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dialogue on disability

Research finds that girls with disabilities have significantly lower high school graduation rates and higher unemployment rates than their nondisabled peers. An organization called the Disability EmpowHer Network aims to provide mentoring and guidance to girls with disabilities. The goal is to "empower disabled young women to live to their fullest potential and have the confidence to lead."

Our guests share their stories of mentoring and overcoming the various obstacles facing young women with disabilities:

  • Stephanie Woodward, co-founder of the Disability EmpowHer Network
  • Jill Moore White, inclusive play specialist
  • Maddie Kasten, 14-year-old mentee

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

We have a conversation about a number of subjects related to autism. Our guests help us understand a new screening process, how to help families navigate pandemic challenges, and how to improve police interactions with people who have autism.

Our guests:

*Dr. Hyman recommends these resources for families affected by the pandemic. More information can be found here. People interested in volunteering for URMC research related to auditory processing can email developmental_research@urmc.rochester.edu.

This conversation is part of Dialogue on Disability Week, a partnership between WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies, in conjunction with the Herman and Margaret Schwartz Community Series.

CITY File Photo

Liz Pritchard has been working from home during the pandemic in a home office surrounded by her favorite things: posters of the comics she creates, original artwork, collectibles, and costumes she’s worn to Comic Con over the years.
 

Pritchard calls herself an autistic artist and advocate. While comic books are her primary focus, she’s also a painter, a poet, and a teacher.

And she’s always teaching.

“It’s good to surround yourself with things that make you feel good,” she said over Zoom. “Create an awesome environment for you to create.”

One aspect of President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan is focused on helping people with disabilities. If passed, the American Rescue Plan would end the subminimum wage for people with disabilities. The decades-old option allowed employers to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage; in some states, they were paid as little as $2.13 an hour. Biden’s plan would also provide stimulus payments for adults with disabilities who are considered dependents; those individuals were excluded from previous stimulus packages.

This hour, we discuss the plan with our guests, who weigh in on the impact it may have and what it may be missing. We also discuss their “to-do” list for the Biden/Harris administration when it comes to disability rights. Our guests: 

This conversation is part of Dialogue on Disability Week, a partnership between WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies, in conjunction with the Herman and Margaret Schwartz Community Series.

Max Schulte/WXXI News

Sky Amish goes to school at a community classroom at the Genesee Valley Regional Market in Henrietta.

Since August, Amish, who is 18, and most of the other 100-plus students enrolled at Holy Childhood have been attending in-person classes just two days a week, many of them at the school's main campus on Groton Parkway in Henrietta.

The other three days, they were learning remotely. 

Amish is not a fan of getting virtual lessons on a laptop.

"Kinda tricky ... it's kinda crazy," he said.

Karen DeWitt/New York State Public Radio

Several state senators and Assembly members say they were surprised to learn that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration does not provide internet access to people living in state-run group homes and other congregant settings -- and they want that fixed immediately.

Zoom conference still

Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, Tia Nelis of TASH, a national advocacy organization for disability inclusion, has been the facilitator of a weekly, sometimes international, video call among people with disabilities.

As part of this week's Dialogue on Disability, WXXI’s Noelle Evans talked to Nelis about the significance of those calls during a confusing and often fearful time. Below is a transcript of their conversation, edited for time and clarity. 

Tia Nelis, TASH self-advocate:

WXXI News and Step by Step Developmental Services

 

India Hedman’s daughter, Kaia, is sleeping. It’s Wednesday afternoon, and the 14-month-old is down for a nap.

Hedman picks her up out of her crib. Kaia’s head lolls against her mom’s shoulder. Her eyes stay closed.

“When she sleeps, she sleeps,” Hedman said.

We wrap up our annual Dialogue on Disability Week with a conversation about sports, media, and inclusion. Special Olympics New York is celebrating 50 years. We’re joined by an athlete who has been part of the program for 40 years, as well as RIT photojournalism students who have covered athletes’ stories.

We discuss how sports can help people discover new abilities and strengths, and how effective media coverage can help create a more inclusive society. In studio:

  • Patty VanSavage, athlete and member of the Great Tigers Club
  • John VanSavage, Patty’s brother and coach with the Great Tigers Club
  • Stacey Hengsterman, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York
  • Jenn Poggi, assistant professor of photojournalism at RIT
  • Josh Meltzer, assistant professor of photojournalism at RIT
  • Jackie Diller, photojournalism major at RIT
  • Ashley Crichton, advertising photography major at RIT

This story is reported from WXXI's Inclusion Desk.

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Kirk Matthews was winning. He had only to sink the eight ball into one of the pockets of a new pool table, and he’d have the victory.

“Eight ball, corner pocket,” he said.

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