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.

The annual campaign to end the R Word in Rochester is underway.

"The R word, retarded, is an ugly and demeaning word, and has no place at City Hall or elsewhere for that matter," said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, shortly before reading a proclamation that Wednesday, March 1st is the day to spread the word to end the word in the city of Rochester.

"It not only hurts those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it hurts families and friends, as well," she said.

Just one month before the state budget is due, numerous interest groups are converging on the State Capitol, asking that they be included in the budget.

Among the more impassioned efforts is one from developmentally disabled people and their caregivers. They are seeking $45 million in state subsidies to pay workers more money to comply with the rising minimum wage in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature last year phased in an increase that will eventually lead to a $15 hourly wage in New York City and a $12.50 wage upstate.

The annual push to "End the R-Word" is back on. Is it working? Last year, a comedian in a Showtime special delivered a deeply insulting rant about people with mental disabilities. The term still comes up on occasion in pop culture.

We check in with our guests:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York State is paying $3 million to the family of a developmentally disabled boy repeatedly molested by a staffer at a state-run group home who later wrote that lax supervision at the facility made it "a predator's dream."

The former staffer, Stephen DeProspero, is now imprisoned in the Attica Correctional Facility. He was incriminated by videos and photographs he took of the molestation, which occurred from 2005 to 2008 at the facility located in central New York.

freeimages.com/Jean Scheijen

A growing number of students at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf are entering careers in science and medicine.

But the deaf and hard of hearing population remains one of the most underrepresented groups in the biomedical fields.

There's a new program in the Rochester area designed to create new opportunities for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It's called "Best Buddies" and it's run by a global, non-profit organization.

Local program manager Lindsay Jewett says this program was established in a number of area schools in the last several months, and it pairs up students who have intellectual or development disabilities with their peers who don't have those same disabilities.


RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has a connection to the Super Bowl this weekend.

On Sunday, RIT/NTID alumnus Kriston Lee Pumphrey will sign the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful” prior to kickoff.

Pumphrey is a 2010 graduate of RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology and will perform along country music star Luke Bryan and Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Phillipa Soo, who are three of the original cast members of the Broadway show Hamilton.


With 10 minutes left to go in his private session at CP Rochester, a little boy took the hand of physical therapist, Karen Terp, and led her to the hallway for an afternoon stroll.

“You want to walk? Ok,” Terp said.

Have you heard the term, “inspiration porn?” A recent episode of the sitcom Speechless on ABC explored the subject. It refers to when able-bodied people characterize people with disabilities as objects of inspiration or one-dimensional saints because they live with physical or developmental differences.

People with disabilities and disability rights activists say the term can be harmful and insulting because examples of “inspiration porn” are usually meant to benefit able-bodied people. They point to memes like the one featuring a swimmer with one leg and the phrase, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Critics also say the term shifts focus away from challenges faced by people with disabilities – accessibility, high unemployment rates, and more.

We explore different perspectives on the issue, and discuss how to create more inclusive environments. Our guests:

  • Brendan O’Riordan, communications officer for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office who was born with cerebral palsy
  • Dresden Engle, PR professional, actress, and mother of a 5th grader with cerebral palsy
  • Dr. Cyndi Kerber-Gowan, faculty member in the School of Education at Nazareth College, and faculty liaison for the LifePrep@Naz program
  • Bob Ike, superintendent of Palmyra-Macedon School District

This program is presented as 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. Dialogue on Disability is supported in part by The Golisano Foundation with additional support from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation.

It was Pablo Picasso who said “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” So to what degree can art heal, bring peace and lead to recovery in particular for those battling mental health disabilities? On this edition of Need to Know we learn about the impact of creative arts and other forms of therapy and treatment for mental illness.