Accessibility Task Force

The VOICE-Buffalo Accessibility Task Force formed in 2015 in response to the need for greater access to jobs and services for people with disabilities. Our core value is that we, the people, should have a voice in the services provided to us!

Our Western New York regional Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) needs to be moved to an accessible location in the City of Buffalo on a public transit line!

The OPWDD and its services are currently housed in the West Seneca Developmental Center, a mostly shuttered institutional campus with two active buildings. Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities once lived there experiencing abuse, neglect, and segregation. People should not be required to go to a site of past trauma in order to access services and work.

In order to get there, those of us who rely on public transit have to take two buses and a shuttle that only runs twice a day. If we miss the shuttle, we must walk/roll 3 miles from the nearest bus stop down a two lane highway with inadequate sidewalks. Once we get there, the building itself is not in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, and bringing it up to code would be costly. The regional service center for people with disabilities should be accessible to the people it is supposed to serve.

Self advocacy is important. If people with disabilities were included in developing solutions for the needs of people with disabilities, we would never have had institutions like the West Seneca Developmental Center (or the infamous Willowbrook). It is more important than ever that the voices of self advocates are not left out, now or in the future. Yet, the location of the regional OPWDD is a barrier to our full participation, and that is discriminatory.

Please TAKE ACTION today! Sign our petition to tell Governor Cuomo and Acting OPWDD Commissioner Kerry Delaney to end this discrimination and move our OPWDD regional office to an accessible location in Buffalo.

For more information, or to get involved, please contact our organizer, Brian Zralek, at brian@voicebuffalo.org, or our Task Force Chairwoman, Marie Malinowski, at marie@voicebuffalo.org.