Queens lawmaker introduces new bill to improve interactions between first responders and people with disabilities

Photo courtesy of Rep. Meng’s office

Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng on Tuesday, March 29, introduced new legislation that would improve interactions between first responders and people with disabilities. 

The Disability ID Act of 2022 would establish a new grant program for states to facilitate the placement of a discrete and voluntary disability identifier symbol on driver’s licenses and other forms of state-issued identification, in order to improve interactions between first responders and people with disabilities.  

The legislation would also provide funding for training first responders to recognize the disability identifiers and interact appropriately with such individuals.  

According to Meng, people with disabilities should not be subjected to unfair and sometimes violent treatment because of circumstances out of their control. 

“Situations where first responders are needed often cause severe anxiety and fear, but by providing identifier symbols on different forms of ID, first responders will be better suited to use the training this bill also provides to handle complex situations with people who have disabilities. I look forward to my bill moving through the House,” Meng said.      

 Some states, like Alaska and Colorado, have already pioneered state laws that provide an option for a person with a disability to request a discreet disability identifier symbol on their form of identification. Meng’s bill would help provide these same choices to people with disabilities and provide training for first responders across the country.     

Jess Stainbrook, executive director of the Invisible Disabilities Association, is partnering with Meng to help states provide a designated disability ID symbol on government IDs and driver’s licenses. 

“We are seeing this important initiative protect and support people living with invisible disabilities and the interactions with law enforcement, first responders, educators and businesses all over the globe. The new ID symbol helps specify that an invisible disability is present and may need some type of accommodations,” Stainbrook said. 

Rachel Morgan, founder and president of the Adam Morgan Foundation, said Meng’s bill will “facilitate a proactive program for first responders that will allow them to build trusting relationships with the disabled community in order to be more effective in their future interactions.”