(Ronkonkoma, NY-July 24, 2015) Today, County Executive Steve Bellone, Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman, Suffolk County Officials and not-for-profits celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by highlighting the ADA compliance of the Suffolk County website for those who are print/visually impaired. Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman, along with Legislators Spencer, Anker and Calarco sponsored legislation which was unanimously approved by the Suffolk County Legislature to ensure ADA compliancy of the Suffolk County website.
This weekend, on July 26, 2015, marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA and ADAAA aims to assure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities for access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.
“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Suffolk County is proud to announce that our Suffolk County website is ADA compliant,” stated County Executive Steve Bellone. “This was no small feat, as over 20,000 pages of our website have been designed to ensure those who are visually/print impaired can have access to information provided by Suffolk County.”
"Today Suffolk County is a more inclusive because we have removed a significant barrier preventing access to important information by a sector of our population, the visually impaired,” stated Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman. “Thanks to the advocacy of citizens like Albert Rizzi and the technological expertise of County employees like Doug Miller from the Information Technology Department, we have arrived at this important milestone."
People with disabilities use many forms of technology to enable them to use computers and access pertinent information. Some of those technologies include: text enlargement software, screen readers and computer programs that enable people to control the computer with their voice.
During the press conference, Albert Rizzi, who is legally blind, demonstrated access to the Suffolk County website by using his smart phone to navigate the site. As he motioned over portions of the website all information was audio enabled including description of pictures and graphics.
“My Blind Spot celebrates Legislator Schneiderman, County Executive Steve Bellone and the Suffolk County Legislature for their dedication to the disabled community by opening the virtual doors that were previously shut in Suffolk County,” said Albert Rizzi, Founder and CEO of My Blind Spot Inc. “My Blind Spot was honored to have been a part of this effort and value the hard work put forth by IT Director Douglas Miller and the rest of his team. Everyone came together and created the first accessible website in the history of Suffolk County. My Blind Spot is pleased to have been able to work on virtual accessibility here in our own backyard and we can now continue to focus on the accessibility governance for companies and municipalities nationally."
The Department of Information Technology, The Suffolk County Disabilities Advisory Board, My Blind Spot, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, SILO and the Town of Brookhaven worked tirelessly together to ensure Suffolk County’s website was accessible for those who are visually impaired. These agencies and organizations contributed to ensuring the Suffolk County website was operating at optimum accessibility:
- Albert Rizzi, CEO of My Blind Spot-assisted in running multiple assessments during the test phase, pinpointing errors that should be addressed
- Joe Delgado and SILO- coordinated testers to navigate through the site using software they would normally use to access the web – Zoom Text and Jaws
- Valerie Lewis-Suffolk Library Cooperative and Cliff Hymowitz from the Town of Brookhaven members of the working group dedicated their time and talent to ensure Suffolk County had a website that was accessible to those who are impaired.
“I would like to thank Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, the County Legislature and the Suffolk County IT staff for bringing people with disability closer to full accessibility in Suffolk County,” said Joe Delgado, Executive Director of Suffolk Independent Living Organization (SILO). “We were honored to collaborate with the county, by testing the website and providing stakeholder input. By designing a website which is accessible, people with disabilities can now navigate through the County government website and learn and thereby take advantage of all the great things Suffolk County government has to offer to all its citizens.”
“At Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB), we enable those who are blind or have a visual impairment to have the same opportunities to live and thrive in their community as sighted individuals,” said Frank Primeggia, Managing Director of Rehabilitation for HKSB. “The Suffolk County Executive’s office should be commended for making universal access to its website a priority and for its numerous other accomplishments that have enriched the lives of all its residents who are disabled.”
Suffolk County has worked hard to ensure all residents have access to County government. In addition to the website being ADA compliant, in 2012, County Executive Bellone issued an Executive Order to ensure language access for all residents offering access to translated key documents in English, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Mandarin, Haitian/Creole and Portuguese, and providing access to a "language line" service where residents can get simultaneous translation. To date, over 34 languages have been requested and translation services have been provided to ensure all residents have access to County government and services.
(Vincent Mezzonotte-Commissioner Suffolk County IT Department, Erin Quinn-Helen Keller Services, Albert Rizzi-President of My Blind Spot, Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman, County Executive Steve Bellone, Frank Primeggia-Helen Keller Services for the Blind, Managing Director of Rehabilitation Services, Marc Perez-Senior Program Analyst, Suffolk County IT Department, Joe Delgado-Executive Director of SILO, Frank Krotschinsky (seated)-Director of the Suffolk County Office for People with Disabilities, Todd Hayes-Office Systems Analyst, Suffolk County IT Department)
(County Executive Steve Bellone, Albert Rizzi-President, My Blind Spot, Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman-Albert Rizzi demonstrating access to Suffolk County website on smart phone highlighting access by visually impaired and print disabled individuals)