WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

Max Schulte/WXXI News file photo

A pop-up clinic Saturday will focus on vaccinating Rochester’s deaf refugee population.

The clinic, hosted by the nonprofit Deaf Refugee Advocacy, will offer first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind new Americans. 

Center for Disability Rights

A two-day COVID-19 vaccination clinic in downtown Rochester is providing Moderna shots for people with disabilities through a partnership with the Center for Disability Rights, AcuteKids pediatric urgent care, and Monroe County. 

The clinic is expected to vaccinate 60 people in a vulnerable population; according to the National Institutes of Health, people with developmental and intellectual disabilities have been harder hit by the pandemic's effects.

When COVID-19 vaccines first became available, a local doctor noticed a gap in access when it came to people with disabilities. Dr. Tiffany Pulcino and her team work with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and complex medical conditions. They set up mobile vaccine clinics throughout Rochester for their patients. So far, they have helped more than 2,000 patients receive vaccines.

This hour, we discuss the challenges the pandemic has presented for people with disabilities – from access to health care and vaccines, issues related to isolation from support systems, and more. Our guests: 

  • Tiffany Pulcino, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and medical director of the UR Medicine Complex Care Center 
  • Michelle Labossiere-Hall, associate vice president of customized support at Heritage Christian Services 
  • Stephanie Ramos, advocate and patient of Dr. Pulcino

This story is produced by WXXI's Inclusion Desk, focusing on disabilities and inclusion.

Center for Disability Rights

While additional funding for home-based services was excluded from the first two coronavirus relief bills, people with disabilities and their families will finally see some relief in the new stimulus package.

The package includes $350 billion in aid to states and localities to provide services to people with disabilities. 

provided photo

It's been tough for a lot of people to get  a COVID-19 vaccine - with challenges like finding out where it’s available and getting an appointment and even determining whether you are eligible to get the shot.

Having a disability can make the process even more complex.

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

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.


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