WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

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. 

Disability rights advocates say they’re fed up with what they say is a lack of response from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on funding for services that help them stay in their communities, including a lack of funds to pay home health care workers adequate wages.

At a protest outside the governor’s offices Tuesday, Bruce Darling with the Center for Disability Rights displayed an award that the group fashioned for Cuomo that features a 5-inch gold screw on a trophy pedestal.

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:

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.

SASHA-ANN SIMONS/ WXXI NEWS

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.

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