Dutchess County Puts Accessibility First

Recite Me is delighted to welcome Dutchess County, a suburban community approximately 60 miles north of New York City with a population of nearly 300,000 residents.

The father of a daughter living on the autism spectrum, Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro launched the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative in 2015 to foster a more welcoming and supportive environment for individuals living with special needs.

A large component of Dutchess County’s “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” efforts is accessibility – the county has funded accessible infrastructure, among other projects, for example – and making government easy to access for all residents is a priority for Mr. Molinaro.

“Every resident of every ability deserves a voice in their community and the opportunity to easily interact with the local government that serves them,” Mr. Molinaro said. “In Dutchess County, we’re proud to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about our neighbors of all abilities and take steps to ensure they have access to the services and programs that will help them thrive.”

Dutchess County’s endeavors to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” about individuals with special needs have extended beyond its own geographic borders; dozens of towns, cities, and villages throughout New York State have adopted resolutions to similarly support inclusiveness in their communities.

Additionally, Dutchess County has launched its “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” website, www.thinkdifferently.net, which will offer families of residents with special needs a resource to navigate the comprehensive array of local services available to them. To make its new site even easier for all users, Dutchess County has incorporated Recite Me’s accessibility software; the same software has been used on the County’s website, www.dutchessny.gov, since mid-2017.

“Whether it’s the option of downloading an MP3 of a page on our website, changing the font size and color to make the text easier to read, or having text on the screen read to the user, Recite Me offers visitors to our site numerous enhancements to assure a more accessible experience,” said Richard Byrne, Project Leader for Dutchess County’s Office of Central & Information Services (OCIS), which oversees the county’s information technology infrastructure.

In September 2016, Mr. Molinaro selected Toni-Marie Ciarfella, PhD, as Dutchess County’s Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs, a high-level administrative and managerial position responsible for evaluating, planning, initiating, coordinating, and monitoring the wide range of programs designed to help individuals and families with special needs. Dr. Ciarfella’s position was the first of its kind in New York State.

The addition of Recite Me software on its websites, Dr. Ciarfella said, is the latest example of Dutchess County’s ongoing efforts, under Mr. Molinaro’s leadership, to improve the quality of life for individuals of all abilities.

“When residents or visitors to Dutchess County, regardless of ability, interact with us in person at events, use the telephone to obtain information about a particular service, or now search our websites for information,” Dr. Ciarfella said, “their county government can connect with them in the manner that best and most efficiently meets their needs.”

To find out more about Recite Me, including how to book your free demo, visit www.reciteme.com

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