Rochester has a lot to offer for those living with a disability. Winter weather aside, there are many aspects of this region that helped me get the most out of life’s adventures, including raising a daughter as a single parent. Our regional spinal cord injury and rehabilitation center offers immediate access to help during a crisis and the inevitable follow-ups. Local universities focus on cutting edge research and provide student-based therapy to those who have limited insurance coverage. Competent specialists offer assistance and education for primary care physicians regarding spinal cord disabilities.
My work with Rochester Accessible Adventures allows me to participate in and develop adaptive sports clinics so that our disabled community and their families can participate together in outrigger canoeing, fencing, biking, sled hockey, rugby, water skiing, sailing, golf and more.
Skinny on the City
Located in upstate New York, Rochester is surrounded by accessible lakes, scenic wine trails, historic architecture and beautiful parklands. Regardless of the season, there is a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities to fill your schedule. Families enjoy rich cultural experiences at nationally known museums, art galleries and the world-renowned Eastman Theater. Weekends are loaded with festivals showcasing the best of film, food, music and crafts.
Places to Go
Spring, summer and fall offer the best opportunities to enjoy Rochester’s rich cultural and scenic atmosphere. Music connoisseurs revel in the week-long International Jazz Festival. Fall is prime time for a Finger Lakes wine tour dotted with dozens of craft breweries and wineries tucked into rolling hills flush with spectacular fall foliage. For more physically active folks, beautiful, historic trails follow the Erie Canal, allowing wheelers the same access that everyone else has.
Accessible indoor adventures include the nationally known Strong Museum of Play, the Rochester Museum and Science Center and the Memorial Art Gallery. Entertainment seekers will enjoy the Rochester Broadway Theater League, GEVA Theater or one of the many world-class acts that frequent the beautifully decorated Eastman Theater.
Transitioning from the hospital to the community can be frustrating and scary. Slowly over the last few years there has been an increase in numbers of accessible housing units. Fortunately, Rochester does have a good supply of affordable houses and a number of contractors with experience in home modifications. Many nonprofit organizations work directly with social workers in our health care system to secure living arrangements that are a good fit.
There are great options in Rochester for those able to afford their own vehicle. As with any city, finding accessible parking is a challenge, depending on the place and time of day. Other transportation options include Regional Transit Service — our local municipal bus company offers four types of paratransit eligibility — and multiple wheelchair van companies provide accessible taxi services. All public-based options operate with geographic constraints that can be frustrating for time sensitive schedules. Some will accept Medicaid payment with prior approval.
An exciting development in Rochester will be the University of Rochester Neurorestoration Institute, which will be directed by Dr. Bradford C. Berk, who stepped down as CEO of the UR Medical Center to devote himself to the URNI. With an incomplete C3-C5 SCI, Dr. Berk’s knowledge, passion, and determination will create a destination facility. The URNI will offer comprehensive clinical services and research trials; focus research on pain, stem cells, complementary and integrative health; and provide devices for restoration of sensory and motor deficits.
Must See, Must Do
Food lovers can delight in their choice of elegant restaurants, but don’t forget fun, “lip smacking” options like the Dinosaur BBQ, Sticky Lips BBQ (featured on “Man vs. Food”) and for those brave enough, a “garbage plate” from Nick Tahous.
Also, sports fans have accessible options for every season. Adaptive sports are available for all ages via the WNY Wreckers quad rugby, Rochester Wheels adult basketball and the Rochester Rookies youth activities.
Click here to learn more about the Rochester Chapter.