WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

Gabriel Ponte-Fleary/RIT

According to a national registry, only 13 percent of the more than 10,000 sign-language interpreters in the U.S. identify as people of color.

RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf is trying to change that.

About a year ago, NTID established a two-year preceptorship called the Randleman Program, which specifically addresses the need for diversity in the interpreting field. 

The program was named for Valerie Randleman, the first black interpreter in RIT's Department of Access Services.

April Franklin

Over the weekend, The Golisano Foundation, Special Olympics, and Best Buddies hosted the first-ever Festival of Inclusion at Nazareth College.

Hundreds of families attended the event to kick off this year's regional Spread the Word Inclusion campaign.

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.

specialolympics-ny.org/

About 1,000 athletes and coaches from around the state are in Rochester this weekend for the 50th Special Olympics New York Winter Games.

The participants have outplayed more than 30,000 of their peers to earn a shot at an Olympic gold medal in six winter sports, according to Stacey Hengsterman, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York.

“They have won their regional competitions,” she said. “They’ve trained hard and this is their statewide finals.  So they’re excited, we’re excited there’s going to be some great competitions.

Acclaimed Irish tenor and Paralympian Ronan Tynan is coming to Rochester to speak and sing at two events. (Update: These events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.) Tynan was born with phocomelia, a lower limb disability that caused both of his legs to be underdeveloped. At the age of 20, both of Tynan’s legs were amputated after a car accident. Since that time, he has used prosthetic legs and won Paralympic medals in track and field. He’s also a physician specializing in orthopedic sports injuries and has worked in the prosthetics industry.

This hour, Tynan joins us to discuss his life and work, his career with the Irish Tenors, and more. We also talk with locals being recognized for their work promoting inclusion. Our guests:

sixflags.com/darienlake

Six Flags Darien Lake, and the other 25 Six Flags parks nationwide, has earned a "Certified Autism Center" designation, the first ever family of parks to get that classification.

The designation comes from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, which meets the credentialing needs of professionals who work with individuals with special needs and cognitive disorders.

Autism Nature Trail

Five years ago, a retired school administrator from Batavia named Loren Penman had a conversation with her neighbor. What she didn’t know then is that talk would inspire the next phase of her life. 

Penman said her neighbor was hoping that her grandson Ali, who lives in Albany, could get back to Letchworth State Park soon. She told Penman that Ali was a different kid inside the park.

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.

James Brown / WXXI News

Dozens of deaf-blind people throughout Rochester are waiting for funding to help them with everyday activities. One of them is sitting in a conference room of a nonprofit called the Center for Disability Rights.

There’s seating for 10 or 15 in the room, but there are about 25 people at this late September meeting, including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand sits at the head of the table as she hears stories from person after person in Rochester’s disability community. People like Patty Starr, who is deaf and legally blind.

As part of Dialogue on Disability Week, we continue our series of conversations about inclusion and disability rights.

This hour, we discuss the value of respite programs for caregivers and people with disabilities. Respite programs provide a variety of short-term, temporary services that allow family members to take a break from the day-to-day schedule. Research shows respite programs can improve family stability, but many people who participate in them – or would like to – say the system is difficult to navigate.

Our guests discuss their experience with respite programs, and we talk about how to make them more easily accessible for families. In studio:

  • Stephanie Woodward, disability rights advocate with DisabilityDetails.com
  • Patsy, mother of a teenager who attends Epilepsy-Pralid’s after school respite and recreational respite programs
  • Joe Abbott, vice president of operations and COO at Epilepsy-Pralid
  • Dayna Wells, community services supervisor at Epilepsy-Pralid
  • Tia Guthrie, manager of waiver services at CP Rochester

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

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