An Accessible and Free Boat Ride

An Accessible and Free Boat Ride

Everyone needs a few hours to enjoy, to be out, to breathe fresh air.  A lot more thought has to go into an outing when Anthonyone is wheel chair bound.  Where can you go? How will you get there? Is it accessible? Can you navigate your wheel chair safely with ease?

Lori and I took Anthony for a boat ride yesterday, the Staten Island Ferry, Staten Island, New York.

00.Staten Island Ferry

It was a lovely cool morning, 62 degrees and sunny.  Anthony was never on a boat.  His eyes were wide with wonder; he was engaged, and at times smiled and shrieked with enjoyment.  It was a good time for all of us.

Although there was municipal parking available, we chose to find a parking spot on the street.  Two hours was all we needed to have a round trip ferry ride from Staten Island to New York City and back.  So we fed the meter and off we went.1.Water View ApproachThe streets were a bit hilly in the area, so a little muscle was needed to push, but Anthony is a light-weight so we managed.  Parking is adjacent to the Ferry entrance, next time we will park there.

The sidewalks were curb-cut for us to cross the street; and the elevator was available for us to enter the ferry terminal.  We tried to enter through to the ferry entrance and found the end sections to be wide enough for his wheel chair. 

Initially Lori was a bit concerned with the crowds, but she pushed Anthony in his wheel chair, and I stood by their side.  We were one of the first on the boat and found the best seat for him.  I was a bit surprised there were no designated areas for the disabled and elderly as there are on city buses.  This would be a good recommendation for us to offer the management of the ferry, NYC Department of Transportation.8.Nice to see Lori smile with Anthony

It was a wonderful outing.  We were able to show Anthony the Verrazano Bridge, the glistening water, the boats passing, and the approaching New York City skyline.  When the captain blew the horn as we initially departed, Anthony closed his eyes and was a bit frightened.  On the return trip, when the horn blew, he was fine.  Our little guy is experiencing life and growing.  It’s a wonderful thing. 

5.So much to discover

    This is an accessible day trip we in New York City can take with our loved ones.


Mobility Awareness – Let’s begin to set some goals

Let us together achieve our initiative by attainable setting goals

Special Needs Lifeline is to help all touched by a disability to connect and create positive change. Our initiative is to create mobility awareness; and more importantly improve accessibility in NYC.


Let us together achieve our initiative by establishing our goals.

Join us and let us know your wishes for mobility improvement.



Enjoying an accessible day in Staten Island, New York

August 4th 2013, Staten Island, New York:  78°F and clear with low humidity.  This is as good as it gets in New York.  A beautiful day to spend a few hours doing something different; something engaging; something to expand the mind of our very special boy, Anthony.

Staten Island Children’s Museum is accessible to all.  So it was a perfect fit. I’ve been there many times before when my daughter Christina was a child, and I remember her enjoying the museum and the grounds.  So off we went.  My plan with his Mom Lori was to spend just an hour or so.  Just enough time to break up the day with a cultural mind-expanding event. 

When we entered the museum I asked the lovely young woman at the front desk if there was a section for the special needs community.  Her reply, “the entire museum is open to all.”  I thought about that, and understood there were no distinguishing areas; just children of all abilities playing together. I like that.  I think it’s up to us as adults to help our children feel comfortable with each other.  The comfort level comes from us first.  Our children feel it.

 We were able to navigate very well throughout the museum and able to get to the different floors with two elevator banks.  It was the first time Anthony was there, so it was a day of looking, watching, and absorbing.  He enjoyed it.  We all did.  Next visit we’ll do more of the interactive activities.  We will be back.

The Staten Island Children’s Museum, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301, Snug Harbor Cultural Center


 The Staten Island Children’s Museum appeals to the intrepid explorer in every child.  Interactive exhibitions and creative workshops offer plenty of opportunities for hands-on, first hand experiences that nurture children’s natural curiosity and creativity. Visits to the museum launch children on a voyage of discovery – about themselves and the world around them.   

View the museum’s full guide here:

Our resource map will give you directions to the museum:

We had a wonderful time.

Camille Gallo

Always feel free to leave your comments to share with the community.


Beauty, Culture, and Accessible

i Nov 14th 1 Comment by

The principle of universal design addresses the attention of the diverse needs of all people.  This will lead to well-designed buildings that seamlessly integrate thoughtful solutions and appropriate materials for those not specifically for but including the special needs community. By designing for a diverse population, universal designers integrate usability by everyone into their work on a routine basis.  This approach leads to greater inclusion for many groups often neglected in the design process, (e.g., children, the elderly, people of small stature, frail people, etc. (Universal Design New York, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities)

I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a couple of dear friends.  It was such a special day.  As an interior design contractor, I found it to be an inspiring and enchanting venue of tremendous beauty.  It is a place for all to enjoy.  The facility is accessible and features exhibits that touch the heart, expand the mind, and enrich the soul.  I highly recommend it.   Let us view this as an example of what is available for all to enjoy.  What programs, for visitors with learning and developmental disabilities, can you think of to bring to your community (big or small) that is fully accessible?

NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art: Armor for Man and Horse

Metropolitan Museum of Art  Discoveries-Power and Protection: A Look at Armor

The Metropolitan Museum of Art invites you to Discoveries, a Sunday program for adults and children with developmental and/or learning disabilities, together with friends and family members.  Each Discoveries workshop focuses on a theme and includes a gallery tour followed by a related art activity in the studio. (Free, but reservations are required)
Camille Gallo

Beautiful, Comfortable, Accessible

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

Living comfortably, what is accessible for all…

Universal design (def) Universal design represents an evolution toward the understanding that we must not view individuals with disabilities as separate and different, but as an inherent part of our extraordinary diversity.  Universal design is an approach to the development of “products and environments that can be used effectively by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” (North Carolina State University, 1997). It is an inclusive process aimed at enabling all of us to experience the full benefits of the products and environments around us regardless of our ages, sizes or abilities.(Universal Design New York,  Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities)

I have been in the design industry for over 25 years.  I’ve seen the frivolousness of high-end style, I’ve worked in warehouse debris, and everything in between in premier properties in NYC .  I’ve lived through hard times and confusing times.  I love my work as an interior design contractor. I always knew somehow, someway, I could help make this world a more beautiful place to live, for all of us to live.  You see I do believe we are one – all of us – capable of all things, in different ways.

What can I contribute, in my way, with my capabilities? I do want to make a difference.  Yet at times I struggle to get sure footed… I have consulted with disability experts, and they have made their recommendations.

Join me in my journey as we identify what is available and identify what we need through “Universal Design.”  

I caught the warmth of the sun today. It was for just a moment, and then it  turned gray.  I looked up and the clouds were a lovely white. Have you noticed warmth of the sun? This is something we can all share; on your own, with each other.  Feel the warmth, see the vastness of the universe; know it does exist.  Let us begin here…



Camille Gallo, IGT Design & Distribution


Disability and the Death Penalty: Special Needs Lifeline Question of the Week

i Jul 15th 2 Comments by

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Scaled punishments, illustrated by the excerpt from the Code of Hammurabi, represent one of the earliest systems of law enforcement we know of. Over 3,700 years ago, in ancient Babylon, these prescriptions of justice were chiseled onto immense stone tablets with the expectation that every citizen could read and understand them. Imagine if our constitution was typed onto the surface of the moon, impossible to disregard.

I mention the Code of Hammurabi for two reasons. First, it is possibly the oldest representation of written language on the planet, implying literacy and civic responsibility went hand in hand. Second, it evokes the basic moral conviction of fairness as a convenient justification for the death penalty.

But the death penalty is anything but basic, or fair. And our laws are not brandished in the sky for all to see. A Supreme Court decision in 2002 (Atkins v. Virginia) confirmed that the execution of a mentally retarded individual was unconstitutional because it violated the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Yet a man with an intellectual disability sits on death row in Georgia. How is this possible?

Warren Hill, 52, was serving a life sentence in 1990 when he killed fellow inmate Joseph Handspike. In 2002, only months after the Supreme Court ruled on the Atkins case, a judge determined that Hill had failed to prove his mental disability beyond a reasonable doubt. According to Georgia state law, the standard establishing culpability by a preponderance of the evidence is insufficient for exemption from execution. In a disturbing twist, Georgia was the first state to prohibit capital punishment for individuals with learning disabilities in 1988, albeit with a substantial burden of proof regarding intellectual capacity. Allegedly, Hill has an IQ of 70, and several of his former teachers testified that he exhibited significant learning difficulties in school. Unless the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles is moved by Hill’s appeal for clemency, his lethal injection will remain scheduled for 7 PM on Wednesday July 18.

The clock is ticking for Mr. Hill. His life, and our national measure of constitutional democracy, delicately hangs in the balance.

How absurdly ironic it is; a man sentenced to die because he could not prove he was disabled enough.

Question of the Week: Without a doubt, the death penalty is one of the most complicated ethical situations we can be confronted with. Does our justice system adequately defend the civil liberties of people with disabilities? Can you think of other instances that reveal a legal double standard applied to people with disabilities?

We encourage you to reply to the question of the week. Please be respectful of the opinions of our fellow community members. There is no right or wrong answer. Reflecting on challenging questions will help keep us informed.


Atkins v. Virginia. 536 U.S. 304. (2002).

Pilkington, E. (2012, July 13). Georgia Set to Execute Mentally Disabled Inmate Despite Court Ruling. The Guardian.

The New York Times Editorial Board. (2012, July 6). An Urgent Plea for Mercy. The New York Times.

New Definition of Autism: Special Needs Lifeline Question of the Week

i Jan 29th 4 Comments by

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students diagnosed with autism, one of thirteen categories of disability, are entitled to special education services. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 110 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder. But if a prospective, and more limited, definition of autism is approved, those numbers could change drastically to 1 in 250 children. If these changes take effect, a sizeable number of students with disabilities could be deprived of their eligibility for services.

This situation is very similar to the original passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) in 1975. Public schools were then required, by law, to provide students with disabilities with equal access to education. Incredibly, diagnoses of learning-related disabilities plummeted. School administrators routinely misrepresented the special education population within their classrooms in order to ease the financial responsibility that corresponds with providing free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. EAHCA was eventually revised and renamed to IDEA in 1990.

A panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association will determine the academic fate of tens of thousands of young students. School administrators must be vigilant to ensure that services continue for the students who are entitled to them. All too often, students with special needs are matched with a category of disability like pegs fitting into a certain sized hole. If we don’t advocate for the rights of children now, we risk losing those children to the labels that continue to define them.

Question of the Week: Do we need to revise the current definition of autism? If so, why; If not, why not? Is it time to revise the definition of any of the categories of disability under IDEA, or even the concept of disability in general?

Here is the link for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention autism data:

For more information, check out this article from Education Week:

We encourage you to reply to the question of the week. Please be respectful of the opinions of our fellow community members. There is no right or wrong answer. Reflecting on challenging questions will help keep us informed.

Parents and the IEP: Special Needs Lifeline Question of the Week

i Jan 22nd 6 Comments by

The process of starting an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for a child with special needs is often very challenging. Parents are faced with tough decisions that will ultimately shape the course of their child’s education. The IEP meeting participants include teachers, principals, service providers (i.e. occupational/physical therapists), and paraprofessionals. Walking into a room filled with experts can be intimidating. Parents are likely to become nervous if they feel unprepared, uninformed, or if they have no idea what to expect. Under these circumstances, Mom or Dad might fail to notice that they are, in fact, the most powerful member of the IEP meeting.

Without a doubt, the parent is the most important contributor to the IEP process. They are entitled to ask questions, review documents, and receive assistance from a translator if necessary. Parents have the right to obtain support outside the school system if they desire a second opinion, and parents can be accompanied to the IEP meeting by anyone they choose. Being organized, and feeling comfortable, is not against the rules (even though sometimes it might appear that way).

Question of the Week: Do you feel like your school has included you as a valuable member of their IEP team, and the school community-at-large? If you have experience with IEP meetings, were they positive or negative? Was there anything you wish you had known that you were not made aware of at the time? Even if you have not attended an IEP meeting, please contribute to the discussion by sharing any stories or details from your own experiences.

We encourage you to reply to the question of the week. Please be respectful of the opinions of our fellow community members. There is no right or wrong answer. Reflecting on challenging questions will help keep us informed.

Special Education Reform: Special Needs Lifeline Question of the Week

i Jan 15th 6 Comments by

Chancellor Dennis Walcott has approved an extensive plan to carry out wide-spread special education reform for the 2012-2013 school year.

Typically, students with special needs are segregated from their peers in general education. Even when exceptional children are assigned to a classroom designated for general education, they are frequently pulled out for a variety of services, including occupational or physical therapies. It is essential that these students continue to receive the services they are entitled to, but receiving those services should not compensate for lengthy departures from the classroom.

Inclusive settings, locations well-suited for providing services without compulsory student removal, are promoted by numerous experts in the field. Students can benefit both academically and socially. However, there are several obstacles that must be surmounted before implementation is a realistic possibility: availability of qualified staff, access to funds, and perhaps most importantly, administrative support and faith in inclusion.

Question of the Week:

Is NYC moving in the right direction by putting this plan into action? If you were Chancellor Walcott, what recommendations would you make to parents, teachers, and school administrators?

For more information, check out this article from

We encourage you to reply to the question of the week. Please be respectful of the opinions of our fellow community members. There is no right or wrong answer. Reflecting on challenging questions will help keep us informed.

From a special needs carnival event volunteer

i Sep 28th 1 Comment by

“We need help here!” Voices were coming from each corner of Willowbrook Park, Staten Island, New York. Volunteers were calling out to each other to help the best they could. The Special Needs Lifeline (SNLC) recreational outreach event had finally arrived. The carnival had many guests and volunteers. The outcome exceeded everyone’s expectation. It was the first time SNLC hosted a recreational event for the special needs children and we received a lot of positive feedback. Our objective was to have fun and create a carnival-like festival for the special needs children and young adults. We all had a good time.

Special Needs Lifeline hosted a recreational outreach event on September 10th, 2011. This gave special needs children, young adults and their families an opportunity to enjoy a day together. Through our community, we heard the need for recreational events to bring the special needs community together. We had many ideas, and began to plan different programs that might interest those with disabilities. With our passion, we started to think “Art, Music, Entertainment and Sport Programs.” It was not an easy task for us. We began to gather information on potential sponsors and vendors. Within a short time-line and with a rigorous deadline, we had weekly meetings, and daily emails, text messages, and conference calls with each other. Through the help of our friends and family members this event was a success. We worked together as a team, and as a unit took a leadership initiative approach. All contributed and helped SNLC plan the event in many ways. YES! We Did It! The outcome was amazing.

If you joined us that day, we really enjoyed sharing the day with you. If you could not make it that day, there will be many more events in the future…We look forward to seeing you then.

If you have any suggestions for future events, leave your comment below, we would love to hear from you.

Pyi Kyaw