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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.

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As of noon today, more than 13,000 people had signed a petition started by a Gates family who are in a battle with the Gates Chili School District over how to accommodate a second grader's service dog.

Seven-year old Devyn Pereria suffers from a rare genetic condition that involves a form of Autism and Epilepsy. Her mother, Heather, said despite some severe physical disabilities, Devyn has gained a certain amount of autonomy thanks to her service dog.

Representatives for a local advocacy organization disagree with Rochester’s ranking in a poll of the best and worst cities for Americans with disabilities.

This week, WalletHub ranked Rochester in the middle of the road—92nd of 150 cities. Buffalo was ranked 47th.

Stephanie Woodward, Director of Advocacy at the Center for Disabilities Rights, disagrees with that ranking.

RIT is being credited by the National Organization on Disability as being a good example of a university that has successfully bridged the employment gap for students with disabilities.

The private, non-profit group promotes the full participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life.  Advocates for people with disabilities say that nationally there is a 46 percent unemployment rate for college grads that have a disability.

New U.S. Labor Department regulations will require federal contractors – of which there are nearly 50,000 companies with approximately 200,000 establishments – to set a target of having 7 percent of their workforce be comprised of employees with disabilities. Colleges and universities are being asked to do more to adequately prepare students with disabilities for the workforce, because current statistics show they are not prepared.  RIT is being cited as a shining example of what one university is doing in this arena. The National Organization on Disability hosted a news conference with RIT, and they join us to talk about how to make a workplace achieve this standard. 

In the first part of the show, we talk to new age recording titan David Lanz, who now makes Rochester his home. He talks about 30 years in the industry, and why he still wants to crank out an album every single year. 

Then, as part of our Move to Include series, we learn all about Camp EAGR. We welcome Mike Radell, Director of the camp, along with Lisa Noonan, a board member of Epilepsy-Pralid, Inc.

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Being allowed to use the old lever voting machines in local elections around New York State is being called a "huge step backwards."

That's according to David Sutliff-Atias, the assistant director of advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester.

Local kids with physical challenges and other special needs will soon have the opportunity to see what it feels like to climb a tree.

"The doors that have opened up for us at the camp are just incredible," says Rotary President, Tracy Armstrong.

The Rochester Rotary is building a wheelchair accessible wooden treehouse at its Sunshine Campus in Rush.

The club house will be approximately 15 feet above ground. It features wide wheelchair accessible ramps, sensory equipment and an enclosed cabin.

(This is Part 2 of a two-part report. Read the full piece here.)

On the surface, the PS 177 Technology Band looks like a typical high school orchestra. But there are two big differences. First, while they use traditional instruments, they also play iPads. And all of the band members have disabilities. Some have autism spectrum disorders.

"I'm Tobi Lakes. I'm 15 years old. I'm in ninth grade. I'm four grades away from college."

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