WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

SASHA-ANN SIMONS/WXXI NEWS

It’s 8 o’clock on a Wednesday morning and a paratransit service vehicle pulls up to the front door. This is how Jensen Caraballo, a wheelchair user, gets to work and just about anywhere, outside of his apartment building. Depending on the day, or the driver, he will either make it on time or have some explaining to do.

The 24-year-old was born with spinal muscular atrophy, type 2. As a teenager his family started having a more difficult time meeting his needs. He often got sick, and he was losing weight. His doctors thought taking him out of the home would be best. At just 15 years old, Caraballo was forced to live in a nursing home.

"I finally moved in, went into my room, and I had just a box, that was it. And they kept saying this is your new home.”

A local  agency that helps victims of domestic violence says a federal grant will help it serve a part of the Rochester population that may not be getting all of the assistance it needs.

The Willow Domestic Violence Center, previously known as Alternatives for Battered Women, is getting a $425,000 federal grant to help serve those who are deaf or hard of hearing and who are also victims of domestic violence.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter announced the grant, noting that on a per capita basis, Rochester is home to the nation's largest deaf population.

Sasha-Ann Simons | WXXI News/Innovation Trail

Watch Need to Know with host Hélène Biandudi Hofer Thursdays at 8pm on WXXI-TV, Channel 21.1 and Cable 11 or 1221.

The elections are upon us and while Boards of Elections are installing technology in polling places to enable people with disabilities to vote, the enrollment amongst that community is still very low. The Center for Disability Rights is out to change that with the New York Disability Vote Network

Then we'll sit down with the CEO of Columbia Care and hear about the business model for the medical marijuana company that is housed at Eastman Business Park.

Seven years ago, New York state implemented new accessible voting systems in the election process. But the Rochester-based Center for Disability Rights remains concerned at the low number of people with disabilities making their way to the polls.

The Ballot Marking Devices were introduced at each polling place. These machines provide increased opportunities for individuals with disabilities to vote privately and independently through the use of interfaces triggered by sound and touch.

An organization that helps people with developmental and intellectual disabilities says progress is  being made in helping reduced the local unemployment rate for the types of people they are trying to help.

That according to Andrew Sewnauth, a vice president with CDS Monarch. He says recent statistics from the federal government show that the jobless rate for people with disabilities dropped about two percent, to just over 10 percent in July.  Sewnauth says his organization has helped find jobs for 35 people with those types of disabilities.

A photographer hopes to change the way people view intellectual disabilities with an exhibit coming to the George Eastman House.

In a previous life, Rick Guidotti was a fashion photographer. But he eventually got sick of being told what was beautiful and important.

"And as an artist, I never saw beauty just on the covers of magazines. I see it everywhere. So I started Positive Exposure to give us all an opportunity to see beyond those covers of magazines to see beauty in human diversity."

Veronica Volk | WXXI News

For blind and visually impaired lovers of baseball – playing the game was an impossibility more than 50 years ago. But in 1964 that changed. A baseball was invented that made a beeping sound. And with it a new sport was eventually born. Beep Baseball is an adaptation of classic American baseball, played with a pitcher, catcher, batters, and fielders.

Recently on WXXI, Special Olympic athlete and ambassador Cori Piels and Onolee Stephan, director of community health programs for Special Olympics, discussed the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. The event brings together more than 6,500 athletes from 165 countries, including more than 300 athletes from New York State. 

You can also watch a video about Cori's experience as a college student on The Institute for Innovative Transition website.

Hélène Biandudi Hofer | WXXI News

Is so-called “helicopter parenting” ruining youth sports? On this edition of Need to Know, we examine how some say the joy for the game is being impacted by parent outbursts and how this issue is resulting in some kids dropping out of sports altogether.

Also on the show, we get an inside look at a sport that makes it possible for blind and visually impaired fans of baseball to become players. It is unique and you have a chance to check out the world series of this sport right now in Rochester.

And the latest installment in our American Graduate Champions series. Meet the young founders of a summer academy for boys. The mission: to help students create their own economy through reading and writing.

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