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YTI's Joe Zesski and Jeffrey Tamburo worked with Sally Heron to improve accessibility for Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes.

Disability Inclusion at Agency Improved

For more than a year, the Northeast ADA Center, located within ILR’s K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, has partnered with Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes to provide information, support, training and best practice suggestions to create a more inclusive environment for its patients. 

The partnership was the result of a Customized Service Agreement (CSA), the goal of which is to assist partner organizations with implementing the ADA in one of three targeted areas – facility access, health care or small employers. 

Northeast ADA associates Jeffrey Tamburo and Joe Zesski met with agency staff, including the center manager, Sally Heron. They discussed the organization’s status, as well as its goals, realities, obstacles and ways to implement the ADA. 

The ADA center worked with the agency to create a disability inclusion statement and a formal patient accommodation policy. In addition, the agency changed its online scheduling system to include a question that asks, with every appointment made, if the patient has accommodation needs. It also developed procedures for improving accessible outreach and communications for events and social media. 

Additionally, training for the center staff was created, delivered and evaluated for effectiveness. The training focused on disability and reproductive health care, disability etiquette and reasonable accommodations for patients with disabilities. The ADA center also reviewed the physical accessibility of one of the five centers.

“We know that, unfortunately, people with disabilities aren’t always treated with the respect they deserve when seeking reproductive health care,” Heron said. “Our goal in the process was to make sure that people with disabilities feel welcome – whether they’re here as a patient, an employee, a volunteer or are attending one of our events. There’s still plenty of learning for us to do, but we are proud of the work we’ve done so far.”

The formal partnership was completed in July, but the collaboration continues as Tamburo, Zesski and Heron presented on the partnership’s success at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic ADA Update Conference in Philadelphia in November.

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