Hundreds call on the state to relocate disabilities office

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Several hundred Western New Yorkers marched through West Seneca Thursday to demand  better access to services for people with intellectual and physical challenges.

They walked, and rode in wheelchairs for the two-and-a-half mile journey to dramatize how far they have to go to get the services they need from the State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) which is beyond the reach of public transportation.

The March and Roll for Accessibility started the trek from the closest NFTA bus stop at the Southgate Plaza, and ended at the OPWDD’S regional office on East and West Road–which is a little more than two-and-a-half miles away.

The VOICE-Buffalo Accessibility Task Force organized the march, and co-chairman Mike Rogers said the Developmental Disabilities Regional Office (DDRO)’s location renders it inaccessible.

“This is supposed to be the organization that focuses on people first. An inaccessible office is not people first.”

The marchers are trying to get the DDRO moved to a more accessible location, such as downtown Buffalo. 

Parent advocate Max Donatelli said even for West Seneca being a second ring suburb, the office’s location is in a remote section of the town, “We love West Seneca, it is part of Western New York, but this is a remote area of West Seneca.”

Officials in Albany seem to be paying attention. A spokeswoman for the OPWDD emailed a statement, saying in part, “OPWDD is committed to increasing shuttle service,” and is working toward operating a satellite office in Buffalo. 

Further, the statement said, these temporary measures should provide relief until the state is able to implement a more permanent solution.

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