ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill to establish the Office of the Chief Disability Officer to advocate for people with disabilities. She appointed Kimberly T. Hill as the state’s first chief disability officer.
Hochul held a bill signing ceremony at Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley in Troy. The signing of Bill A. 3130/S. 1836 officially created the Office of the Chief Disability Officer in New York State.
“My administration is committed to protecting the right of all New Yorkers to live and work in our state free from the fear of discrimination,” said Hochul. “It is critical that we prioritize the protection of our most vulnerable communities, and the new Office of the Chief Disability Officer will ensure we remain accountable to the pursuit of a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable New York.”
The Office of the Chief Disability Officer will serve as the state’s coordinator for the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will also coordinate activities to ensure that state programs do not discriminate against and are accessible to people with disabilities.
The office will also represent the interests of the Disability Community in state government by reviewing proposed legislation and regulations to determine their impact on those with disabilities. The bill will go into effect April 1.
Hill most recently served as the principal analyst for the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on People with Disabilities. She previously served as director of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, which focused on issues pertaining primarily to people with physical and sensory disabilities.
“It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as New York State’s first Chief Disability Officer. I am looking forward to leading a well-resourced Office of the Chief Disability Officer to bring the voices and priorities of all people with disabilities to the forefront and working towards a more integrated, inclusive and accessible New York. Thank you Governor Hochul for this incredible opportunity,” said Hill.
In 1983, the State Office of the Advocate for the Disabled was established with the primary task of advocating for people with disabilities and implement laws that prevent discrimination against the community. However, the function of the office was absorbed into a different body when the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQC) was established in 2011. The CQC was then disbanded when the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (The Justice Center) was created.
“The appointment of a Chief Disability Officer will not only provide a driving force to uphold the rights of all New Yorkers with a disability, but this new position will also help ensure that people can live as independently as possible within the community of their choice fully supported to achieve their individual goals, and help break down silos and ensure people can access the supports they need,” said the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Acting Commissioner Kerri Neifeld.