WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

Karen DeWitt

The state comptroller has announced that New York is joining 28 other states in offering a program that will help parents with disabled children save money for their future.

The program is modeled on the college savings program, which also is operated by the comptroller’s office. It allows an account to be set up in the name of any New Yorker who is diagnosed with a disability before the age of 26.

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A new apartment complex in the town of Sweden is providing affordable homes for people with disabilities and low to moderate income individuals and families.

The 56-unit complex is co-owned by Lifetime Assistance and Rochester’s Cornerstone Group, a housing development and property management firm. 

Whitney MacIntyre, housing transition coordinator at Lifetime, says the new development is an inclusive environment where neighbors know neighbors and they can ask each other for help.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Despite the gray sky outside, inside the studio was quite cheerful.

The bright, colorful space housed three girls chatting about the weekend while glazing handmade bunnies.

Sarah Beren is a licensed creative art therapist and owns Spotted Rabbit, a studio with art classes, art therapy and an apprenticeship program for a population within the disability community she saw was underserved.

Julie Cataldo is strapped into a harness as she sits in her wheelchair just a few feet from the edge of the Erie Canal. A hydraulic lift hoists her from the chair and swings her out over the water.

The lift lowers her into a kayak, and its operator adjusts her seat.


Stephanie Woodward

Local disability rights advocates say they and others are starting to make progress in their efforts to change the national conversation around health care.

Over 20 Rochester-area residents were among the 101 people arrested for disrupting a Senate health care hearing in Washington on Monday.  It was the second time this year protesters saw Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act fail.

Parents of hundreds of children with special needs in New York State say their kids are not receiving the services they need. A recent report in the Democrat & Chronicle stated that in the 2016-2017 school year "nearly 400 3- and 4-year-olds in Monroe County were not evaluated for developmental delays within 60 days of their referral as required by law, according to local school district records.” The delay in referrals puts children at a developmental disadvantage, and at risk for needing costlier services in the future.

Local providers say the state’s reimbursement process is to blame: providers receive tardy and inadequate funding. Democrat & Chronicle reporter Justin Murphy explored this issue. He joins us in studio, and we’ll hear from local parents about the challenges they face. Our guests:

  • Justin Murphy, education reporter at the Democrat & Chronicle
  • Sharon Peck, parent
  • Pat Graff, director of special education at Rochester Childfirst Network
  • Cathy Rasmussen, director of York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute, and associate dean of compliance and clinical affairs at the School of Health and Human Services at Nazareth College
  • Robin Hooper, early education director for the Rochester City School District

This conversation is part of WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include, a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled.

Rosalie Winard

A woman who helped shine the light on the unique abilities of an autistic mind will be inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls next week.

Temple Grandin, an author, speaker, and champion of farm animal welfare said the honor means a lot to her.

"Because when I first started in the seventies,” she said, “being a woman in a man's industry - the cattle industry - that was hard and I had to prove that I could do it. I was really motivated to make sure that my stuff was really good and that I wasn't stupid." 

When a member of your family is in a wheelchair you may not think taking off on a kayaking adventure together on the Erie Canal is possible. However, it is. On this Need to Know segment we join in on the experience with an area mother and son sharing this special moment together for the first time through Rochester Accessible Adventures. We also learn about the work being done by RAA in an effort to revolutionize inclusion when it comes to eliminating barriers to active lifestyles for individuals with disabilities and their families. 

A living wage. That’s what a coalition of advocates and community agencies that support individuals with disabilities have been calling for in our state. The focus of that fight - the more than 120,000 New Yorkers who work with and care for individuals with disabilities. They’re called Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and according to the New York State Chapter of the Arc they’re in chronic short supply While the governor allocated $55 million in the budget this year to support a wage increase for these professionals working with nonprofits - is that enough to recruit, train and sustain employees? We examine the current state of DSPs and the challenges they’re continuing to face on this Move to Include edition of Need to Know.

A hard-fought wage increase battle saw some success this year. But workers who help those living with disabilities say they are still in need of support. On this edition of Need to Know we’ll discuss what a profession that some call underpaid and undervalued is looking for in an effort to help our most vulnerable and those trained to care for them.

Also on the show, a revolution in inclusion. We’re checking out a local group on a mission to get businesses and organizations equipped to offer recreational activities to people of all abilities.

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