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Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation Expanding Access to Translation Services on City Websites, also Increases Agency Accessibility for People with Disabilities

March 14, 2016

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Signs package of legislation requiring reporting to help the City expand the use of solar panels on City buildings

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed seven bills into law – Intro. 673-A, in relation to translation of City websites; Intro. 683-A, in relation to a protocol relating to the accessibility of City government websites for persons with disabilities; Intro. 881-A, in relation to the designation of disability service facilitators at City agencies; Intro. 883-A, in relation to requiring advertising and other materials pertaining to public events to include information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities; Intro. 478-A, in relation to installing photovoltaic systems on City buildings; Intro. 1029, in relation to authorizing an increase in the amount to be expended annually in the Fulton Street Business Improvement District, an extension and modification of the boundaries of the Fulton Street BID, and a change in the method of assessment upon which the district charge in the Fulton Street BID is based; and Intro. 1047, in relation to authorizing an increase in the amount to be expended annually in the Fulton Mall Special Assessment District.

"New York City is an amalgamation of cultures, heritages and languages," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "That is why we strive to increase inclusivity, especially when it comes to New Yorkers with disabilities. Whether it's creating a more accessible City website, or ensuring that events hosted by City agencies have information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities, Intros. 673-A, 683-A, 881-A and 883-A strengthen our efforts to be more inclusive."

"I would like to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership, and Council Members Jumaane Williams and Dan Garodnick for sponsoring the first two bills respectively. I would also like to thank Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Ritchie Torres for co-sponsoring Intros. 881-A and 883-A," said Mayor de Blasio.

The first bill, Intro. 673-A, requires that all City websites, wherever practicable, include a translation feature in languages other than English. Non-English speakers will now see an indication for translation services of City websites in their native scripts.

The second bill, Intro. 683-A, requires the adoption of a protocol for website accessibility for people with disabilities to be based either on federal regulations, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or any successor standards. If the City wants to differ from such standards, it must consult with experts in website design and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities as well as hold a public hearing. Such differences must be documented in the protocol and posted online.

The third bill, Intro. 881-A, requires that every City agency designate a disability service facilitator. Each agency will have a staff member who will serve as the primary contact within that agency for persons with disabilities requesting auxiliary services and ultimately help coordinate those services. This person also will develop agency policies and procedures to ensure full programmatic and communication accessibility for persons with disabilities and conduct periodic training for agency staff on issues concerning disability access. The facilitator will respond to inquiries from members of the public concerning accessibility and must be available to confer with and receive periodic training from the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.

The fourth bill, Intro. 883-A, requires that advertising and other materials pertaining to public events hosted by City agencies include information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities. This bill also requires information regarding who to contact for information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities at events hosted by City agencies. The Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities will establish guidelines for how to best include this information in posters and advertisements produced by City agencies.

"The City Council is committed to making New York a more inclusive City for all people to work and live," said Council Speaker Mark-Viverito. "This package of legislation will increase language access across City websites and improve access to City services for all New Yorkers. I thank my Council colleagues and Mayor de Blasio for their on-going support of these critical issues."

"Technology can play a transformative role in our everyday lives – but it's only as good as it is accessible," said Department of Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Anne Roest. "We're proud to have worked with the Mayor's Office, City Council and agency partners on this important legislation to ensure that, the City's digital face to the world, remains a resource for all New Yorkers."
"We have worked with numerous agencies to hire accessibility coordinator positions and work closely with these individual to ensure access to their programs and services. I would like to thank Council Members Rosenthal and Garodnick for introducing these bills and facilitating the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities' efforts in including Americans with Disability Act coordinators in City agencies, holding accessible public meetings and providing accessible information on agency websites," said Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.

"The de Blasio administration is committed to speaking the language of all New Yorkers. Intro. 673-A will create website protocols that make it easier for New Yorkers to search City agency websites in their language of choice. It is a step forward in eliminating language barriers for limited English proficient New Yorkers when they access City services," said Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.

"We need to do better in making public information accessible for people with disabilities," said Council Member Dan Garodnick, Sponsor of Intro. 683-A. "No one should be denied access to information or services because of a disability. The City will now adopt uniform standards that are easy to use, and easy to understand."

"Disability rights are civil rights, and for too long our City has looked the other way when it comes to accommodating people with disabilities. 10 percent of New Yorkers have a disability – be it a physical disability or hearing or visual impairment – and it is our responsibility to serve these New Yorkers as best we can. 25 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, New Yorkers with disabilities continue to face barriers to full participation in civic life and in interactions with City agencies. Today's legislation is a step towards equal access for all," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, co-Sponsor of Intros. 881-A and 883-A.
"The issue of accessibility and disability is one that is often ignored because many of us don't have to deal with it on a daily basis. Accessibility to City resources is a constant problem for thousands of disabled New Yorkers, and through these two newly enacted laws we are rectifying that. Now, every City agency will have to designate an employee that will coordinate that agency's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and all public City events will have to advertise information regarding accessibility at the event. These are solutions that will make life easier for disabled New Yorkers who must deal with other obstacles. I applaud Council Member Rosenthal for leading the charge and pushing these bills in the Council, and I'm proud to have been a partner throughout the legislative process," said Council Member Ritchie Torres, co-Sponsor of Intros. 881-A and 883-A.
"Making sure vital City information is accessible to all New Yorkers is a priority of the Council's Committee on Technology," said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Committee on Technology. "These bills will improve the online experience for New Yorkers who may have had barriers preventing them from attaining information from the City. Our goal is to make all of the City's websites equally accessible to all New Yorkers, regardless of disability or limited English-language proficiency. I commend the sponsors for their efforts and commitment to passing this legislation, and I thank Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito for making these bills a priority."
The fifth bill, Intro. 478-A, requires the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to report information on City-owned buildings to help determine which additional roofs are most appropriate for the installation of photovoltaic systems, also known as solar panels. In addition, this bill requires that the City share information about the potential energy that could be generated and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that could be reduced if a photovoltaic system is installed on the roof of a City building. The reporting will include other factors for each City building such as the cost of installed photovoltaic system, including how it was financed and the energy cost savings realized by the City as a result of installing the system. This bill will help the City move towards its goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. Since 2013, solar power on City-owned buildings has grown to nearly 6 megawatts, representing an eight-fold increase. In the next three years, the City will grow to nearly 25 megawatts by having panels placed on 88 City-owned roofs, including 66 schools, multiple hospitals and the Queens Museum. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Costa Constantinides.

"Installing solar energy is a critical component of the City's long term goal to make municipal buildings more sustainable and resilient," said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. "This legislation will help us maximize the solar potential across our portfolio of buildings to achieve our renewable energy goals and ensure a greener and cleaner city."

"The reporting required by Intro. 478-A will narrow down the best City-owned sites for solar panels. This will help us reach the Mayor's goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar power on City buildings more swiftly and cost-effectively. We can also consider other building strategies that may prove even more effective at improving sustainability, including measuring the social cost of avoided greenhouse gases. This bill sets up a helpful tool for us for putting together the right strategies to get to 80 percent by 2050 in our own buildings," said Nilda Mesa, Director at the Mayor's Office of Sustainability

"This policy will help bring us closer toward our goal of increasing solar capacity and decreasing our carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The online reports on identifying solar-ready City buildings, as well as the feasibility and cost of installing solar panels required in this bill, will encourage use of solar energy and increase transparency on our city's use of renewable energy. Including cost-benefit estimates in the online reports will be useful for private property owners who are interested in installing solar panels on their own homes. They'll be able to save green by going green. I thank Mayor de Blasio and the Office of Sustainability Director Nilda Mesa for their partnership on helping us reach the 80 percent by 2050 goal," said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, and Sponsor of Intro. 478-A.

The sixth bill, Intro. 1029, extends the boundaries and increase the amount that can be expended by the Fulton Street BID, better known as the Fulton Area Business Alliance BID. The expansion of the FAB Alliance BID is part of a two-year effort to introduce comprehensive BID support to the newly created Brooklyn Cultural District. The first component – the expansion of the MetroTech BID – was signed into law by the Mayor on February 8, 2016. The expansion of the FAB Alliance BID will help to advocate on behalf of both merchants and property owners in the district; manage public spaces and maintain streetscapes within district boundaries; provide marketing and promotion services for the BID, which will include the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as collaborate with neighboring BIDs to promote the broader Brooklyn Cultural District; and provide supplemental sanitation and public safety for the neighborhood. This expansion is part of a larger package of investments in downtown Brooklyn and the Cultural District. The BID expansion will help to knit together the Brooklyn Cultural District with Fort Greene and Clinton Hill's commercial strips and institutions – driving growth and making the neighborhood more vibrant. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Committee on Finance.

The seventh bill, Intro. 1047, increases the amount that the Fulton Mall Special Assessment District can expend annually from $1,537,500 to $2,100,000. This investment will result in cleaner, safer and more vibrant streets, strengthening the local economy. This increase will help the organization to better serve the neighborhood as part of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and provide an even higher level of service and advocacy for New Yorkers. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

"New York City's 72 Business Improvement Districts have an incredible knowledge of and reach into our neighborhoods and business communities, making them important local partners in the City's efforts to uplift neighborhoods and small businesses across the five boroughs," said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. "The expansion of the FAB Alliance BID, signed into law today, will help to knit together the Brooklyn Cultural District with Fort Greene and Clinton Hill's commercial strips and institutions – driving growth and making the neighborhood more vibrant. I also want to congratulate the Fulton Mall Improvement Association on their assessment increase, which will enable the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to provide an even higher level of service and advocacy for New Yorkers. Thank you to the Mayor and the City Council for passing this important legislation."

"As Brooklyn's Cultural District continues to evolve, attracting millions of residents and tourists annually, it is critical that the infrastructure is in place to support the growth and development of the area's businesses, organizations and institutions. The expansion of the Fulton Business Improvement District, also known as the FAB Alliance, will increase its capacity to provide additional resources and programming for small business owners, merchants, property owners, community stakeholders and residents," said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.

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