As of, December of 2020 61 million adults in the United States have some type of disability according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That translates to 1 in 4 Americans. In New York that figure is 1 in 5, according to a Department of Health Survey. Three million New Yorkers reported having a type of disability due to health conditions. While we don’t know the number of immigrants with disabilities and while certain disabilities are more noticeable than others, it does not take away that all types of conditions can be detrimental to individuals’ lifestyle and to the lives of those around them.
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The Americans with Disabilities Act
In order to help Americans suffering from disabilities, in 1990 George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)— which, similar to the Civil Rights Act, protected individuals with disabilities from harassment and/or discrimination. “It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.” (ADATA).
What is a Disability?
The CDC classifies a disability as any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for a person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions). Disabilities include conditions that affect mobility, cognitive reasoning, independent living, hearing, vision, and/or self-care.
There is no definitive list of what is considered to be a disability. However, the regulation does identify conditions that would be considered a disability:
- Intellectual disabilities.
- Partial or completely missing limbs.
- Mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair.
- Cerebral palsy.
- HIV infection.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Muscular dystrophy.
- Major depressive disorder.
- Bipolar disorder.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Note: A doctor would have to diagnose a list of medical conditions in order to be determined as having a disability(ies).
Resources in New York State for Immigrants with Disabilities:
The links below provide information in a variety of settings. For Information, please visit:
Note: After clicking on the link, use the filter terms on the left to find resources specific to the topics, or enter keywords in the box to find resources on a specific term.
Also read: Organizations Serving Immigrants in New York
Resources in New York City for Individuals with Disabilities:
NYC Well: NYC Well provides assistance with mental health concerns online, by phone at 1-888-692-9355, or by texting “Well” to 65173.
NYC 311: 311 provides assistance to residents of NYC on a variety of topics (transportation, housing, benefits, food, & more). Use the website for assistance or call 311 from your phone.
Legal Aid Society of NYC: Legal advice and representation on a variety of issues, including civil practice, criminal defense, juvenile rights, benefits, homeless rights, immigration law, and taxes.
Advocates for Children: AFC serves children and youth (ages 0-26) in New York City who are struggling in school or experiencing discrimination in school or early learning programs.
Mobilization for Justice: Offers free legal assistance in NYC to low-income New Yorkers in the areas of housing; foreclosure; civil rights; bankruptcy, tax, employment, government benefits, immigration, & more.
MTA Guide to Accessible Transit: This site provides information about accessible public transit in New York City, including the Long Island Railroad, Metro North and New York City airports.
Public Park Accessibility in NYC: Find accessible facilities and adaptive events and programs in New York City Parks on this website.
NYC Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) Program: The DRIE program is an exemption against future rent increases for eligible disabled persons living in New York City rent-controlled, rent stabilized, or other apartments.
NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD): Find information on employment, transportation, housing, and other resources for people with disabilities in New York City.
NYC Be Ready Emergency Management Preparation Resources: NYC Emergency Management provides information for people with disabilities in preparation for an emergency or disaster, including this workbook to help create emergency plans.
NYC Department of Education – Assistive Technology: The New York City Department of Education provides support and guidance regarding assistive technology for public school staff, teachers and administrators.
The services listed above are provided by the City and the state. Below, we have listed a few organizations that also provide help for New Yorkers with disabilities.
Also read: Legal Help for Immigrants in New York State
List of Organizations Helping Immigrants with Disabilities:
Note: By serving communities in New York, these organizations should abide by New York laws prohibiting discrimination against immigrants with disabilities.
Disabled in Action (DIA): A civil rights organization committed to ending discrimination against people with disabilities — all disabilities. They fight to eliminate the barriers that prevent us from enjoying full equality in American society. DIA consists primarily of and is directed by people with disabilities.
Phone & Fax: 718-261-3737| Disabled in Action Website
Guide to Independent Living: An illustrated guide to independent living for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Created by the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and AHRC. | More Information on Independent Living Guide
Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY: The Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York’s (CIDNY) goal is to ensure full integration, independence and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic, cultural, and civic life of the community.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | Manhattan CIDNY Phone: 212-674-2300
Queens CIDNY Phone: 646-442-1520 | CIDNY Website
Harlem Independent Living Center: Assists communities of people with disabilities in achieving optimal independence through culturally and linguistically appropriate services by advocating, educating, empowering and being a community change catalyst.
289 Saint Nicholas Avenue. Suite 21 Lower Level, New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-222-7122 | Email: email@example.com | Harlem Independent Living Center Website
Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled (BCID): Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, Inc. (BCID) is a nonprofit, grass roots organization operated by a majority of people with disabilities for people with disabilities since 1956. Phone: 718-998-3000 | BCID Website
Bronx Independent Living Services (BILS): Bronx Independent Living Services (BILS) is a nonprofit, community based organization dedicated to empower all people with disabilities to understand and exercise their civil and human rights in order to live fully integrated lives in mainstream society. Phone: 718-515-2800 | BILS Website
Staten Island Center for Independent Living: The Staten Island Center for Independent Living is the only comprehensive multi-service provider in the borough that is primarily staffed and governed by individuals who have personal experience with disability.| Staten Island Center for Independent Living Website
Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS): The Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, Inc. (SANYS) is a nonprofit, grassroots organization run by and for people with developmental disabilities. Phone: 646-896-1938 | SANYS Website
Sinergia: Sinergia is a multi-service, nonprofit organization founded in 1977. The agency’s focus is to serve individuals and families who have developmental and intellectual disabilities throughout New York City as well as underserved populations in the community of Harlem.
2082 Lexington Avenue 4th Floor | New York, NY 10035 Phone: 212-643-2840 | Sinergia Website
National Federation of the Blind (NFB)- NYC Chapter: The National Federation of the Blind of New York knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. The NFB believes in the full capacity of blind people and has the power, influence, diversity, and determination to help transform our dreams into reality.
Phone: 718-567-7821 | NFB Website
American Council of the Blind (ACB) New York Chapter: ACBNY is the state affiliate of The American Council Of The Blind. Its purpose is to support and promote the educational, vocational and social advancement of people who are blind and low vision.
Phone: 800-522-3303 | ACB Website
New York City Black Deaf Advocates: New York City Black Deaf Advocates, NYCBDA, Chapter 4, was founded in 1983, our mission is to better inform ourselves and the Deaf Community about the rights and responsibilities of black deaf individuals. We also identify, examine and disseminate information related to the impact of social, economic, educational, political, religions and health issues through the medium of forums, panels, lectures and workshops as well as increased leadership development and job opportunities for Black Deaf persons and to further their potentials. | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | NYC Black Deaf Advocate Website
National Alliance on Mental Illness NYC Metro: The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC Metro) is a grassroots organization that provides support, education, and advocacy for families and individuals of all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds who live with mental illness.
Phone: 212-684-3264| E-mail: email@example.com | National Alliance on Mental Illness NYC Metro Website