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disability

Philipe Rivera is sitting in his powered wheelchair on the Monroe County Department of Human Services campus.
Max Schulte / WXXI News

Philipe Rivera goes by "Flip." He's 34 years old and has cerebral palsy. He has a tattoo on his arm, uses a wheelchair, and communicates through a device called a DynaVox. 

"I also use a head pointer for my personal PC," Rivera said. "I cannot use my hands. I rely on people to help me with getting dressed, feeding, bathing, etc."

He's been at Monroe Community Hospital since he was 20. Before that, he lived with his mom who was struggling with substance abuse. She couldn't care for him, so he was placed in the nursing facility owned by Monroe County. He said it's never felt like a home. For 10 years, he's been trying to get out. 

Here's something you may not know: People with disabilities are not guaranteed the right to live in the community.

The first-ever Festival of Inclusion kicks off on Sunday. The community-based event organized by the Golisano Foundation, Best Buddies, and Special Olympics will promote equality and respect, and include activities accessible to people of all different abilities.

Our guests this hour preview the festival and discuss their ideas for how to create a more inclusive community. Our guests:

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.

It’s Dialogue on Disability Week at WXXI. Throughout the week on Connections, we’ll host a series of conversations about inclusion and disability rights.

This hour, we discuss speech therapy with a local mother whose young son has benefited from services provided by a number of community agencies, including the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center. Cooper was diagnosed with several conditions, including Global Body Dyspraxia, Apraxia of Speech, and Sensory Processing Disorder. His mother, Meghan, joins us to share his story and how his communication skills have developed as a result of different therapies. We also discuss the impact of early intervention services and more. In studio:

  • Meghan, Cooper’s mother
  • Sara Calus, physical therapist, and lead PT/OT clinician at the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center
  • Debra L. Cecere, licensed speech language pathologist at the at the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center
  • Valorie Stotz, licensed speech language pathologist, and preschool administrator

This story is reported from WXXI's Inclusion Desk.

Local disability rights activist Stephanie Woodward recently wrote an opinion piece for the Spina Bifida Association about why she loves her disability. Woodward was born with spina bifida and has been an outspoken advocate for disability rights and disability pride.

In her piece, she writes, "Because I love my disability identity, I have never seen my disability as a problem. And because I have never seen my disability as a problem, I have never supported curing spina bifida or even preventing it. In fact, when I hear someone say 'I think the world would be a better place if we could prevent babies from having your disability in the future,' what I hear is 'I think the world would be a better place without people like you.'"

Many people praised Woodward's comments, while others pushed back. Woodward joins us for the hour to discuss her perspective and disability pride. In studio:

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

Spectrum News

Abigail Hernandez’s legal team filed an appeal Tuesday. That’s after losing a bond hearing earlier this month. Her immigration attorney compares the case to something out of a Lewis Carroll novel.

Hernandez is a 22-year-old woman with an intellectual disability. She made an online threat against East High School in Rochester back in 2018. Though protected under DACA at the time, she is now an immigrant without legal status.

How much do you know about dyslexia? About 40 million American children and adults are affected by the disorder, but research shows that not all pediatricians ask parents about signs of possible learning issues in their children.

On Wednesday, Starbridge is holding a free workshop for families about understanding dyslexia. It will also hold a conference on Thursday. We preview those events as we discuss what dyslexia is, misconceptions surrounding the disorder, and how schools and families can support children who are struggling with this invisible disability. In studio:

  • Courtney Hathaway, school social worker
  • Kara Olds, family education specialist at Starbridge

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

While the American Health Care Act is being considered by Congress, local disability rights advocates are taking action. They’re calling on President Trump to support the Disability Integration Act (DIA). They’re also calling for people with disabilities to have a voice in the health care reform debate. One of those advocates who recently traveled to Washington is Ericka Jones of the Center for Disability Rights.

Jones joined a demonstration outside the White House which led to more than 80 arrests according to the disability rights group ADAPT. She explains the potential impact of the DIA on all sectors of the community.

Ryan Delaney/WRVO

Connections host Evan Dawson said it was the most powerful moment of the week.

A woman who identified herself as "Janet" broke down during a call to Connections on Wednesday while describing the shame she feels simply for being on Medicaid. She called the show to ask about transportation options available for her son and for herself, because she is physically disabled and her son is also dealing with disabilities. In discussing her background, she said she feels shame, and then became emotional as she said, "It's like you don't feel right out there, because people look at you as wanting a handout. It does not feel right when you feel yourself that way. It's just not right." Later she explained, "You feel like you're worthless."

Listen to the call between Janet and host Evan Dawson here: 


Coming up on Connections: Wednesday, January 22nd

Jan 22, 2014
University of Rochester

12 Noon: The future of corrective eye surgery: Fixing our eyes without cutting the cornea

1pm: Livable communities: Where we're succeeding, and where we're failing.