New legislation looks to add adult changing tables

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A state senator is pushing for legislation to install changing tables in public places for adults with special needs.

Every time Betty Williams is invited to an event, she has to wonder if there’s an opportunity to turn the tables.

“I can’t go everywhere I want to go,” Williams said. “I have to change every two hours or whenever I need to.”

What you need to know

  • State Sen. Pete Harkham has proposed new legislation — the “Travel with Dignity Act” — that would require adult changing tables in public places statewide.
  • The current adult changing tables prevent some New Yorkers from traveling
  • The senator said seniors, trauma-injured veterans and those born with disabilities could all benefit from the legislation.

Williams has post-polio syndrome and paraplegia. She uses a wheelchair and lives in an apartment owned by Constructive Partnerships (CP) Unlimited in Wappingers Falls.

When a group went on a trip to Albany, Williams said she couldn’t go because there were no adult-changing facilities on the way to the Thruway and in the state capital.

“I was angry, I was angry because I wanted to go; Sometimes I want to go to Albany, but they don’t have any changing tables,” Williams said.

New York State Senator Pete Harkham has proposed a new law – “Travel with Dignity” – that would provide adult changing tables in public places in the state, including rest areas, museums, libraries and state-owned facilities.

“People should have the dignity of privacy and accommodations that are appropriate for their needs. And right now, we don’t,” Harkham said. “It’s an opportunity to give back to people who give so much to others.”

The senator said seniors, trauma-injured veterans and others born with disabilities could all benefit from the legislation.

Diego Ortiz has cerebral palsy. He can travel but sees the direct struggles that those who need his help go through more than he does.

“I feel bad for people who can’t go anywhere and join our activities,” Ortiz said.

He said it is important to install appropriate facilities for these groups of people to create social relations.

“They can’t make friends [without the facilities]And … this is unacceptable,” Ortiz said.

With this proposed legislation, it is hoped that more people will have access to travel and events such as concerts and sports games.

Harkham said he hopes to see the bill go to committee when the Legislature returns in January.

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