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Planning Federation Event Offers Communities Opportunity to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ on June 8th
‘Shifting Your Perspective’ session offers local planning and zoning officials insight into accessibility planning

Published: 5/31/2017

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus
(845) 486-2000

Poughkeepsie… The Dutchess County Planning Federation will host “Shifting Your Perspective: Experience and Plan for Accessibility Challenges,” which will explore the challenges those with special needs face in the built environment and the planning process to overcome those hurdles, on Thursday, June 8th, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event is part of the Dutchess County Planning Federation’s ongoing educational workshop/training courses for volunteers who are involved in the community planning process, including those who serve on planning or zoning boards.

The event will be held at the Hudson Valley Community Center, located at 110 South Grand Avenue in the City of Poughkeepsie; admission is $5 per person, which includes dinner, and registration is available online. The program will consist of two sessions – the first hour focusing on how those with disabilities navigate through their environment each day, the second hour dedicated to learning how to ensure new projects are seamless in their accessibility for people of every ability.

County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro said, “Dutchess County is proud to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about our neighbors living with special needs, and we’ve taken numerous steps to make our community even more accessible to residents of all abilities. Our Department of Planning and Development works tirelessly to ensure projects throughout the county can be accessed by as many individuals as possible, and this event will give our towns, villages and cities insight on how they can do the same.”

Attendees will use wheelchairs, canes, blindfolds, sound suppressors and vision-altering goggles while traversing doors, curbs, sidewalks and crosswalks to experience sensory and ambulatory challenges in a real-world environment.

They will then review elements of a site plan that can pose a challenge, depending on an individual’s abilities. Attendees will learn what to look for on a site plan, from ramps to less obvious challenges, such as a circuitous sidewalk or poorly marked crosswalk.

Presenters will include Patrick Muller, Program Director at Taconic Resources for Independence; Jeanine Byrnes, MHIS Program Director and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services Community Liaison at Taconic Resources for Independence; and Mary Beth Bianconi, partner at Delaware Engineering.

Initiated in 2015, Dutchess County’s “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative looks to foster a more inclusive community for individuals with special needs. Since then, Dutchess County has taken numerous steps to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” about residents with special needs, including funding infrastructure projects that promote accessibility.

In the last year, some 70 towns, villages and cities throughout New York State, including the majority of those in Dutchess County, have adopted “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” resolutions, pledging to make their communities more welcoming and supportive for residents of every ability. The “Shifting Your Perspective” session offers local municipalities new insights about how to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” as new projects are considered in their communities. More information about Dutchess County’s efforts to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY,” as well as how other municipalities can become more inclusive, is available at

According to the Social Security Administration, one in five Americans – 56 million people – live with disabilities. While some people face these challenges from birth, many will eventually age into them with the onset of certain conditions, such as cataracts, hearing loss, and reductions in mobility that accompany aging. Additionally, some may experience disability temporarily, such as after knee replacement surgery or when recovering from an injury.

The Dutchess County Planning Federation supports the efforts of local volunteers involved in the community planning process throughout the County.