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The New York State Board of Regents this week voted to expand options for special education students who struggle with academic exams.  

The Regents adopted regulations to expand the criteria under which students with disabilities may be eligible to graduate high school with a local diploma. That’s a high school diploma that has different requirements from those needed to get a Regents Diploma.

State Education Department officials say that some students with disabilities are unable to demonstrate proficiency on standardized tests even with certain accommodations.

Local middle school students are teaming up with students at Rochester Institute of Technology to create a therapeutic device for children with autism and other sensory challenges.

Both the Kids Miracle Making Club and RIT’s Effective Access Technology program use technology to help people with physical or developmental challenges. In a pilot program launched just this fall, Access Tech students mentored students at Brighton’s Twelve Corners Middle School, showing how the club’s program can look in a school setting.

There are major gaps in special education spending in New York. A study by the New York State Association of School Business Officials found that spending in wealthier districts for special needs students was almost double the spending in more impoverished districts.

“Special education spending in the lowest need districts is $43,635 per special education pupil while spending in the highest need districts is $25,823 per special education pupil,” wrote researchers of the study.

Karen DeWitt

New York faces fiscal challenges in 2018, but that has not stopped groups from asking for more money in the new state budget, including agencies that provide care to people with disabilities. 

Chanting, “Be fair to direct care,” about 200 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, along with their family members and caregivers, gathered in a reception area outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office Wednesday to ask for more help in paying the workers more money. 

dutchessny.gov

ThinkDifferently is an initiative started by Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro to change the way individuals, businesses and organizations relate to people of all abilities in their community.

Molinaro was in Rochester Wednesday, meeting with Senator Rich Funke, as well as a number of community organizers to talk about ways to be more inclusive to people with disabilities.

Funke said we have great awareness here, but can always do more.

Malinda Ruit/WXXI News

Sheltered workshops, where many people with disabilities go to work, have been around for decades.

But they’re controversial for a few reasons: They’re usually segregated, and most workers earn less than minimum wage because they’re paid based on how many things they produce.

Sheltered workshops are changing now, though. Some are being phased out, and some are integrating into more traditional businesses — whether people who are working in them like it or not.

When you're facing a major life change, it helps to talk to someone who has already been through it. All Things Considered is connecting people on either side of a shared experience, and they're letting us eavesdrop on their conversations in our series Been There.

James Carmody never had any doubt that he would go to college. He loved learning, he worked hard and he was excited to make a positive impact on the world.

People have been asking about the name of this podcast.

Reporter Karen Shakerdge talked to lots of people for this series; listen to how some of them describe what "Exited" means.

Also, stay tuned afterward for a preview of the third episode.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

New York Senator Chuck Schumer made a stop at the Mary Cariola Children's Center on Wednesday to push for legislation that would provide wearable tracking devices to families that need them for children, or adults who might wander away due to a disability.

The New York Democrat says that Monroe County is among one-third of counties in New York State who don't have such program right now.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

A Rochester tradition continues this year at Holy Childhood and their new Special Touch Bakery.

Over 2,400 pies are being baked for the Thanksgiving holiday at Special Touch this week. The facility’s primary mission is to provide training and employment for people in our community with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

With pies stacked taller than my head, Director of Bakery Operations Joe Perdicho showed me around the bakery floor, which has been open for about a month now. He says there has been a lot of positive energy coming from the community.

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