accessibility

SASHA-ANN SIMONS/WXXI NEWS

Barry Culhane is counting the days until he can finally walk unassisted again.

“I walked into a herniated disc surgery and woke up paralyzed, never expecting that,” says Culhane, who has gained back only some feeling in his legs since then.

Given his positive outlook over the last three years adjusting to life mostly in a wheelchair and decades-long involvement with the Al Sigl Community of Agencies, it comes as no surprise to his peers that Culhane has handled the physical setback so well.

Sasha-Ann Simons/Innovation Trail

 

Jensen Caraballo has spinal muscular atrophy type 2, and he's used a wheelchair since he was a kid. He's also on a fixed income.

MAUREEN MACGREGOR/WXXI NEWS

Outside Michelle Fridley's apartment building, mounds of snow line the perimeter of the parking lot. At least the curb ramp on her sidewalk is clear today, though that’s not always the case.

 "For a week I was having a really hard time being about to leave here. It wasn't even just the snow. It was -- someone parked in my curb cut."

SASHA-ANN SIMONS/WXXI

"There aren’t many accessible homes for people with disabilities. And when they are accessible, they’re usually too expensive or segregated,” says 24-year-old wheelchair user, Jensen Caraballo.

It’s been 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act established a mandate that five percent of all federally-assisted housing developments must be accessible for persons with mobility disabilities.

Reporting in upstate New York from Innovation Trail reporters indicates that many New Yorkers living with disabilities still face challenges accessing services and difficult choices balancing quality of life and affordability.

(Videos after the jump)

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An estimated 15 percent of people around the world live with some form of disability. Upstate universities are tackling the challenges faced by this segment of the population and coming up with innovative technologies to increase access.

A walker for elderly people that also monitors vital signs, and a cane that uses vibrations to allow deaf and blind people to easily navigate their environment: these are just a couple of the access technologies created by researchers in western New York.

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