Connection
March 2017  

Kuppe helps CMoG 
enhance visitor experience
Staci Kuppe, an AIM consumer who is deaf, recently gave a presentation to staff and docents at the Corning Museum of Glass on enhancing the museum experience for people with disabilities.
 
Staci Kuppe, a longtime AIM consumer, recently led an effort at the Corning Museum of Glass to enhance the museum experience for visitors with disabilities.

Kuppe, who is deaf, spent about three months researching ways the museum could make the displays in its galleries more accessible, and how the docents who serve as volunteer tour guides could better accommodate people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The project was capped by Kuppe's presentation in late February to CMoG's staff and docents.

An Elmira resident, Kuppe recently graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City with a degree in Art History and Museum Professions. She also volunteered at the city's Whitney Museum of American Art, giving tours for people who are deaf. Traveling - particularly to visit art museums - is her passion.

AIM's Supported Employment Program, funded by New York State ACCESS-VR, arranged a work experience for Kuppe at CMoG after she moved back to the area from the city, where she had struggled to find a job.

The Supported Employment Program attempts to find local work experiences that fit consumers' interests and background, said Erin Morseman, AIM's director of independent living.

Recognizing the unique perspective she could provide, CMoG asked Kuppe to look at ways to improve the museum experience for people with disabilities.

Her suggestions during her presentation included CMoG offering monthly tours for different segments of the disability community.

Kuppe's presentation also included other speakers who focused on improving the museum experience for people with autism and those with limited mobility.

"What I hope the staff will take from my presentation is that there's always room to improve, even if everything is perfect in terms of accessibility, and to broaden their horizons in terms of opportunities and to extend the diversity for the museum," Kuppe said. "They could also look to other museums for ideas and to get ideas from the disability community, as well. There's always things that are never thought of unless someone experiences it."

Making sure best practices are being implemented under the Americans with Disabilities Act is an ongoing process at CMoG, said Jessica Trump, supervisor for volunteer and internship programs. CMoG had 460,000 visitors from around the world last year.

"Staci is a great example of someone who's very intelligent but who might not always be given a chance to communicate her ideas," Trump said. "As the presentation showed, the end product was great and the work she did was very helpful."
AIM staff attend Albany rally
AIM's Erin Morseman, Jessica Farin, John Zick, Ileya Heins and Jessica Harshberger attended a rally at the state Capitol for more funding for independent living centers and home care workers.
 
Staff from AIM recently traveled to Albany to attend a rally at the New York State Capitol, pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for more funding for independent living centers and home care workers in the state budget, among other priorities.

About 250 disability-rights advocates protested outside the governor's offices at the Capitol on March 7, including representatives from nearly 20 independent living centers across the state.  The AIM group included John Zick, Erin Morseman, Jessica Harshberger, Ileya Heins, Jessica Farin and Derrick Ek.

The protesters were calling for an overall $5 million boost in funding for independent living centers statewide in the budget.  Funding has been largely stagnant over the past decade.

They also want higher Medicaid reimbursements for organizations such as AIM that employ home care workers who help people with disabilities live independently. That would allow the organizations to pay the home care workers a fair wage.

Other proposals backed by advocates included funding for programs that would make homes more accessible; tax credits to help small businesses hire people with disabilities; re-establishing the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities in state government; and requiring ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft to offer some wheelchair-accessible vehicles as they expand in New York.

The protesters unfurled banners that read "Real lives, real jobs" and "Accessible homes now," and chanted slogans such as "Our homes, not nursing homes!" and "No access, no Uber!"

Cuomo's staff spoke with leaders of the rally about their concerns, but the protest continued. Eventually, 25 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for blocking Cuomo's offices.

Organizers remain hopeful their funding priorities will be added to the final state budget agreement, due April 1.
Win a million bucks in AIM golf tourney
A golfer tees it up in last year's AIM Golf Tournament. This year's tournament is set for May 7 at Elmira Country Club, and will include a Million Dollar Hole-in-One Contest. 

Registration has opened for AIM's third annual golf tournament, and someone could win a million bucks.

The captain-and-crew tournament is set for 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 7 at Elmira Country Club. New this year is a Million Dollar Hole-In-One Contest. Any player who makes a hole-in-one during the tournament will win $2,500, and one player will be randomly selected to take a shot to win $1 million.

There will be cash prizes for the winners, raffle prizes and door prizes. There will also be skins, closest-to-the-pin and long-drive contests.

The entry fee is $320 per team, which includes 18 holes with a cart, lunch and dinner at the country club. Proceeds support AIM's programs and services.

Registration is open online or by downloading a registration form and mailing it to AIM. Incentives are available for businesses interested in sponsoring the event.  The deadline to sign up is April 14.

For more details, contact John Zick at jzick@aimcil.com or (607) 962-8225, ext. 116. 
Q&A's to be held on OPWDD services
Staff from AIM will participate in a series of question-and-answer sessions this spring for parents and caregivers of people with developmental disabilities.

The series will be presented by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, AIM and Parent to Parent of New York State. 

There will be information provided on self-directed services, family support services, parent support, the Front Door process and transition programs.

The sessions are scheduled for 1-2 p.m. or 5:30-6:30 p.m. March 29 at the Schuyler County Human Services Complex in Montour Falls; 1-2 p.m. or 5:30-6:30 p.m. April 26 at the Steele Memorial Library in Elmira; and 1-2 p.m. or 4:30-5:30 p.m. May 31 at the Southeast Steuben County Library in Corning.

Drops-ins are welcome. For more details or to schedule an appointment time, call (607) 535-2802 or (607) 734-6135, ext. 35.
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