News & Events

Tech For Athletes with Disabilities on Display at Helen Hayes Hospital

Helen Hayes Hospital welcomed vendors from across the tri-state area to its annual Adapted Sports, Recreation and Living Expo on Saturday, April 8th to showcase innovative technologies and lifestyle tips for people with disabilities.  Read the complete article at LoHud.com..

Members of the BRiDGES staff were on site to provided information, business cards flyers, literature and BRiDGES gift bags to many at the event.

Read the complete article at LoHud.com..

Thank You To All Our Guests & Sponsors!

Our BRiDGES 30 event was a rousing success!  The party took place on Thursday, March 9th at the Clubhouse at Patriot Hills.  As the evening began, guest mingled, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and perused the raffle prizes that were available.  Entertainment for the evening was provided by the very talented pianist, Milton Koja.

Dr. David Jacobsen, Executive Director of BRiDGES had the honor of acting as master of ceremonies for the evening.  After speeches given by a number for Rockland County officials, Dr. Jacobsen turned the floor over to several individuals who shared their personal stories with the crowd.  These personal stories helped to highlight the issues that people with disabilities must face and how BRiDGES has helped them overcome those issues.  These stories sparked lively and informative conversation that flowed through out the evening as guests enjoyed the delicious menu provided by Patriot Hills.

The evening wound down with a live auction hosted by BRiDGES board member, Howard Hellman and the drawing of the winners for the raffle prizes.  All proceeds from these activies will be used to support the mission of BRiDGES.

We want to thank all of our guests for the evening and everyone that sponsored and donated to the event.  We want to send a very special thank you to all the individuals who bravely shared their stories!

Advocacy Release – Affordable Health Care Act

View the PDF version of this advocacy release

March 2017

Issue:         Affordable Health Care Act

Purpose:    Advocacy for People with Disabilities

Central to the mission of BRiDGES are two key elements: Advocacy and Leadership.

This release focuses on the decisions being made now regarding health care for those Americans who are most susceptible to even the slightest changes to access, coverage, and continuing care.  Rising costs of insurance coverage, prescription medication, and treatment warrant changes; however, those changes must ensure that existing systems, proven effective for helping people with disabilities maintain autonomy, are strengthened through the process.

The primary purpose of advocacy is to ensure that each voice is heard, and that every American freely exercises life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  As an Independent Living Center, BRiDGES is dedicated to advocacy that expresses the voice of people living with disabilities.  With the prospective bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it is essential that this voice is heard.  More than 20% of Americans are currently living with a disability – and all Americans are affected by changes in vision, hearing, physical, emotional, and overall functioning as time goes by.

BRiDGES recognizes three key issues regarding the Affordable Health Care Act:

  • Access
  • Coverage
  • Continuing Care

Regarding each of these issues, immediate action is required to ensure that the voices of millions of people with disability are heard, considered, and valued in the midst of this debate.  It is not enough to repeal the ACA because of perceived broken promises if replaced with lesser coverage and care.

Action:     

Regarding Access, it is important that health care coverage be affordable in ways that allow it to be used.  Plans under the ACA that make insurance affordable only through excessively high deductibles and copays provide no value.  BRiDGES supports changes in coverage that improve access to care.

Regarding Coverage, it is essential that mental health coverage parity other aspects of health care.  In addition, supportive services – especially housing, must be recognized in tandem with health care.  Stable housing is proven to mitigate even severe mental health concerns.  Also, improvements to health care must include improved prescription medication coverage.  BRiDGES supports maintaining mental health parity.

Regarding Continuing Care, it is necessary to ensure that coverage is sufficient to meet the needs.  Chronic disabling conditions must have provisions that protect care for pre-existing conditions, and person-centered health care.  BRiDGES supports protecting the Community First Choice Option that gives every American the autonomy and freedom to both live independently and receive the services needed.

Contact your elected officials in Washington to encourage common-sense legislation that improves access, coverage, and continuing care for people with disabilities, for every American.

House of Representatives – house.gov
United States Senate – senate.gov

Families of Developmentally Disabled Seek More Funding for Caregivers

Read the complete article here…

By Karen Dewitt – WXXI News – February 28, 2017

Just one month before the state budget is due, numerous interest groups are converging on the State Capitol, asking that they be included in the budget.

Among the more impassioned efforts is one from developmentally disabled people and their caregivers. They are seeking $45 million in state subsidies to pay workers more money to comply with the rising minimum wage in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature last year phased in an increase that will eventually lead to a $15 hourly wage in New York City and a $12.50 wage upstate.

Former Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who has a son with severe development disabilities, said the money is “loose change” in a $160 billion state budget. He said worker shortages with vacancy rates as high as 20 percent at some facilities have led to employees working overtime while not earning enough to live decently themselves.

“They can’t pay their bills, they qualify for food stamps, there’s something wrong,” Weisenberg said. “The state has an obligation and a responsibility to pay these people a living wage.”

Read the complete article here…

NYAIL Action Alert

Tell Your Legislators To Support Community Living By Including a Home Modification, or Visitability Tax Credit In This Year’s Budget!

People want to live in homes, not nursing homes! Very often, basic home modifications make the difference between the ability to live one’s life in the community and being homebound, or worse, sent into an institution. Yet, Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget once again fails to include a tax credit to assist with the costs of modifying one’s home.

The Visitability Tax Credit bill, A.9303/S.6943 of 2016 was passed by both houses, but vetoed for the second year in a row by Governor Cuomo. This bill would provide homeowners with a tax credit of up to $2,750 to renovate their home to make it more universally visitable, or to go toward the cost of developing a universally visitable home. Governor Cuomo had stated in his veto message he supported the proposal, but that it needed to be dealt with in the Budget. Yet, he did not include this tax credit in his budget proposal. We must urge the Legislature to include the Visitability Tax Credit in their budget proposals. Assemblymember Lavine circulated a budget sign-on letter in the Assembly, but Senate and Assembly leadership need to know this is important to the disability community.

Action: Make two calls today!
1. Call your assembly member today and request they urge Speaker Heastie to include a Visitability tax credit, such as in A.9303/S.6943 of 2016. You can reach your assembly member by calling the Assembly switchboard at #518-455-4100 and ask to be connected to your assembly member.
Say: “Hello, as a constituent and a person with a disability, I am calling to urge [Assembly member’s name] to communicate their support for a home modification tax credit to Speaker Heastie to be included in the Assembly’s budget proposal. This tax credit would help people with disabilities and older New Yorkers with the costs of making their homes more accessible and would allow people to age in place ”

2. Call your State Senator and urge them to communicate their support for a Visitability tax credit, as in A.9303/S.6943 of 2016 to Senator Flanagan. You can reach your senator by calling the Senate switchboard at #518-455-2800 and ask to be connected to your senator.
Say: “As a constituent and a person with a disability, I am calling to urge [your senator’s name] to support including a home modification tax credit in the budget, as in A.9303/S.6943 of 2016, which was passed by the legislature but vetoed. Please tell [your senator’s name] to communicate their support for including this tax credit in the Senate’s budget to Senator Flanagan.] ”

If you aren’t sure who your state senator or assembly member is, you can look that up here: http://ilny.org/advocacy/vv-action-alerts

Background: The disability community has long advocated for New York to increase the accessible housing stock across the State by incentivizing the use of “visitability” design standards. This includes basic accessible features, including:
• One no-step entrance
• An accessible path to the door
o hallways and doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair
• An accessible bathroom on the first floor

The NYS legislature passed similar legislation in 2015 and 2016. Governor Cuomo vetoed this legislation twice, indicating his support for the concept, but stating it had to be done in the context of the Budget. However, Governor Cuomo didn’t include this in his proposed Executive Budget. This means we need the Assembly and Senate to include the tax credit in their one house budget proposals.

Last year, it was determined that there was a need to better understand the cost estimates for such a program. For this reason, the sponsors included a $1 million cap per year in aggregate to A.9303/S.6943. As the program would now be considered a pilot project, the State has five years to determine whether this cap is sufficient to meet the needs of the population.

Due to the high cost of home modifications, many people cannot afford to make changes to their homes to make them more accessible, or to move to a more accessible home. Most prefer to remain at home rather than move to nursing facilities or different, more accessible housing as their needs change. However, many are forced out because their homes are no longer safe or practical for them to live in. This tax credit will help to ensure that people with disabilities and older New Yorkers are able to afford these modifications and remain in their homes.

JCC Rockland Presents 3rd Annual “ReelAbilities” Film Festival

Mar 2-8, 2017

ReelAbilities Film Festival brings together the community to promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. ReelAbilities Film Festival showcases films, conversations and artistic programs to explore, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

  • All Films will be shown at JCC Rockland
  • All screenings are wheelchair accessible
  • All screenings are $10 in advance ($2 more at the door)
Part of ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival
For full festival schedule and information, visit: NY.REELABILITIES.ORG