Inclusion Desk

At least one person in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts did not agree Monday when Governor Cuomo's State of the State message included a full-throated pitch for ridesharing, like Uber and Lyft.  Todd Vaarwerk, director of advocacy and public policy for the Western New York Independent Living Center, does not agree with the pitch, saying ridesharing companies do not allow access for people like him, the state's disabled community.

Mary Cariola Children's Center has helped thousands of developmentally and medically challenged children and their families since opening its doors in 1949.

Now, according to Karen Zandi, the agency’s president, a new therapeutic respite program will allow the center to better serve youth with severe behavioral issues and their families.

“It's a very innovative program where we go into a family's home for a period of time, engage with them, and help assess what's the most challenging circumstance for them,” Zandi said.

Courtesy David Irish

In Betsy Irish’s room, it’s all about the music. There is a big boom box in the corner, framed CD jackets and a special box just for Christmas music.

She’s hanging out with her dad, David Irish, at her group house in a suburb of Rochester, N.Y. They’re doing one of their usual activities — reading the dictionary.

Karen Shakerdge

A coalition of local and state advocates are asking Governor Cuomo to increase the state-regulated pay rate for workers who support people with disabilities. Family members, staff, and a bipartisan group of politicians gathered at the ARC of Monroe County to ask for a $45 million budget increase.

The coalition known as “#bFair2DirectCare” asserts that low pay creates a high worker turnover rate statewide, and especially in more rural areas.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

The battle by disabilities’ rights groups to get more funding in the new state budget for the salaries of caregivers took the form of a protest in downtown Rochester on Wednesday.

About a dozen or so protestors gathered outside the Rochester Riverside Convention Center while Governor Cuomo was inside the facility for a meeting on photonics.

The advocates sounded a concern expressed statewide, that due to the recent increase in the state’s minimum wage, some caregivers for those with disabilities may opt for other jobs that pay more in the food service or other industries.


After experiencing a difficult ordeal that drew national attention, Syracuse teen Chase Coleman is moving forward after his last visit to Rochester. For the first time since being shoved to the ground during a cross country run at Cobb’s Hill Park in October, Chase returned to the area to run once again.

Clarise Coleman, Chase’s mother, said it took some nudging to get him excited about the trip.


The Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) shares the visual works of deaf and hard of hearing artists with the public on a daily basis. The gallery showcases artwork created by current students, alumni, and artists who are nationally and internationally renowned. 


Paychex founder and philanthropist Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation have been recognized among the 30 great givers and causes by Forbes magazine in their article on “Philanthropy’s Big Bets for Social Change."

A nonprofit advisory firm, The Bridgespan Group and Forbes Magazine teamed up to showcase some of the largest, most promising philanthropic gifts aimed at solving social problems in the U.S. and around the globe.

A law firm that has filed a class action suit seeking expansion of residential opportunities for people with developmental disabilities is expecting to get a legal response soon from the state.

The law firm of Kenney, Shelton, Liptak, Nowak LLP filed the suit earlier this year against Governor Cuomo  and the head of the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Special Counsel Bruce Goldstein says the waiting list for adults who need these kinds of residential opportunities is growing, with about 2,000 families in Western New York on a waiting list right now.


Shovels are in the ground for a new 56-unit apartment complex in Brockport that will provide housing for a diverse group of residents, including people with developmental disabilities.

Gerald DeWinde, of Pittsford, is hoping to become one of the tenants at Frances Apartments.

The 46-year-old is wheelchair-bound and has been living with cerebral palsy since birth. He currently shares a house with other individuals; all are helped by support workers because of their disabilities.