Guest Column: Disabled citizens not getting services

Guest Column: Disabled citizens not getting services

By Lorraine Paluzzi

I am writing on behalf of the visually impaired in Rockford who depend on van service to get them to social and recreational events for the Sight and Hearing Impaired Center (cost $6 round trip).

The Center will be building a new, smaller facility on I-90 at the cost of $2.5 million to $3 million. When this facility is completed, the people will have to arrange their own transportation through Paratransit. Steven Sligar, a vice president at the Center, said they will help clients who live outside the Paratransit service area to develop a list of people who can give rides. If this is so, why haven’t they been getting rides for their clients in the past? Isn’t that part of their job? Wouldn’t he have been saving the Center money? The clients who use the van service need special attention that Paratransit cannot give.

What are the criteria for getting money to help people who need special service to smaller buildings? Less service? If the clients cannot get to the new building, why build it? Most people in the Rockford area don’t even know there is a center here for the sight and hearing impaired. According to the article in the Rockford Register Star, they service 700 clients a year in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin with optometry and audiology screening, computer training and other support services. I would like to see the numbers broken down and verified.

Service Given, Clients—Age & Name, Dates Attended,

Optometry, Audiology, Computer, New Vision Class (how many weeks of class?), Social, Recreational, Van Transportation, and Misc. Transportation.

At the present time, there are two or three people who come to Rockford from Wisconsin to attend social and recreational events. They take a bus from Wisconsin to Rockford. If the bus is late, will Paratransit wait? When they are dropped off at the station, will Paratransit make sure they have not missed their bus back to Wisconsin?

The Center already lost the workshop, swimming pool, bowling, Bingo, chorus, band, craft classes and potluck. Now without van service, they will lose the ski trip, concerts, hayride, eating out and fellowship. Without giving service, what do we need a new building for? If we can’t take care of the people in our area, why are we trying to get people from Wisconsin?

The Center was not set up to be a school. We pay taxes for that (Jacksonville, Chicago, Milwaukee, Janesville).

Please help get the Center back in line, helping the newly blind adjust to their blindness and giving a service so they can have a support group and recreation.

Lorraine Paluzzi is a local resident with an interest in issues of the handicapped.

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