Imagine a world that is accessible to everyone--where no barriers to independence exist; where you're allowed to be yourself and free to let your disability be just one more part of you. Together we can shape this world. Join the Independent Living (r)evolution! Our unity can be a potent force for change. In addition to providing services, the Southern Tier Independence Center is a gathering place for people and information. Our joint efforts in understanding the issues and concerns of people with disabilities can pave the way to this more accessible world. The Center believes that people have the right to be responsible for making their own choices. By working with you rather than for you, we respect your ability to know what's best for you. If any of our services seem like a good option for you, we'd like to meet you! All services are free unless otherwise indicated.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 18, 2014
Contact: Richard Farruggio (607) 724-2111
Southern Tier Independents Center Announces Support Group for People With Visual Disabilities
Thursday October Ninth
We’re excited to be offering a new Support Group for adults with visual disabilities.
This group is designed to support people of all ages who want to discuss and help others resolve issues experienced in our daily lives.
For people who are newly diagnosed with vision loss, coping with daily chores such as cooking, cleaning, identifying money, or even dialing a telephone can be especially challenging.
As a group we can problem solve, share useful information about assistive technology, learn how to advocate for ourselves, share strategies on navigating the sometimes complex service system, and much more.
If you or a family member is totally blind or has a visual impairment, we invite you to join us.
Family Education and Training Sessions
Addressing Student Anxiety - A Forum for Parents and School Personnel
What: FREE KICK-OFF EVENT for Southern Tier Special Education Task Force
When: October 2, 2014, 9 AM - 12 Noon
Registration from 8:00 - 8:45 am
Where: Southern Tier Independence Center
135 East Frederick Street Binghamton, NY 13904
Schools are seeing an explosion of anxiety in their students of all ages. Experienced professionals will share essential information about anxiety, its impact on students, and effective strategies for intervention by parents and educational professionals.
Please RSVP by 9/25/2014 to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by mail to Sue Ruff, STIC, 135 E. Frederick St., Binghamton, NY 13904
The Southern Tier Special Education Task Force
is a regional affiliate of the NYS Special Education Task Force.
STIC now has a "Close BDC" petition on Moveon.org. The link is at the end of this email. Please sign and circulate widely.
A sample from the petition is below. Click on the link to see the full text and to sign on.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids state governments to discriminate on the basis of disability in delivering programs and services. The 1999 US Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v L.C. defines unnecessary segregation as illegal discrimination under the ADA and requires states to serve people with disabilities in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. The Olmstead decision and federal regulations also require that evaluations to determine what is âappropriateâ must be professional, objective, and impartial.
BDC is also extremely expensive to maintain ($450,000 per person per year). People can receive integrated community-based services for a third of that cost or less, while experiencing a much improved quality of life that supports their dreams and goals.
What about all the job loss?
NYâs Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has stated that it does not plan to lay any one off as a result of closing BDC. They say equivalent jobs will be available in community service programs. Nearly all of the residents leaving BDC will move to more integrated settings in Broome and surrounding counties. New programs will be created, and others will be expanded, to serve them. Almost all of the current BDC staff will find jobs in those programs.
What should happen to the people who live in BDC?
OPWDD has already closed several similar institutions, moving people into other more integrated settings. Services already exist to support people in the community.
We call upon NY OPWDD and public officials to close BDC as scheduled, and ensure that those transitioning into the community have adequate supports to assist them with housing, employment, recreation/socialization and behavioral issues.
Please sign this petition and send it to your friends, so that people with disabilities can be freed from segregation and enjoy the rights and independence to which they are entitled. That's why I created a petition to Laurie Kelley, Commisioner, OPWDD, Debbie Preston, Broome County Executive, The New York State House, The New York State Senate, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, which says: "Southern Tier Independence Center (STIC) urges you to join us to ensure that BDC closes by March 31, 2016, as scheduled. BDC is a large institution that segregates people with developmental disabilities, restricting their choices, their lifestyles and their civil rights." Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/ensure-that-broome-developme?source=c.fwd&r_by=10594430
Special Statement on Broome Developmental Closure Issues
March was National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Sadly, we in Broome County seem to have celebrated it by promoting ignorance and hatred.
The high privilege of being elected or appointed to office comes with the responsibility to learn, and promote, the truth about public issues. But in recent events concerning the planned closure of Broome Developmental Center (BDC) and its Local Intensive Treatment (LIT) Unit, several local politicians and officials have not stood for truth.
They have instead accepted verifiably false rumors at face value, and promoted fear and panic in this community. They have contributed to an atmosphere in which threats of violence have been made against at least one citizen, who is now facing homelessness as a result of misinformed prejudice. They have recklessly aided and abetted a witch hunt, and will share responsibility for any harm that comes to anyone as a result.
All of us share our communities with criminals. None of us knows whether our neighbors, disabled or not, have committed assaults, murders, kidnappings, armed robbery, or arson, or whether they are likely to do it again. People are very nervous about sex crimes. But is there a rational explanation for why we publicize the location of people who inappropriately touch someone, but do not tell everybody where all the drunk drivers who have killed children live?
A federal Department of Justice study found that strangers were the offenders in fewer than 5% of sexual assaults against pre-teen children. Over 95% of these acts were committed by people known to the children and, most likely, to their families. Did knowing those people and where they live protect the children? No, it did not. But it’s easier for people to hate and hound and ostracize strangers than it is for them to take responsible action to make sure their spouses, siblings, and friends don’t molest their kids.
Society’s response to this issue is almost entirely emotional, and that’s how politicians make hay. Several of them are now saying that we need legislation so we can permanently lock up people who are merely accused of crimesbut only if they have disabilities.
This is, of course, unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, and illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is also outrageous. And all of the elected officials involved in this hysteria know better.
But most of them get significant campaign support from public employee unions, including those representing workers at BDC.
For decades, people have been released from forensic units operated by the NY State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) all over the state, none of whom committed dangerous acts after release. When people are released one or two at a time, here and there, there’s no public uproar. Most of these people were admitted voluntarily, and have never been accused or convicted of a crime. They can leave any time, with 72 hours’ notice. Court-remanded people, whether “competent” to stand trial or not, cannot be released, nor can they just walk out.
These witch hunts only seem to occur when an OPWDD facility is scheduled to be closed. We saw it in Rochester last year, and now we’re seeing it here. STIC also has email evidence that recent local events were encouraged by union leaders.
Closing these facilities will mean a loss of union jobs. Not a net loss; the people being released need lots of support services, and new jobs will be created to provide them. But the unions that are still preventing OPWDD from firing workers who abuse people in state facilities will lose jobs. Those unions will get less dues revenue; their leaders will have lower salaries; and they won’t be able to give so much money to political campaigns. It’s easy to see what’s really motivating these people.
Our leaders are supposed to lead informed citizens, not follow angry mobs. And they are supposed to put the rights of the people ahead of the interests of campaign contributors. The responsible thing for them to do now is to:
1. Publicly condemn the illegal actions of people who release confidential information.
2. Publicly state that most of the information being spread by the rumor mill is false.
3. Support OPWDD’s perfectly adequate plan to maintain 150 beds in two secure locations to house truly dangerous people after BDC closes.
4. Stop calling for new laws to rescind the habeas corpus rights of people with disabilities who are not convicted of crimes.
Who We Serve
All of our services are available to people with all disabilities of all ages and their families. Many are also offered to businesses, agencies and governments.
All services are offered in the following counties:
Please see our services link above for specific information regarding all programs and counties served.
If you can suggest any other steps we can take toward building this accessible world, we'd like to hear from you at email@example.com or by phone (607) 724-2111 (voice/TTY/ VP) or fax (607) 772-3600. Or visit us at 135 East Frederick St. Binghamton, NY 13904. Our hours are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday. Our programs grow out of your needs and concerns. Together, our journey into imagination can become a reality.
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