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Inclusion Desk
Now in its 14th year, Candidate Free Air Time provides candidates in selected local races the opportunity to share their views with the Greater Rochester community through WXXI.Below are all the candidates that have taken our offer of Candidate Free Air Time.

How does Rochester rate as a city offering services for people with disabilities?

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The website WalletHub is out with a survey on the best and worst cities in the U.S. for people with disabilities and Rochester doesn't fare very well. The city was listed as the 4th worst among 150 cities, and an analyst for Wallet Hub Jill Gonzalez says that is partly due to a lack of jobs for people with disabilities.

“The percentage of persons with disabilities living below the poverty level unfortunately is higher than a lot of other cities here, so if you combine that with the annual cost of in-home services which unfortunately, along the Northeast coast really is a problem, that’s where the economy is really dragging on these people."

Gonzales says Rochester does better in terms of factors like the number of special education teachers, and wheelchair accessible trails and restaurants.

Stephanie Woodward is Director of Advocacy for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester. She actually thinks the city does better than this survey would indicate in terms of quality of life for those with disabilities. But one place she sees room for improvement is in getting more businesses to follow the American with Disabilities Act.

“So the things that need to be done, is we need to focus on things like making our community more accessible; we have a lot of private businesses that genuinely believe that they don’t have to be accessible.”

Woodward praised Rochester for being one of the few cities to have an ordinance requiring the removal of snow from sidewalks. She would like to see improvements in other areas, including finding appropriate housing for people with disabilities.

“We need to focus  on getting people into the community where they want to be. We have a lot of people in nursing facilities simply because they have disabilities and they need some help,” Woodward told WXXI News.

In terms of poverty and jobs, that is a problem that has to be tackled on a nationwide basis in terms of its impact on those with disabilities.