Inclusion Desk

freeimages.com/Anders Wiuff

For people with disabilities, navigating the sidewalks following a big snow storm can be less problematic than trying to operate a wheelchair in just a bit of snow or slush.

That's because the city of Rochester clears sidewalks if four or more inches of snow falls.  It's up to residents to remove snow from sidewalks with less than four inches of snow, and the city this year reminded residents about that policy.

But Stephanie Woodward of the Center for Disability Rights says people with disabilities don't always trust that the rules will be followed.


A non-profit called GiGi's Playhouse wants to create a community center in Rochester for people with Down syndrome.

The group was established by parents of children with Down syndrome in 2003 in Illinois. It has since grown to more than 20 other cities, and accommodates people of all ages and other disabilities.

Chris Tumminelli is the father of a boy with Down syndrome.

"A very happy father, with a beautiful boy named Lannon. He's 8 years old. From the moment he was born I got involved with what I could do to make his life better."


The high temperature on Sunday is expected to be only around 10 degrees with below zero wind chills again.

But the organizer of the annual Polar Plunge on Lake Ontario doesn’t think that will keep people away. In fact, Sam Gerbino  says it seems that the colder it is, the more people that turn out, and this Sunday he’s expecting more than two thousand people to show up at Ontario Beach Park.

He tells WXXI News you don’t even have to jump all the way into the water. 

J-Mac, Ten Years On

Feb 11, 2016
Alex Crichton

A celebration was held Thursday to mark one of sports amazing feats: Jason McElwain's 20 point performance in the waning moments of a game against Spencerport.

McElwain, a teenager with autism, was the team's manager, and coach Jim Johnson decided to give him an opportunity late in the game.

Johnson says J-Mac's performance gave inspiration and hope to a lot of people.

Thursday, J-Mac teamed up with his former coach again and the AutismUp organization for a fundraising luncheon.

The keynote speaker was Roy Firestone, formerly of ESPN and a public speaker.

The barriers are immense when it comes to individuals with disabilities seeking employment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17% of people with a disability were employed in 2014. That’s compared to nearly 65% of individuals without a disability. One of those barriers to the labor force is a lack of certain educational skills. Tied to that, for some, is a lack of literacy training. But a Monroe County book club connected to a national book club movement, is not only tearing down some of these barriers, but also breaking stereotypes and building a sense of community for adults with developmental disabilities.


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — An ex-lawmaker has established a foundation building a software application for families and caregivers with information about rights and resources for developmentally disabled New Yorkers.

Retired Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, whose disabled son Ricky lives in a state-supported residence, says he still hears from people seeking information.

The nonprofit Harvey and Ellen Weisenberg Special Needs Resource Corp. is accepting tax-deductible donations to build it.

If you use hearing aids or have cochlear implants equipped with what's called a "T" coil, you can now use them at Wegmans.

Induction hearing loops have been in performance halls, churches and movie theatres for years, but Wegmans spokesperson Jo Natale told WXXI they haven't been used much in stores yet.

"You have hearing loss, and you're wearing a hearing aid that has a tele-coil, you can hear the cashier speaking to you much more clearly, if there's a hearing induction loop installed at that location,” said Natale.


If you remember J-Mac's big basketball game at Greece Athena, do you realize it's been ten years?

"I've gone from somebody that's an ordinary autistic kid to somebody who's inspired others."

On Tuesday, Jason MacElwain and his coach Jim Johnson announced a February 11 fundraiser for the growing local support group Autism Up.

"It's just been a wonderful, wonderful ten years and it's just unbelievable," said MacElwain.

The Al Sigl Community of Agencies is going to receive a $3 million gift from local philanthropist and entrepreneur Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation. That is the largest gift Al Sigl has ever received from a living donor.

Al Sigl is a network of organizations that serves more than 55,000 children and adults with special needs. Officials say that $3 million commitment will fund improvements to the Al Sigl campus on Elmwood Avenue.


Jon Schull is transforming lives for young people in need of limbs. The RIT research scientist is the founder of e-NABLE, an organization that uses 3-D printing to create limbs for children at no cost. While kids would outgrow traditional prosthetic arms that cost around $40,000, e-NABLE can make them for less than $20 each. Watch Schull’s Innovation Trail story from PBS NewsHour.

(Video after the jump)