Complete Details for Bill A05141 – VR Communication Support for Autistic Consumers

Henny with Senator Charles Schumer

Henny with Senator Charles Schumer

Details about this bill, including history and original proposal by Rebecca and Henny

New York BILL NO A05141

TITLE OF BILL: “An act to amend the education law, in relation to vocational rehabilitation services for enhancing communication support”

Introduced to the New York State Assembly by Angelo Santabarbara.

Short Description:

This bill directs the commissioner of education (John B. King Jr) to amend the education law in relation to vocational rehabilitation services to add a new section (1004-c) for communication support as a vocational rehabilitation service. Deputy Commissioner of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services (Kevin Smith) to implement the service statewide effective January 1, 2016.

Our Calculations (based on The State Fiscal Year annual reports):

  • 29, 200 Acces-VR annual consumers state-wide
  • 4% ASD = 1,168 individuals
  • 2.8% employed = 32 individuals statewide
  • 88.5% with significant disabilities


In June 2013, Rebecca Botta-Zalucki and Henny Kupferstein met with Assemblyman Santabarbara and submitted a proposal (click here to read) for reforming Acces-VR’s failure to adequately support autistic consumers. The proposal outlines an intervention for system change where a radical reduction in the budget would also increase the employment rates significantly.  This change would thereby radically alter the efficacy of the program moving forward, shining a light on the abysmal statistics published by the agency to date. By adding communication support as a service, the agency will support consumers appropriately and dissolve the demoralizing, costly, and ineffective job coaching services that still leave autistic adults without sustainable employment.

The federal government has given the jurisdiction to the state to interpret their own policies and consolidate funding. In July, 2014, we met with Debora Brown-Johnson, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of ACCES-VR and Michelle Barlow from ACCES-VR Quality Assurance and Monitoring Unit (QAMU) at the New York State Education Department. The proposal was then presented at the council’s open session, putting the matter on the record with State Ed. New York’s State Ed Deputy Commissioner reviewed the proposal in July 2014 but determined that no changes would be made to the policies at that time.

Rebecca and Henny wish to thank the following agencies and professionals for signing the proposal and supporting this historic piece of legislation:


(1) Janine Kruiswijk

Executive Director

Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region

101 State Street

Schenectady, New York 12305

(518) 355-2191


(2)   Patricia Schissel, LMSW    

Executive Director, AHA

888.918.9198, 646.505.6011


(3) Stephen Motto, MSEd

Director of Operations

College & University Support Programs (CUSP)

PO Box 66367

Albany, NY 12206

(518) 203-3913


(4) Lynda Geller, Ph.D.


Spectrum Services

303 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1003

New York, NY 10018


(5) Pamela Chris Howard, CCC-SLP

NYS LIC011978-1

ASHA member 12026062

member of the Autism Society of America

member of the Capital Area Speech and Hearing Association



(6) Mitch Nagler MA, LMHC

Director, Bridges to Adelphi Program

Assistant Director, Student Counseling Center

Adelphi University

University Center Room 302

One South Avenue

P.O. Box 701

Garden City, NY  11530-0701

(516) 877-3665


(7) LDA of Western New York

Mike Helman, Executive Director



(8) Sheila Steinhof, MS,

-Vice President Programs, Learning Disabilities Association of NYC

-Governor appointed council member as Student Advocate of the Advisory Council for Licensed Private Career Schools

-Chair Subcommittee “Student Access” to above council


(9) Stephen Shore, Ed.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education

Adelphi University

115B Alumni Hall

One South Avenue

P.O. Box 701

Garden City, NY  11530-0701

(857) 225-0304


(10) Christine Gerber, M.S, CCC-SLP

Clinical Supervisor/Instructor

SUNY Fredonia

280 Central Avenue

Fredonia NY 14063


(11) Valerie L. Gaus, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist, Private Practice

64 East Gate Drive

Huntington, NY 11743

(631) 692-9750


(12) Karen L Colaiacovo

Disability Resource Coordinator

Chautauqua Works

407 Central Avenue

Dunkirk, NY 14048


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