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!
In order to access the services we need, people with disabilities in Buffalo must travel to the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office in West Seneca. This location is a three mile walk from the nearest public transit stop, along streets with no sidewalks, making it practically inaccessible to the people who need it most. And for many of us who live in the city or the northtowns, even getting to that bus stop requires a trip over an hour long with multiple bus changes, thanks to inadequate public transit in the NFTA system.
The Accessibility Task Force conducts regular meetings with the Commissioner of the New York Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to address this inadequacy. Our efforts have so far resulted in two particular victories: firstly, there is now a shuttle service running between the service center and the nearest bus stop, and secondly, the OPWDD is in the process of selecting and building out a satellite space in the city of Buffalo that will offer limited access to DDSO services without forcing folks to travel all the way to the main West Seneca service center.
Despite these partial victories, the Accessibility Task Force is unsatisfied with the progress to date. We look forward to a March, 2018 press conference to make our voices heard and demand full access to the vital services we need. Our strategy includes continuing to expand our task force to be as representative as possible of the diverse people and agencies in Buffalo, and developing a relationship with the Governor’s office. With these steps, the Accessibility Task Force is building leaders and momentum to ensure that we all have access to necessary services and that those services are sufficient to meet our needs.
To get involved in our campaign, please contact our organizer, Brian Zralek, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or our Task Force Chairwoman, Marie Malinowski, at email@example.com.