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Inclusion Desk

The Inclusion Desk is a multi-platform reporting effort by WXXI News to inform and transform attitudes and behavior about inclusion. The Inclusion Desk grew from the Move to Include partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation. Through programming and special events, WXXI and the Golisano Foundation look to build a more inclusive community by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.

Autism Nature Trail

A mile-long Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park is expected to open to the public later this year. It’s a project that has been over a half-decade in the making.

Back in 2016, the Humphrey Nature Center opened as a year-round facility that focused on providing educational opportunities. 

New York State Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Erik Kulleseid said Letchworth’s Autism Nature Trail is, in many ways, an offshoot of their most recent nature center.

New York State Senate

Republicans in the New York State Senate claimed Friday that policies enacted by the state during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic may have put residents at group homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at risk of contracting the coronavirus. 

The group of Republicans likened the policy, which is still in effect, to one that was briefly enacted at nursing homes, where some believe the change may have led to more deaths.

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

In the latest WXXI Business Report, there's a new relationship between Starbridge and Al Sigl Community of Agencies. What will that mean for the two local non-profits that help provide services for adults and children with disabilities?

Plus, Fuccillo Auto Group is a little less “huge” by selling five dealerships -- two in the Rochester area -- to a Binghamton-based auto dealer.

Also, Rochester Regional Health is closer to producing all of its electricity through renewable sources.

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.

Ericka Jones

When Erica Jones looks for a place to call home, her must-haves are non-negotiable.

“Can I get through the front door? Are there steps? And can I get inside the bathroom and turn around?" she asked. 

Jones uses a wheelchair, so space is important.

“If I can't maneuver the bathroom, that deems the entire apartment unlivable,” she said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 made public spaces more accessible, but many of the civil rights law’s regulations don’t apply to residential housing.


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.

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