Advocacy Network




The New York Statewide Systems Advocacy Network (SSAN) is a project that was originally prioritized in the New York Statewide Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) for 2002-2004. Please see text from the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, below in italics. It is highlighted to emphasize systems advocacy themes consistent with the SSAN.

Chapter 1, Title VII, Section 701: Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to promote a philosophy of Independent living, including a philosophy of consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equal access, and individual and systems advocacy, in order to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of American society, by:

1) Providing financial assistance to States for providing, expanding, and improving the provision of independent living services; and

2) Providing financial assistance to develop and support statewide networks of Centers for Independent Living.

The Statewide Systems Advocacy Network (SSAN)is made up of hundreds of individuals across New York State working together to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.  The SSAN employs a variety of strategies and methods designed to achieve a barrier free, fully inclusive society for everyone, including individuals with disabilities.

The SSAN consists of a group of volunteers who stand “at the ready” whenever their help is needed.  Usually assistance is requested to support or oppose a piece of legislation or a legislative issue that will impact the lives of individuals with disabilities.  When this happens, the network is asked to respond in one or more of a variety of ways such as:

  • Contact legislators by phone, fax and/or email
  • Write a letter to the editor in support of or opposition to a legislative issue
  • Provide oral and/or written testimony on a given topic
  • Participate in voter registration drives, voter pledge drives and/or get out the vote campaigns

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About our Systems Advocate


Before joining RCAL, Alex worked as the co-founder of Abilities Connect, an accessibility consultancy. He has also worked for the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities (NALSWD).

During his time at AAPD, Alex met with U.S. Senators and staff to advocate for the appointment of judges with disabilities to better represent the diversity of U.S. citizens. Alex is a volunteer tax preparer for the AARP Tax-Aide program, a peer mentor with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, and on committees for the Newburgh Illuminated Festival. He is a member of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the United Spinal Association, the National Federation of the Blind at Large Chapter, the National Eagle Scout Association, and the National Association of Attorneys with Disabilities.

For more information regarding the Advocacy Network, please contact Alex Thompson at 845-331-0541, x 37.

Read the article “From Injury to Employment” written by Keith Gurgui, former Systems Advocate.


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