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Growing Older: Disability or Inability?

It's something we all face--growing older. For many of us old age will mean diminished eyesight, hearing, memory and mobility. The U.S. is aging fast. There are more people over 65 now than ever before, and the segment of population 85 and older is growing the fastest. A Georgia Tech study a few years ago found that the percentages of people with disabilities increases significantly with age: 14% by age 40, 30% at age 60, and 46% at age 70. Maintaining independence is a tricky part of growing older. Independence is important to people, but it's not always easy with diminished abilities. And as Todd Moe reports, it's not always easy to talk about, either.  Go to full article

At 44, Still Seeking Her Dream Job

Women with Turner's Syndrome--the disease affects only women--have a damaged X chromosome. Symptoms include infertility, depression and health problems, such as brittle bones and heart ailments. Rebecca Shaney lives in Watertown. She wasn't diagnosed with Turner's until she was 28. When she was 29, she got her master's degree in French. Rebecca is, in her own words, obsessed with French. She's always wanted to be a French teacher. She has taught after school and tutored and been a sub, but she's never landed a full time teaching job. Meanwhile she's cleaned offices, washed dishes, and cashiered. She's currently on disability for a broken hip. She lives well under the poverty line. Rebecca had another job interview this month; we gave her a tape recorder the week before. She brings us this audio diary.


UPDATE: We're proud to update this story. After 16 years of off and on searching, Rebecca Shaney found her first full-time French teaching position this summer. She'll be teaching at the Montessori School in Utica. She got the news in July, and immediately went down to training.

Rebecca will be making a second audio diary for us this September.  Go to full article
Craig Young
Craig Young

Getting a Job: A Success Story

Up to 70% of disabled Americans of working age are unemployed. Two-thirds of those unemployed say they want to work. But barriers to employment include accessibility of worksites, under-education, and public misperceptions about how capable people with disabilities are. And employers don't have time to devote to extra training some people may need. Craig Young is a success story...he's 20 years old, and store manager at the Family Dollar in Gouverneur. He says he couldn't have imagined holding the job a year ago. Greg Warner has his story.  Go to full article
The vigil for Cindy Sheehan in Potsdam.
The vigil for Cindy Sheehan in Potsdam.

North Country Vigils Call for End to War in Iraq

Hundreds of North Country residents gathered at village parks and post offices last night for candlelight vigils. They stood in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a slain soldier who's protesting outside Bush's ranch in Texas.  Go to full article
John and Aggie Pelletieri, his BOCES "1 on 1" aide
John and Aggie Pelletieri, his BOCES "1 on 1" aide

Disability Matters: For Disabled Students, Public School a Challenge and Salvation

Public schools are playing a bigger role in the lives of people with disabilities. Federal law requires that schools provide children and young adults with a free and appropriate education until the age of 21. Sometimes that means a therapist helping a student for an hour each week with a speech problem. In rare cases, kids need full-time, one-on-one assistance, or even a residential program. In New York state, roughly a quarter of the average school district's budget now goes to helping students with special needs. With education budgets strained and local property taxes a subject of controversy, spending for disability programs is often controversial. But as Brian Mann reports, new resources and better teaching strategies are helping young people achieve goals that once would have been inconceivable.  Go to full article

Free, Appropriate Public Education: Getting There Isn't Easy

Public schools are the crossroads where the community at large and people with disabilities meet. The ideal? Kids learn from each other about their differences and similarities; all reach their potential. Parents dreams are fulfilled. And the school budget passes with barely a ripple in the tax rate. But it isn't that easy. Martha Foley talks with Andrew Pulrang, of the North Country Center for Independent Living in Plattsburgh.  Go to full article

Plattsburgh Airport Marketed as Montreal's U.S. Airport

Officials broke ground yesterday on a new passenger terminal on the site of the old Plattsburgh Airforce Base. Locals hope the ten million dollar Federally-funded project will help to create a new transportation hub in the region. The military base closed ten years ago, costing Plattsburgh hundreds of jobs. As Chris Knight, supporters say the new airport will benefit the city and could offer new options to travelers in the Champlain Valley and the northern Adirondacks.  Go to full article

Audio Diary: Learning to Live Without Sight

Elizabeth Folwell is an editor of Adirondack Life magazine. She lost her sight unexpectedly... She'll be sharing her audio diary over the next year.  Go to full article
Wil Hansen in his Ford Contour.
Wil Hansen in his Ford Contour.

Disability Matters: Freedom and Independence in a Hand-Controlled Car

Wil Hansen got his driver's license on the third try when he was in his mid-20s. He has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. It mostly affects his legs. He drives with his hands. He and his dad installed a $450 hand control system in his Ford Contour in just a couple of hours. Wil took David Sommerstein for a demo to the gas station and the bank.  Go to full article
George Howard
George Howard

Disability Matters: Everyday Challenges in Getting Around

How many times have you heard this: "If you don't have a car, you can't get around in the North Country." Buses are few and far between. Taxis are scarce and expensive. Most towns are not designed with the pedestrian in mind. It can takes hours, or even a whole day, to run an errand or make an appointment that in a car would take minutes. And limited transportation options restrict job opportunities. For people with disabilities, and especially people who use wheelchairs, these problems are magnified. Accessible vans and ambulettes are plentiful for Medicaid funded trips to the doctor or case manager. But there are few - if any - options for the errands and visits and excursions of everyday life. People with disabilities are too often restricted to their homes, isolated from and invisible to their communities. As part of our series Disability Matters, David Sommerstein reports on one man's efforts to get around on his own.  Go to full article

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