David Whalen, Niagara University’s First/Emergency Responder Disability Awareness Training project director and ADA coordinator, with New York state Governor Kathy Hochul.

David Whalen, Niagara University’s First/Emergency Responder Disability Awareness Training project director and ADA coordinator, attended a celebration hosted by New York state Governor Kathy Hochul in observance of the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Whalen with Kimberly T. Hill, the state's first chief disability officer.

Disability advocates from across the state were invited to the Executive Mansion on July 27, 2023, for an event that included the reading of a proclamation marking July 26, 2023, as ADA Awareness Day in New York state. Kimberly T. Hill, the state's first chief disability officer, was also in attendance. In February, Governor Hochul established the Office of the Chief Disability Officer to advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities, and appointed Hill to lead the office.

NU's FRDAT office created the state's disability awareness training for all police recruits, as well as firefighter, EMS, 9-1-1, and emergency management training. The program is customized for each first-responder discipline and is the only fully comprehensive training in the nation designed to teach first responders how to respond to emergencies involving individuals with disabilities and mental health issues.