WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

Rochester is home to the nation's largest deaf population per capita, and throughout the years, the city has been praised for its efforts to promote accessibility and inclusivity among the deaf community. Kodak and Xerox provided jobs for deaf people, local hospitals led the way in staffing interpreters, and this year, NTID is teaming up with the University of Rochester to offer training and resources for deaf scientists. In 2006, the New York Times said, “It is here that the world of the deaf intersects the world of the hearing as in no other city.”

Despite all of this, there are still misconceptions among the hearing community that impede further progress. This hour, we talk to members of the Deaf community about Deaf culture, the challenges they face, and what they hope to see for a more inclusive future. Our guests:

  • Matthew S. Moore, president of MSM Productions, Ltd, author of For Hearing People Only, and publisher of Deaf Life Magazine
  • Matthew J. Schwartz, ASL teacher at Rush Henrietta High School, ASL coach, and performer
  • Darcy O'Dell, interpreter
  • Anthony Bizzarro, interpreter

This conversation is part of WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include — a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled. You can watch this conversation, with captions, on City 12 or at:

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI

One disability rights activist says that often people are too quick to assume someone with a disability can’t make their own decisions. Emily Ladau, a writer and editor in chief of the Rooted in Rights blog, visited Rochester recently to raise awareness about a different way of thinking called self-direction.

rochesteraccessibleadventures.org

An organization in Rochester is working to establish real time access to recreation and sports for people with disabilities.

Rochester Accessible Adventures is about a year old, and Executive Director Anita O’Brien says their mission is to train recreational businesses to offer their services to everyone.

"I love the idea of adventure and that each person is able to choose what that means to them in life. Particularly in RAA it really is focused on recreation, active healthy lifestyle opportunities."

Beth Adams/WXXI News

Starting last summer, law enforcement officers across Monroe County received special training to improve their communication and interactions with individuals who are on the autism spectrum.

Now, the Monroe County Association of Chiefs of Police is asking the public to help in this effort by making it easier for police to identify people who have autism.

Individuals with autism and families who have a member on the autism spectrum are asked to put an autism awareness magnet on the left rear side of their vehicle.

Alex Crichton

A new facility will soon be open to serve children and families dealing with autism spectrum disorder.

The ribbon was cut today on UR Medicine's Neuromedicine and Behavioral Health Center on East River Road.

Dr. Nina Schor is Pediatrician-in-Chief at Golisano Children's Hospital.

She says the center will serve as an outpatient facility.

Last week the Supreme Court unanimously ruled on a case that some say may change special education.

Advocates from the Center for Disability Rights and other organizations are calling on local Republican congressional members to preserve critical components of the Affordable Care Act that would affect disabled populations.

Damita Peace works with the Regional Center for Independent Living and said most importantly, they’re asking for the continued right that people with disabilities can live and receive necessary care in their homes, rather than institutions.

Sesame Street Workshop

Sesame Street is introducing a new Muppet to its cast, and she is unlike any Muppet they have had before.

Her name is Julia, and she has autism.

The character was introduced online in 2015, but will now become a regular on the television show.

Rachel Rosner, the director of education and support services at Rochester-based Autism Up, said introducing a character with autism is a huge step forward for the show — and for raising awareness.

Martin Kaufman / WXXI News

Rainey Walker had been out of work for about four years.

But that all changed when he partnered up with the Arc of Monroe’s Job Path program, which works to find jobs for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

After completing development training and assessments, Walker decided to give being a cashier a shot.

Walker has been working at Hart’s Local Grocers in Rochester for about three months now. He said there’s a lot about his job that he likes.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) The New York State Senate and Assembly are in agreement on a plan to increase funding for the care of the developmentally disabled. 

The Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly both included $45 million in additional funding in their chamber's proposed state budgets. 

The money would support pay raises for the direct support professionals who care for people with developmental disabilities. Low pay has created high turnover and staffing shortages. 

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