WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

Beth Adams/WXXI News

In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a local nonprofit is recognizing a long-time employee.

Young Kim is 37 years old. She's been working at Unistel Industries on Blossom Road in Rochester since 2002.

Unistel is a nonprofit that provides job training and placement for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Young and her colleagues work on assembly lines at the company, which is the country's number one supplier of spices for the U.S. military.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

You may have seen pictures of two local men go viral: a barber giving a man a haircut on the sidewalk because the shop wasn’t accessible by wheelchair.

But since the story went national, it’s raised questions about how people with disabilities are covered in the media.

Devin Hamilton is 30 years old. He's an engineer working in Webster, and he has cerebral palsy. He says one day, he decided to get a haircut at Joe's Upscale Barbershop, a few blocks from where he works. But when he rode his wheelchair over there, he didn't see a ramp.

We're joined by former Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, who authored the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Research shows that among similarly sized cities, Rochester is the single worst in the country when it comes to employment and poverty for people with disabilities. 

Harkin is the keynote speaker for the upcoming ROC EmployABILITY conference, which is focused on increasing employment opportunities and reducing poverty among people with disabilities. We preview that conference. In studio:

INTELLIGENT LIVES

In Rochester, the graduation rate for students with disabilities is 22 percent* compared to 40 percent nationally.  The median individual earnings for those with disabilities is $14,450. This is $4,000 below the national median.  That means Rochester’s disabled community is the poorest in the nation when compared to the 75 largest metropolitan areas.

Despite the systemic challenges of educational segregation and stereotypes, adults with intellectual disabilities are challenging the perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce.

Project SEARCH

Young adults with disabilities now have a new internship opportunity to join in Rochester.

Two organizations, Jewish Senior Life and Heritage Christian Services will offer Project SEARCH - a nationally recognized work prep program for people 18 to 35 who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Mike King is the president and CEO of Jewish Senior Life and says as a parent of an individual with disabilities, this age can be a scary time.

Aira/Wegmans

Wegmans is partnering with a high-tech company to offer a new option for people who are blind or have low-vision.

The Rochester supermarket chain is working with a California-based tech company called Aira, a firm that uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to remotely assist people who are blind or have low vision with a variety of tasks.

Tianna Manon/WXXI News

The old Gates police substation in Westgate Plaza has sat empty for roughly a decade. But on Thursday, the Autism Council cut the ribbon for the station’s new life as the Autism Family Information and Referral Services Center.

The center is a one-stop shop for families, educators and people with autism who need help with education, employment or wellness. It doesn’t provide specific services, but staff there meet with drop-in visitors to send them where they need to go.

nysenate.gov

People with special needs will have access to new ID cards that state Sen. Pam Helming says will help them communicate with emergency responders.

The City of Rochester has adopted new, accessible construction guidelines.

Stephanie Woodward is the Director of Advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester.

"It was certainly a windy road to get here, but the point is that we got here."

Woodward says the CDR has been working tirelessly with the city in order to make sure people with disabilities have access to accessible, affordable, and integrated housing in Rochester.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Luticha Doucette always knew she wanted to be a scientist, even if no one else thought she could do it.

"I was very much discouraged from going into the sciences. People would be like, 'Well, don’t you want to be a teacher?' And I would be like, yeah, teachers are great, but that’s not what my heart was in."

Pages