We are a grassroots (aka volunteer), cross-disability, non-hierarchical disability rights advocacy organization. Originally coined Long Island ADAPT, we began in 2017 with the support of SILO (Suffolk Independent Living Organization) and LICIL (Long Island Independent Living Center in Nassau). In 2020 we expanded to include Long Island, New York City, Westchester County and Rockland County, so we could officially transition into the Downstate New York Chapter of ADAPT.
We are member responsive, seeking input from members of the disability community at large and allies who want to be active in the ongoing fight for disability civil rights through our monthly meetings, email, and social media pages. We currently are working on advocating for matters of healthcare, institutionalization, voter suppression, and the inaccessibility that hurts our community.
We engage in basic advocacy efforts all the time! We start with identifying issues from the experiences of our members, and from there develop our plan of action. We start with phone calls and emails that share Action Alerts from and supporting the work of other disability rights and services organizations. We engage in lobbying, educating the public, and directly contacting local government. When needed, we also spend some time going to more assertive advocacy (letters to the editor, news articles, teach-ins, protests, etc.), to hopefully get the accommodations or support needed for people with disabilities to be able to successfully live in their communities. Occasionally, despite all of the advocacy work done, problems are not re-solved and we end up having to resort to class action suits, direct actions and civil disobedience in order to make change and get disability civil rights respected.
Very rarely, when all other efforts have not succeeded, a protesting group of ADAPTers will plan to push a direct action of civil disobedience to the point of arrest. This is a personal decision with no pressure on members to participate – there is always a plan for those who cannot or do not want to get arrested to fall back at the first police warning. Unfortunately, many people think ADAPT always is getting arrested, because that is what makes the most news – but it really is a last resort, when thousands of hours of basic advocacy are not enough. We have nonviolent civil disobedience training for those members who want to participate when we occasionally mount or join protests, when basic advocacy isn’t enough. Any member is welcome to join us when DNY ADAPT brings a group to the National ADAPT Spring Action trips in DC, or Fall Actions (usually in other locations around the country where local chapters need support for significant advocacy events).
If you would like to know more about the history and current advocacy issues of National ADAPT, you can check out www.NationalADAPT.org and watch this important video: