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Disability Culture Heroes

KQED and Kaiser Permanente honors three outstanding individuals who make a difference in the disabled community in 2008.

Charlie Dorris

Charlie Dorris
Chair, Access Advisors, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (the de Young and Legion of Honor Museums)
Co-chair, Grant Committee, San Francisco Chapter of the California Council of the Blind

Charlie Dorris is chair of the Access Advisors of The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), a group of 18 volunteers, most of whom are disabled, who since 1990 have recommended ways to make the museums more accessible for disabled persons. Most recently, they worked with the museum, the city, and other interested groups to improve transportation to the de Young Museum and increase accessible parking there. Their work was recognized in 2006 when the de Young Museum received the Barrier-Free Award from the Paralyzed Veterans of American and in 2008 when the Access Advisors received the Award for Excellence from the San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability.

In addition, for the past ten years, the Access Advisors, in conjunction with the FAMSF, have sponsored an Open House for the disability community. Two years ago it was expanded into the Open House and Disability Arts Festival held at the de Young Museum, and last year's event was attended by more than 400 people with disabilities.

Dorris is also a member of the San Francisco Chapter of the California Council of the Blind and is co-chair of the committee that since 2005 has awarded grants totaling $5,500 to Bay Area blind and visually-impaired students. Students can use the grant for purposes such as buying computers and other adaptive technology or paying college expenses. Money for the grant is raised by the San Francisco Chapter through its various fundraising efforts. The 2008 Alice Chavez Pardini Education Advancement Grant is for $2,500.

Dorris is a part-time developmental book editor who has lived in San Francisco for 24 years.


Craig McCulloh

Craig McCulloh
San Mateo County Aging and Adult Services

Craig McCulloh has worked for San Mateo County Aging and Adult Services since May of 1994, as a Community Program Specialist III. Prior to this, he was a Patients' Rights Advocate for Mental Health clients for over 8 years. Since 1995, he has served as the Staff Liaison for the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities since 1995.

McCulloh has been at the forefront in advancing the rights of seniors and people with disabilities in San Mateo County and at the state level. With his passion for advocacy on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities, McCulloh coordinates legislative and advocacy activities for both the Commission on Disabilities and Commission on Aging. As part of the Area Agency on Aging, he monitors advocacy-related programs funded by the Older Americans Act, including Legal Services, the Ombudsman Program and the Health Insurance Advocacy Program (HICAP). In addition, McCulloh is the "Events Coordinator" for Aging and Adult Services, organizing many community events throughout the County, including the annual People Who Care Awards Dinner. He has developed expertise in the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), transportation, accessible housing and assistive technology. He utilizes his expertise to assure that County programs and services are fully accessible to seniors and people with disabilities.

In addition to his work, he is a Life Member of Little People of America, (LPA) Inc., having served as a past President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. He also served on numerous planning committees to help coordinate LPA National Conferences.


Julie Venuto

Julie Venuto
Inclusion Support Teacher

Julie Venuto began educating children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the East Bay seven years ago. While working on her special education teaching credential and as an instructional assistant, she was asked to take the position as the inclusion teacher for the preschools in the Berkeley public schools. She taught for two years with three to five year olds, and then became the inclusion teacher at LeConte Elementary School in Berkeley, where she teaches today.

Venuto advocates for her students and families in the classroom, in the school district, and in the community. She participated on the Berkeley Unified School District Educational Advisory Board and has been on the district Inclusion Task Force for the past seven years. She is on multiple school committees promoting early intervention for students, and she worked with the district inclusion task force to create the Universal Learning Support Services model of providing interventions to the whole child.

Venuto spends her days co-teaching in general education classes, and also teaches ability awareness lessons throughout the year. Venuto has run various social groups to promote friendship and understanding between students with disabilities and their classmates and coordinates Friday night family gatherings, where families come together to share experiences and resources. Julie received the graduate student award for academic excellence at San Francisco State University in 2005, and she is currently working on her master's degree in special education with the emphasis on supporting individuals with autism in general education classes.

Also on KQED.org this week ...

Sid the Science Kid at California Academy of Sciences
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This summer, KQED is partnering with tons of fun places in the Bay Area offering exciting adventures and special savings when you show your MemberCard.

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