Commission on Disabilities unveils a survey to raise awareness and focus efforts

SO Commission on DisabilitiesBy KRYSTAL GOETHE

The Commission on Disabilities (COD) is an organization that focuses on individuals with disabilities in the area. Their mission is to make sure that people with disabilities and their caregivers feel welcome and are able to work and function.

Recently, the commission came out with a survey. According to Karen Leary the vice chair of the commission, the purpose of the survey is to get a sense of what town members know about disabilities. The survey includes questions like, “What disabilities impact your life the most?”; “Does the town of Southington meet the needs of its residents, workers and visitors with disabilities?” and “What services are needed to improve quality of life for Southington residents with disabilities?”

Southington offers a lot of accommodations for people with disabilities. There are services for the elderly and activities for children through the recreational department, but one of the biggest challenges has been a lack of public transportation.

“Southington is one of the only towns in Connecticut that has no public transportation,” said COD chair George Pohorilak. “We are fighting for public transportation right now. There are people that are willing to hire those with disabilities, but if they can’t get to work it doesn’t make a difference.”

Leary said that the aim is to assist people with disabilities so that they might live normal lives. “It is possible with the support of family, education, community, service providers and physical therapy,” she said. “They can absolutely thrive with the help of wheelchairs, stair guides and ramps. Even people without disabilities need support. With support they can do anything.”

The commission provides presentations for the town, one of which was about emergency preparations. Many adult care givers attended. The purpose behind the presentation was to make sure that healthcare providers are “prepared for the storm” and that people with disabilities have the right medication.

Being a physical therapist, Leary said it’s hard to pick just one disability that impacts people’s lives the most. “If you are the parent of a child with a disability you are responsible for both the educational and physical,” Leary said. “It impacts almost every aspect of your life.”

Phorilak said that despite having a limited budget, the commission is trying to make sure that everyone in town has knowledge about disabilities. The survey should help them target the right groups in order to make the most of their $8,000 annual budget.

“We are trying to just touch base,” he said. “The survey is an inexpensive way to get peoples opinion. A lot of thought was put into what questions to ask.”

Recently, the commission supports many different people such as people with disabilities at the local high school. They donated keyboards to the high school for people with poor vision. They donated to the Arc program and offered a presentation about disabilities in the workforce.”

Pohorilak urges residents to respond to the survey. To obtain more information about disabilities or the commission, the COD meets 10 times each year at the Chamber of Commerce office.

Meetings are scheduled for the second Tuesday of every month, from February to Decemeber. Everyone is welcome to attend.

To participate in the survey, visit or at their Facebook page at

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