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Andrew Karnhan

Karhan Testifies Before NYS Assembly

Recommendations to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities were provided to lawmakers.

Yang-Tan Institute Co-Executive Director Andrew Karhan testified before the New York State Assembly at a public hearing Wednesday on employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“While testifying at a legislative hearing is a new experience for me, working with partners across executive branch agencies is not new,” Karhan said. “In 2014, I had the distinct honor to work with many commissioners across agencies related to the implementation of the Employment 1st Commission, of which this work will ideally build upon.”

In the report he presented to the legislature, Karhan explained that New York is currently home to 1,075,074 individuals, ages 18-64, with disabilities, and while the employment rate of those individuals is above the national average, it lags behind states such as California, Florida and Texas. New Yorkers with disabilities received Supplemental Security Income at an average of $9,629 annually, which is 28% lower than the federal poverty rate, he said.

Nevertheless,” he wrote, “there are critical levers to foster employment success emerging in the field. Looking to these landmarks at the federal and state level can offer a series of guideposts for New York state to consider as the state moves to increase employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.”

During his testimony, Karhan suggested five recommendations for improving employment outcomes to individuals – broad adoption of customized employment, redefining the world of work, introducing a new approach to supporting youth, partnering with and incentivizing employers, and navigating the world of social benefits.

“Testifying was an invigorating experience, as this work is my passion, and is integral to the work of the Yang-Tan Institute,” Karhan said. “Overall, it was received well, and there will be follow-up conversations, and additional work with our legislative partners to move this vision forward.

“It is my belief yesterday marked a day in New York state history where we ignited significant change related to improving the employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities.”

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