2017 City Council Screening Questionnaire
Candidate Name: Alicka Ampry-Samuel
Council District 41
If there is a Campaign office(s), is it wheelchair accessible? Yes
Campaign Address: 47 Belmont Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11212
Political: Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, District Leader Anthony Jones, Working Families Party, New Kings Democratic Club, Brooklyn Chapter of the New York Progressive Alliance Network, #VOTEPROCHOICE
Community: Make the Road, Planned Parenthood
Labor: 32BJ, CWA, CSA
Action Shows Commitment!
What have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights? This can include work towards accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process?
Will you only attend / sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities (PWDs including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters as well as ensuring that locations are physically accessible? Yes. Elected officials answer to the public – the entire public. And that includes the disability community. I will continue to be a champion of accessibility for people with disabilities and will be a strong voice in partnership with advocacy groups and organizations like 504 Dems.
Local Law 28 requires City department and agency “advertising and other materials pertaining to public events to include information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities” but it does not include elected officials or Community Boards. Do you believe the law should be amended to include electeds and Community Boards? In the absence of an amendment to Local Law 28, would you voluntarily comply? Yes, on both counts. Elected officials and community boards are not above the law. We have a responsibility to ensure that the rights of all people who want to participate in public functions are vindicated.
II. General Questions:
What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities?
What would be your strategy to work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the City Council? I will meet regularly with the disability community to discuss priorities, and focus attention on those priorities. We need to have reports on the progress of legislation that matters to the disability community – with ratings based on each member’s commitment to the crucial issues.
How will you use your office to affirm or strengthen, rather than weaken, civil rights protections for persons with disabilities? I think we need to start by examining the basic civil rights that we expect for all people: the right to vote, the right to travel, the right to an education, etc. Then, we must consider which barriers still prevent members of the disability community from exercising these rights. For example, if a polling site does not have easy access to every person eligible to vote, we need a different polling site. The same principle applies to schools, mass transit, and other areas.
Will all events planned by your office be accessible with all material including the appropriate accessibility symbols (such as the wheelchair, ASL CART, etc)? Yes, absolutely. I will require that every person in our community has an opportunity for full participation. But I also want to expand on that idea. Every event needs to have outreach to the disability community to encourage your involvement and to elevate your voices.
What is your position on the development of supported apartments/homes for people with disabled in your borough? We need more, and we need it fast. The homelessness crisis poses unique dangers for many members of the disability community. I welcome the building of safe, affordable units for the disability community, connected to services that support the highest quality of life.
Visitability sets guidelines to ensure newly constructed multi-family dwellings have basic accessible/adaptable features to permit people with disabilities can visit, and for residents to "age in place," without having to move out when age and/or disability set in. Do you support incorporating the concept of “visitability” in the Building Code? Yes. Many people unfortunately operate under the assumption that their abilities will never change. But disabilities are inevitable. We have to protect every person’s right to remain within their home, in their community, regardless of disability.
What will you do to expand affordable wheelchair accessible transportation in NYC, express buses, and shuttles, more accessible subway stations, etc.? New York City have been a leader on many issues – but not on the right of disabled persons to move freely. Too many subway stations and buses are not appropriately designed to allow the entire community to use them. I want to fix that. It starts with resources – we have to provide funding that will allow public transit to truly serve the entire public.
Access-A-Ride (AAR) users experience unnecessarily long trips, causing users to be late for work and appointments. Users have been stranded and penalized as a "no-show" when the vehicle never arrived. Riders who complain report they have been subject to retaliation. What would you do to improve the quality of service? Access-A-Ride have every right to expect reliable, courteous service. Considering the awful situation with our many inaccessible subway stations, Access-A-Ride fulfills a vital function. We need to invest in many additional vehicles, and insist that operators provide a high quality of service to all of their customers.
VI. Community Boards:
Do you support requiring all Community Board meetings and functions to be accessible, including requiring sign language interpreters and large print format material? Yes. It’s a simple proposition. The community boards are supposed to represent the entire community. Excluding people with disabilities undermines that purpose.
b How many people with disabilities have/will you appoint to your local Community Board? I hope to appoint many members of the disability community to local community boards. I place a high premium on diversity – in gender, race, and – relevant here – disability status. We need every voice in the conversation.
VII. Discretionary Funds:
Will you use your discretionary funds to support organizations serving PWDS or service organizations seeking to make their programs accessible to PWDS? Yes. I will insist that services be made available to the entire community and – furthermore – that outreach efforts draw in the entire community.
a. What steps do you think NYC should take to encourage business owners to make their establishments more accessible? We need to establish a mandate, enforced by law: if a business isn’t open to any person, it can’t be open to the public. I have seen too many store owners assume that a step in front of the door doesn’t matter. Or some other impediment doesn’t matter. I disagree.
How would you ensure that emergency evacuation for PWDS provisions are put in place to improve survival rates of PWDs in the event of fire, attack, blackout, or other emergency situation? I want to collaborate with the New York City Fire Department to define a set of best practices. When disaster strikes, we should never leave anyone behind.
X. Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)
Mayor Bloomberg elevated the Director of the (MOPD) to a Commissioner without any increase in budget. How would you ensure that city departments/agencies coordinate through MOPD? We need to provide any adequate budget, to start. Then we need to insist on enforcement of laws already on the books. But our work doesn’t end there. I want to know the voices of the disability community in the ears of the commissioner, and to focus on continued improvements that truly open our city to all its people.
How do you believe the City Council should enforce and do oversight regarding the work of the office and be certain of the implementation and its efforts? We need to have regular hearings with the Commissioner before the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services to ask the hard questions. I want representatives of the disability community at those meetings, ready with their own questions.