Inclusion Desk

Willow and Deaf IGNITE announce partnership

Aug 4, 2020

Two organizations that have collaborated for several years have now announced a formal partnership to strengthen the ways this community responds to domestic violence and increase access to services and programs.

Willow Center President and CEO Meaghan de Chateauview says staff from Deaf IGNITE, which advocates for Deaf domestic violence survivors, will join Willow, so now the center can offer specialized services.

National Technical Institute for the Deaf

Gerard Buckley still clearly remembers July 26, 1990.

On that day, he stood alongside dozens of others in the White House Rose Garden, as then-President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

"It was really amazing," Buckley recalled. "It was everything I wish the country was today. The Republicans, the Democrats, the independents, the business community, leaders from the disability community all came together."

That day, Buckley was a young deaf man. Today, he is president of RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Until recently, Sherrodney Fulmore rode a bus to get to and from his job at Wegmans.

From his home in Rochester’s 19th Ward to the Holt Road Wegmans in Webster, the trip usually took about an hour, he said.

Fulmore rode on the Regional Transit Service’s Access buses -- the smaller shuttle-size buses that offer curb-to-curb service for people with disabilities.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Rochester area, Fulmore stopped riding the bus.

“We wanted to cut the chance of him getting sick,” said his father, Frank Fulmore.

White House Historical Association

July 26 is the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment and access to government services.

Rebecca Cokley, who served in the Obama administration and is currently the director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, recently talked to WXXI's Alex Crichton about the progress that has been made since the ADA went into effect and how much remains to be done.

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Jon Seiger was 32 years old when he lost his hearing to an infection. He calls the experience “surreal.”

“Just walking through the world and breathing and not hearing your own breath all of the sudden was very odd,” he says. “And it made life feel bizarre and surreal, and I was kind of separated from the world.”

COVID-19 has meant some difficult times for a lot of people, but those living with disabilities have been facing unique challenges.

A WXXI live forum on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities aired Thursday night on WXXI TV and radio. The virtual forum featured interviews with people who have disabilities or who are working with those with disabilities.

Memorial Art Gallery

Earlier this month, people around the world sat down to watch "Hamilton" -- the Broadway musical phenomenon written by Lin-Manuel Miranda about the titular founding father.

And they did so from their own homes, giving everyone with a Disney+ subscription access to a show they might not have seen otherwise.

Imagine if art was this accessible all the time.

“It’s not hard to do,” says Gregg Beratan, director of development for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester. “We have decades of research of making venues more accessible.”

It’s been 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, mandating public spaces be accessible to all. But it’s still an ongoing battle.

provided photo

A Rochester organization is hoping that people who are spending more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic will use some of that time to become "inclusion ambassadors."

Rochester Accessible Adventures, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that people with disabilities have access to sports and recreation, is offering online training for children who are in middle school and older.

Woody Livingston, who has very limited vision and uses a cochlear implant to help him hear, gestures with his hands as he stands for a photo portrait at his home in Henrietta, New York.
Max Schulte / WXXI News

Woody Livingston says he's an outgoing guy. 

"I like to go fishing. Go to the lake. You know, travel all around," the Henrietta man said. 

Like a lot of people who've been sticking close to home during the coronavirus, Livingston hasn't been able to do fun things like that. 

But for him, the restrictions have gone far beyond fishing. 

For Livingston, who is deafblind, it meant almost entirely losing his connections to the outside world.

Special Olympics athlete Jacob Booher-Babcock lifts his arms and legs up in a V formation as he takes part in a virtual competition.
Max Schulte / WXXI News

Sweat trickled down Jacob Booher-Babcock's flushed face in the midday sun as he pushed through a series of sit-ups. His hands and feet touched at the top when he stretched his arms and legs into a "V" formation.

Jacob smiled when his coach, Martha Pachuta, told him he just set a new personal record.

Pachuta and Jacob's mother, grandparents, and a young cousin cheer him on as he takes part in a virtual competition in the circular driveway of his grandparents' Churchville home. Normally, the Special Olympics athlete would be performing before a much bigger crowd.