Welcome to another issue of DDPC Connects. In this edition we are going to look at some online resources the DDPC and partnered organizations have developed, and share their impact on individuals with disabilities. We will also be sharing a special Valentine's feature article. Lastly, we will be introducing you to our wonderful Caucus Chair, Lisa Severino.
Inclusive Recreation Resource Center (IRRC)
The IRRC at SUNY Cortland has created a database including almost 1,000 recreation and leisure sites assessed for usability, a state-of-the-art website, online and face-to-face training of certified assessors and an app for handheld devices.
IRRC Director, Dr. Lynn Anderson Explains:
"Since 2007, the IRRC has been helping ALL people play wherever they choose. Through our online training's - Inclusion U and the Inclusion Ambassador Training program - we have helped thousands of people learn best practices about inclusion in recreation. Our online recreation database has accurate and specific information about the usability of recreation amenities for people with disabilities and their families and friends to plan their recreation adventures in the state of New York and beyond."
In 2014, the DDPC provided funding to the IRRC to conduct accessibility assessments at recreation sites operated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). Over this time the IRRC assessed a total of 408 sites.
If you're interested in more information or want to plan your next inclusive recreation activity, head over the IRRC website!
Navigating Multiple Systems Initiative
The DDPC funded the Council on Children and Families (CCF) to develop, pilot, and publicize a web-based application to assist individuals in navigating the complex service delivery system of New York State. In 2016, the Multiple Systems Navigator website launched.
"In the past, families had to navigate a complicated web to find out what aid and services were available to them. Now, instead of families going to many agencies, the Multiple Systems Navigator addresses the confusion and frustration families have long experienced in not knowing where to go or who to ask for help. Their input was invaluable in developing a site that is helpful to them and makes everyday living easier."
- Deborah Benson, Executive Director, Council on Children and Families
The website provides disability related information and resources for youth, parents, family members and caregivers. The website also provides a series of tools, such as a mapping tool, which helps you find programs and services located near you.
Check out the Multiple Systems Navigator website for information and resources about accessing New York State's multiple systems and services.
Lisa and George
Lisa and George: Partners in Life and Policymaking
This Valentine's Day we'd like to introduce you to our Council member, Lisa Meyer Fertal, and her husband George.
Lisa and George first met at a family advocacy meeting in the early 90s, where they heard about the DDPC sponsored NYS Partners in Policymaking, an opportunity to learn about the system and become stronger advocates.
Lisa's first impression of George was that he was a loving father and very involved with his career and his family. But although they were both parent advocates, she thought they were very different.
Lisa recalled, "George had a shark skin suit and slicked back hair and I was wearing clogs, a corduroy skirt and didn’t own a hair dryer."
But over the course of the Partners program, Lisa told us, they got the chance to know each other better.
"Partners gave us the opportunity to learn together and in doing so we talked, argued perspective and agreed on fundamentals. Partners is where I learned of the passion George had for individuals living with disabilities, his compassion for those with differences and core belief in equality and inclusion for all. We closely aligned on how we could influence policy for the betterment of our children and thousands of others with disabilities in New York State."
Although they thought they were more different than alike, over time Lisa told us, "we realized the window dressing doesn’t always indicate the substance inside."
Lisa learned a lot at Partners. "It taught me the art of advocacy including the fact that you do it even when your nervous or afraid."
After 22 years Lisa and George are still learning together and supporting one another, in their personal lives and in their advocacy.
"We continue to be strong advocates and feel fortunate that we were afforded the Partners program. He remains my favorite Partner and love of my life."
If you want to become a Partner in Policymaking, you can sign up today. The next semester begins in March.
Meet the Members
Lisa Severino, DDPC Caucus Chair
"I really like people taking what I say into consideration. I like knowing I have a voice, and when I talk, that people hear me. On the Council, we are representing everyone. This means it's a group effort and you need to be willing to speak up!"
Lisa was appointed as a Council Member in 2012, and she has since been a leading voice for self-advocates during DDPC project development. Her leadership was exemplified in 2016 when she was elected Chair of the DDPC Caucus. In this position she continues to encourage self-advocates and family members to speak up and participate.
Lisa is no stranger to being a leading voice in advocacy. She has attended and supported numerous advocacy efforts in New York State throughout her lifetime. She has even had the opportunity to present, educate, and teach classes on self-advocacy at both Queensborough College and the College of Staten Island.
Lisa also works for the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS). At SANYS, she has the opportunity to teach other self-advocates to speak up for themselves and provides constant encouragement for self-advocates to fight for their rights.
Lisa began working for SANYS as an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer. She was then hired full time as a Grassroots Presenter, but recently been promoted to Grassroots Field Assistant. Her new position allows her to coordinate and support the Grassroots Presenters, SANYS Board members, and self-advocates.