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Renaming of the “Erie County Office for the Disabled” to the “Erie County Office for People with Disabilities.”


Erie County, NY On Thursday, March 17th, the Legislature of Erie County unanimously passed a resolution changing the name of the “Erie County Office for the Disabled” to the “Erie County Office for People with Disabilities.” The change was introduced by Legislator Patrick Burke (7th District) and co-sponsored by all ten of his colleagues

“This change is long past due,” said Legislator Burke. “The new language makes the name of this important office more sensitive to our neighbors with disabilities. As we all know, they are not defined nor confined by their disability and this name change reflects that sentiment.”

“This day in age, we should always be thinking about the person first. Whether it is race, religion, or disability,” said Rhonda Frederick, President of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of western New York. “People with disabilities represent a large segment of our population. However, first and foremost they are our loved ones, neighbors and co-workers. I applaud Legislator Burke and the Erie County Legislature for undertaking this important change.”

Douglas Farley, Director of the Museum of disability History, was pleased to hear of Legislator Burke’s resolution passing. “A person’s disability is part of who they are, but not all that they are,” he said. “It’s great that we are no longer going to define a person or group of people by one aspect of their lives. Everyone deserves to be a ‘person’ first.”

“A few weeks ago, Secretary of Labor and Buffalo born and raised, Tom Perez was at Bennett High School where he spoke eloquently about the contributions of people with disabilities to our country,” said Kevin Horrigan, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs, People Inc.  “Perez said,’ let’s talk more about the person; the ABILITY part and not the DIS part.’ Legislator Burke’s resolution is the same vain.  The person first!”

Doug Usiak, Executive Director of WNY Independent Living, assisted the county in creating the office 33 years ago. “This name change continues Erie County's progressive thinking in its support and resources for people with disabilities by publically endorsing that people with disabilities are citizens of this county, and by placing the people first concept forward, are supporting all of our efforts to fully empower our residents with disabilities to first-class citizenship,” Usiak said.

The name change will now be sent to the Erie County Charter Revision Committee for their review and action. The resolution states that the change will be for all instances going forward so as not to relay the cost the taxpayers of Erie County.