Queens lawmaker introduces legislation to improve accessibility, expand employment opportunities for disability community across city agencies

Queens disability accessibility
Council member Linda Lee. (Courtesy of Lee’s office)

Councilwoman Linda Lee on Wednesday, Sept. 14, introduced two bills to improve accessibility across city agencies and expand employment opportunities for New York City’s disabled community. 

“As a social worker, and now as chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addictions, I’ve seen how the pandemic disproportionately affected the nearly 1 million people in New York with disabilities,” Lee said. “This legislation is about making good on the promise of equal access for all New Yorkers while fulfilling the vision of strengthening our city’s workforce on our road to recovery.”

Lee’s first bill, Int.681, will require the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and the Department for Small Business Services to create a workforce development program for people with disabilities. 

This bill will not only create an accessible online portal to connect individuals with employers, but will also include guidance on resume and cover letter writing, interviews and communicating with employers about the terms and conditions of employment to provide support during and after the job-seeking process.

The second bill, Int.682, will require the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities to collect a five-year plan from every New York City agency detailing their steps to improve the accessibility of programming and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. 

This will include budgetary allocations, alterations or structural changes to facilities, and any other steps agencies plan to take in order to improve compliance with federal, state and local disability laws. 

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) is the liaison between the New York City government and the disability community. In partnership with all city offices and agencies, MOPD consistently ensures that the rights and concerns of the disability community are included in all city initiatives and that city programs and policies address the needs of people with disabilities.

When compared to other New Yorkers, New Yorkers with disabilities have higher rates of unemployment and underemploymentNearly 1 million New Yorkers are living with a disability, yet in 2021 nearly 17% of those of working age with a disability were unemployed — up from 7.4% in 2019. This unemployment rate persisted for much of the past two years, even as the unemployment rate for New Yorkers without a disability has fallen sharply since the summer of 2020. 

Both of Lee’s bills were previously highlighted in Adams’ State of the City address. 

Lee thanked Council Speaker Adrienne Adams for her leadership on the issue, saying, “she has shown her commitment to making our economic recovery and landscape more inclusive.” 

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