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Advocates Hope New Governor will Bring Disability Awareness

By Joyce Kryszak


Buffalo, NY – Apart from the scandal, the ascension of David Paterson to the Governor's post is making history of a different kind. He becomes the state's first African American chief executive. But he will also be the first legally blind governor. Some advocates are looking to the high profile office to raise disability awareness.

On Monday, Paterson will take the state's highest oath of office. But he will need a little guidance placing his hand on the bible to swear his pledge. Since Paterson became Lieutenant Governor, the public has grown accustomed to watching him guided to podiums and through crowds.

Advocates say they are glad the public will be seeing more of that.

Douglas Usiak, is the head of the Western New York Independent Living Project. Usiak, who is totally blind himself, said Paterson's new post is a tremendous opportunity to bring the issue of disabilities into clearer focus.

Usiak says Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the way proving the capabilities of public officials with disabilities. And Usiak said modern technology makes that success even more possible today.

Usiak expects that Paterson will have - and need - access to the latest devices, given the high volume of communication the governor's office handles.

Usiak said he hopes that awareness will dribble down to the community. He said that could make the public more willing to support making everything fully accessible for everybody.

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