New York Launches ID Program for Individuals with I/DD

In February of 2019, New York passed a law making special identification cards available to individuals with a diagnosed developmental disability. Known as I/DD IDs, these cards can be requested through the state’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The ID card is completely voluntary and is available to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. Demand for the ID cards has been high with more than 2,000 people requesting the cards in the first three days of the program.


The ID cards contain important information on both sides. The front of the card includes a general explanation of the types of behaviors that can be anticipated from someone with a developmental disability when they are approached unexpectedly. The card states “I may have difficulty understanding and following your directions or may be unable to respond.” The card further states “I may become physically agitated if you prompt me verbally or touch me or move too close to me. I am not intentionally refusing to cooperate. I may need your assistance.”

The back of the card contains a person’s name, address, and date of birth. There is also room for emergency contact information. There is also space where additional information about an individual can be added. This additional information can include tips on how to respond to a particular person.

Why ID Cards?

The ID cards are designed to make first responders, such as police officers, aware of a person’s communication and behavioral challenges. This information can be important in situations involving public safety. People with developmental disabilities have different ways of communicating and may not always be able to explain this fact to a first responder. Making law enforcement and other first responders aware of someone’s disability can protect the person from ending up in a precarious situation. Too often the behavior of those with developmental disabilities can be misinterpreted and can result in unnecessary arrests, or even shootings based on a misunderstanding. Allowing law enforcement to know up front the situation they are dealing with can help protect everyone involved.

If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disability. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.

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