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RSA-227 for FY-2021: Submission #1207

New York
09/30/2021
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights New York
725 Broadway
Suite 450
Albany
New York
12207-5001
https://www.drny.org/
518-432-7861
800-993-8982
800-993-8982
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Erica Marie Molina, Esq.
Erica Marie Molina, Esq.
518-432-7861
erica.molina@drny.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
35
1
0
2
5
2
45
B. Training Activities
6
254
**Note** In New York, the state vocational rehabilitation agencies are the New York State Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) and the New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB). The former is a general VR agency serving people with all disabilities except blindness, while the latter is a VR agency only serving those who are blind.

We continue to make information available to the public through our outreach and training activities so that our community has the resources it needs to seek services and self-advocate.

We made multiple presentations at the National Disability Rights Network’s (NDRN) Conference in the spring of 2021. The CAP Director presented “An Active Approach toward Racial Equity & Disability Justice” to the network. This training focused on disability justice work. Attendees came away with actionable steps their respective P&As could take to ensure that the active dismantling of intersectional and systemic inequalities, including racism and ableism, is aligned with our everyday work. This training reached a live audience of 182 Protection and Advocacy (P&A) staff nationwide.

We continue to identify opportunities for outreach to the transition-aged population with a goal of increasing their awareness of self-advocacy strategies and resources such as the P&A and VR agencies. In early 2021, DRNY used CAP and the Protection and Advocacy for Voter Access (PAVA) program funds in collaboration to deliver outreaches to State University of New York (SUNY) colleges. We trained a total of 21 students with disabilities and their disability services office staff. These trainings will continue in FY 2022.

We also presented at the 2020 Youth Conference organized by the WIPA Director at the City of New York’s Hostos Community College. We trained 36 youth and transition-aged people on the VR process, the P&A, and work incentives.
Last, we presented to the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center and reached 15 transition-age youth. We trained these youth on the topics of basic employment rights and the VR process.
C. Agency Outreach
We targeted outreach and provided services to individuals from unserved or underserved communities. Many of these efforts are related to the systemic projects described in this report.

C.A.R.E.

Our Advisory Committee on Advancing Racial Equity (C.A.R.E.) works both internally and externally on matters such as bias, privilege, racism, and intersectionality. This work includes the identification and dismantling of employment-related barriers which uniquely affect people who identify as Black, Indigenous, or non-White. The CAP Director is the Chair of this Committee.

Sub-Minimum Wage Population

We continued our focus of reaching those people with disabilities who work in sheltered workshops at a sub-minimum wage rate, to align with WIOA’s mandates in Section 511. We collaborated with team members from our Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program to create trainings on employment-related topics. This includes training on VR services and Social Security work incentives. We plan to use these resources for in-person training when it is safe to deliver trainings in this manner again.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
1
0
85
41
3
0
We worked to make sure that DRNY is recognized as a resource for people with disabilities seeking services under the Rehabilitation Act. This includes disseminating brochures and other resources to clients, the public, and stakeholders. Information is provided to the public and groups within New York State. We have targeted VR agencies and ILCs to disseminate information; these referral sources have produced many new referrals to DRNY. Referrals also come from stakeholders who participate with us in various state councils, committees, and task forces. In particular, we serve on both the ACCES-VR and NYSCB State Rehabilitation Councils. We regularly update both Councils on our programs. Our active participation has resulted in consistent requests for technical assistance, and also in information and referral (I&R) and case service requests.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
N/A
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
75
58
133
10
38
B. Problem areas
3
22
110
5
0
1
2
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
19
34
47
0
1
3
104
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
55
13
6
2
0
18
0
8
2
0
0
0
N/A
E. Results achieved for individuals
28
7
1
1
43
16
4
4
0
0
N/A
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
6
27
27
67
6
133
B. Gender
68
65
133
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
20
0
2
27
0
76
6
2
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
4
2
0
0
1
13
1
3
3
0
4
6
1
0
1
2
4
2
6
39
0
0
3
7
12
0
1
0
14
1
1
1
1
133
E. Types of Individuals Served
10
0
121
3
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
0
We work across our federally funded CAP and P&A programs to address systemic barriers to access services for our clients.

Vehicle Modification Project:

Many of our clients face barriers getting their vehicles modified. Our clients seeking funding from VR agencies to obtain these modifications face significant barriers with the approval process. Without access to an accessible vehicle these clients are unable to maintain employment. To address these systemic barriers we have leveraged resources outside of DRNY. We hosted brainstorming and problem-solving sessions with three ACCES-VR vendors that regularly conduct vehicle modifications. We have also engaged with 16 other CAPs across the nation to discuss matters related to the vehicle modification process in their respective states. Through this process we have learned more about the causes for these barriers, and ways around them. We plan on continuing this work in FY 2022.

Sub-Minimum Wage Workers:

We conducted outreaches to workers who are paid sub-minimum wages to educate these workers about their rights. We made referrals to appropriate supports where appropriate. We also assisted these employees to access vocational rehabilitation services in order to obtain competitive wages. Finally, we have taken steps to educate policymakers on the harmful effects of the sub-minimum wage upon the success of people with disabilities in the workforce.

Potentially Eligible Initiative (Pre-ETS):

We have continued working with the youth and transition age population, and established a new project focused on Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). ACCES-VR has multiple vendors across the state charged with providing this valuable, but often underutilized, set of services. Through this project, we have developed direct relationships with 18 of the 22 Pre-ETS vendors, as well as the coordinator for these services at ACCES-VR. We have conducted outreach sessions to the vendors, focusing on the services available to their Pre-ETS clients. DRNY looks forward to continuing this work in FY 2022.

CAP Program Priorities:

DRNY has been able to focus its resources on certain substantive areas while providing the public with a clear articulation of issues with which DRNY might be able to assist. Priorities are also used to identify and monitor systemic problems. We use our CAP priorities and objectives (copied below) to inform its advocacy efforts.

I. Priority 1: Advocate for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services available through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, with particular attention to individuals in underserved populations.
a. Objective 1: provide advocacy to individuals who are in the process of applying for VR services while ensuring the legal standards for findings of eligibility and ineligibility are maintained by VR agencies.
b. Objective 2: provide advocacy to individuals who are in the individualized plan for employment (IPE) development stage of the VR process.
c. Objective 3: provide advocacy to individuals who are seeking assistive technology and/or rehabilitative technology in an effort to achieve their IPE goal.
d. Objective 4: provide advocacy to individuals who are seeking transportation, driving lessons, and/or vehicle modification assistance from VR agencies in an effort to achieve their IPE goal.
e. Objective 5: provide advocacy to individuals who are seeking to establish or reestablish communication and/or a productive working relationship with their vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC).
f. Objective 6: provide advocacy to individuals who are seeking support from their VR agency in their goal of self-employment.
g. Objective 7: provide advocacy to individuals eligible for services under Section 511 of the Act, related to the payment of sub-minimum wages to people with disabilities.

II. Priority 2: Advocate for training and education services available through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, with particular attention to individuals in underserved populations.
a. Objective 1: Advocate for the provision of pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) for students with disabilities who require and are eligible or potentially eligible for such services under Section 113 of the Act.
b. Objective 2: Provide advocacy to individuals who are seeking vocational and/or trade school training in an effort to achieve their IPE goal.
c. Objective 3: Provide advocacy to individuals who are seeking college and/or graduate school support from their VR agency in an effort to achieve their IPE goal.

III. Priority 3: Advocate for proper processes, services, and benefits under the Act and other employment-related programs, with particular attention to individuals in underserved populations.
a. Objective 1: provide technical assistance or information to individuals regarding Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
b. Objective 2: provide technical assistance or information to individuals regarding Social Security, including work incentives such as PASS Plans and Ticket to Work.
c. Objective 3: provide technical assistance or information to individuals seeking support in accessing their VR case records in an accessible and timely manner.
d. Objective 4: provide technical assistance or information to individuals applying for due process against VR agencies.

IV. Priority 4: Advocate for services available from federally funded independent living centers (ILCs), with particular attention to individuals in underserved populations.

V. Priority 5: Conduct an outreach and education campaign to ensure that individuals in underserved and unserved communities throughout New York State understand their rights, know about the Protection & Advocacy system, and can access appropriate Client Assistance Program services.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
We did not have any systemic litigation activity involving individual representation. Instead, our efforts to resolve disputes using alternative methods were very successful. We participated in informal meetings, written and in-person negotiations, and administrative review to successfully represent its clients.
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights New York
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Type of position Full-time equivalent % of year position filled Person-years

Professional
Full-time 6.0 92% 4.87
Part-time 0 0 0
Vacant 1.0 8% 0.17

Clerical
Full-time 1.30 87% 1.13
Part-time 0 0 0
Vacant 0.30 13% 0.08

Professional FTE

We paid 15 professional staff from Section 112 funds. Allowing for the timing of hires during the year as well as the percentage of indirect staff, time allocated to Section 112 funds the 15 professional EE’s equate to 6.0 FTE. 92% of the full-time professional positions were filled for 12 months equating to 4.87 person years. The vacancies equate to 8% of the positions unfilled. DRNY did not have any part-time professional employees.

Clerical FTE

We paid 14 clerical staff from Section 112 funds. Allowing for the timing of hires during the year as well as the percentage of indirect staff, time allocated to Section 112 funds the 14 EE’s equate to 0.90 FTE. 87% of the full-time positions were filled for 12 months equating to 1.13 person years. The vacancies equate to 13% of the positions unfilled. DRNY did not have any part-time clerical employees.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
1.
Our client was diagnosed with a serious health condition during her fall 2020 semester at college. This led her to apply for a course deletion, which would clear the semester completely from her transcript. After being approved for the course deletion, ACCES-VR continually denied her any future college funding by asserting that our client had completed the maximum number of semesters their policy allowed. ACCES-VR was unwilling to do as our client’s college had done and disregard the credits from the fall 2020 semester. With our advocacy, ACCES-VR reversed its denial and our client is able to receive funding for the rest of her college semesters.

2.
Another client sought funding from ACCES-VR for his self-employment business, which was to run an ice cream truck. The client has dyslexia. When drafting his business plan, he included some very specific items, including a cash counter and coin counter, to help him manage tasks he found challenging due to his disability. ACCES-VR approved the client’s self-employment business plan, but denied the purchase of these items. We assisted our client by obtaining medical documentation stating that the client’s disability was both math and reading focused, therefore, counting money would be difficult for the client. Yet, even after the client submitted this documentation, ACCES-VR continued to deny the client the equipment he needed to run his business. We interceded and ultimately convinced ACCES-VR to fully fund the requested items. Our client was able to successfully begin operating his own business.

3.
Our client was denied education support from ACCES-VR because ACCES-VR concluded that his education was taking too long to complete, and that he had reached the maximum number of semesters of support allowed, per policy. ACCES-VR failed to take into account that the client took fewer credits at certain points, due to health and family issues. This client has orthopedic impairments, speech impediments, and learning disabilities, and lighter semesters were necessary for him to be successful at school. We negotiated with ACCES-VR, and successfully obtained waivers for two more semesters of financial support for the client. This amounted to over $24,000 in savings for books, fees, room, board, and tuition.

4.
Our client was trying to start his own photography business while living in a homeless shelter in New York City. His laptop was stolen in the shelter, which posed serious hardship for the budding business. ACCES-VR had all necessary and required documentation proving that the laptop was stolen, but they continued to deny our client a new laptop because the client’s business was not generating any income. We represented the client at an administrative review and obtained a favorable decision. ACCES-VR purchased a new computer for our client, and he is now successfully pursuing his photography business.

5.
Our client was denied educational support to attend college to pursue accounting after the VR agency failed to make a timely determination on his request. We represented him at an impartial hearing and supported our client as he strongly presented his case. Our client, who has bipolar disorder and dyslexia, among other disabilities, won the hearing. The hearing officer ordered ACCES-VR to award him the full amount that he sought, over $7,000. She also wrote these words of admonishment in her decision: “The Agency did not inform the Participant of its denial of college sponsorship until after he graduated from college, and then claimed that the Agency does not provide ‘retroactive’ tuition. It would not have been ‘retroactive’ if the Agency had complied with federal and State law and the Agency’s own policies to provide him an appropriate and timely IPE. […] I find that the Agency engaged in a pattern of delay, failure to foster his independence, and failure to provide the Participant with timely information, including deadlines, that left the Participant in vocational limbo as a matter of fact.”
Certification
Approved
Erica Marie Molina, Esq.
CAP Director
2021-12-23
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