Community Advocacy

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NJCDD Self Advocates often reach out and work with government representatives on issues that concern the developmental disabilities community.

Some of the successful community advocacy projects that self advocates have worked on include:

Snow Removal
Transportation
The R-word

Snow Removal

In 1999, advocates from the NJCDD’s were instrumental in getting a law passed which requires that municipalities and owners or controllers of parking areas and walkways must remove snow, ice, debris, or other obstacles from accessible parking spaces, curb cuts, and other improvements designed to provide accessibility.

Ice or snow must be removed within 48 hours after snow has stopped falling. A violator of this provision would be subject to a penalty of not less that $200 or more than $500.

This law is NOT limited to WINTERTIME. All year round, debris, shopping carts, and other obstacles in handicapped parking spaces or blocking curb cuts, which make it difficult and dangerous for people with disabilities to get out of their vehicles of to their desired destination, must be removed.

39:4-207.9 Parking spaces for handicapped; requirements for snow removal; penalty.

1. a. A person who owns or controls a parking area which is open to the public or to which the public is invited and which contains special parking spaces for the use of persons who have been issued a placard or wheelchair symbol license plates pursuant to P.L.1949, c.280 (C.39:4-204 et seq.) shall be responsible for assuring that access to these special parking spaces and to curb cuts or other improvements designed to provide accessibility for handicapped persons is not obstructed.

b. If snow or ice is obstructing the special parking space, curb cut or other improvement designed to provide accessibility for the handicapped, it shall be removed within 24 hours after the weather condition causing the snow or ice ceases.

c. A person who violates this act shall be liable for a penalty of not less than $500 or more than $1,000 for each space that is obstructed.

L.1999, c.182, s.1; amended 2007, c.287.

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Transportation

People with disabilities understand that access to public transportation is essential for self-determination and fully community inclusion. Being able to ride public transportation increases employment and educational opportunities, promotes community involvement and enhances self-sufficiency. And the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 (ADA) requires that any new or existing transportation services must be accessible to people with disabilities and that people with disabilities must not be excluded or discriminated against in the use of public transportation.

In June of 2011, NJCDD’s advocates were invited to participate in Travel training classes, provided by the NJ Travel Independence Program (NJ TIP). The advocates we given a full over-view of the kinds of accessibility features they should expect when riding on public transportation, how to find information about transit routes, travel safety, and more. They also learned how to make sure their accessibility needs have been met on public transportation systems in their community, and how to work toward improving those systems if they are inadequate.

This program is still offered by NJ TIP. If you would like to find out more, please visit www.njtip.org.

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The R-Word

In August of 2010, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law which replaces the words “Mentally Retarded” with “Intellectual and Developmental Disability” in all state laws, regulations, resolutions, and other written documents.

This legislation was passed in large part due to the strong local and regional efforts of the  state-wide self advocates from the NJCDD’s.

R-word Removal legislation

The following is an introduction to legislation that removes language that is demeaning and disrespectful towards persons with intellectual and other disabilities from all NJ State documents, statutes, regulations, and laws:

“Language used in reference to individuals with intellectual and other disabilities shapes and reflects the attitudes of society toward persons with disabilities. Certain terms are demeaning and disrespectful, and create a barrier to the inclusion of people with intellectual and other disabilities as valued members of our community.

It is, therefore, in the public interest to ensure that the statutes and regulations of the State do not contain language that is outdated and disrespectful to persons with disabilities. In this regard, this

Bill deletes all references in the statutes to the terms “mental retardation,” “mentally retarded,” “idiot,” and “feeble-minded” and replaces them with the term “intellectual disability,” using “personfirst” language. “Person-first” language is language that refers to an individual as a “person with a disability,” rather than as a “disabled person.” The bill also updates and replaces references in Title 30 of the Revised Statutes to “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” with the broader terms “developmentally disabled” and “developmental disability,” to reflect the fact that the Division of Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Human Services serves persons with developmental disabilities, not just persons with intellectual disabilities.

It is the intent of the sponsor that upon enactment of this bill, all future legislation reflect this more respectful terminology. Further, it is the intent of the sponsor that all affected State agencies continue to use documents already in print although they may contain terminology in use prior to the enactment of this bill, and that all State regulations and documents, when they are readopted or revised, similarly incorporate the more respectful terminology used in this bill.

The bill also repeals the following statutes, which are no longer operative:

P.L.1955, c.201 (C.30:4-177.20 et seq.), which established the E.R. Johnstone Training and Research Center, which was closed in 1992; and R.S.30:11-1 through 30:11-4, P.L.1947, c.340 (C.30:11-6 through 30:11-9) and P.L.1964, c.148 (C.30:11-1.1 et seq), which authorized the Commissioner of Institutions and Agencies to regulate hospitals and other health care facilities. This authority was transferred to the Department of Health and Senior Services in 1971. Changes references to “mental retardation” to “intellectual disability” or “developmental disability” and uses person-first language for persons with disabilities.”

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