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Thursday,  July 18, 2024 •                  • 5
     Recognizing Disability Pride Month in Erie County

                                                                  Ridge Park. As of this summer, all
       uly is recognized nationally as                                                          cess, it is important for all of us to
                                                                  five heritage parks, in addition to
     JDisability Pride Month. Here in                                                           practice inclusion and to treat our
     Erie County, we have a long history                          Tow Path Park in the City of Buf-  neighbors, family and friends with
                                                                  falo, now feature fully accessible
     of supporting accessibility and in-                                                        dignified compassion.
     clusion. The Erie County Office for                          playgrounds. We look forward to  From our children enjoying in-
                                                                  the opening of accessible play-
     People with Disabilities (ECOPD)                                                           clusive playgrounds, to providing
     was added to the county charter in                           grounds at Sprague Brook Park  our adults with an advocate to con-
                                                                  this fall, and at Isle View Park next
     1983, seven years before the Amer-                                                         tribute to policy discussion, I am
     icans with Disabilities Act (ADA)                            summer.                       proud of the county’s investment in
                                                                     By the end of 2024, we will
     was signed into law.                                                                       accessibility and inclusion initia-
       On July 24, in recognition of   Deputy County Executive    have also replaced all picnic tables  tives. To learn more about the
     the 34th anniversary of the ADA,     Lisa Chimera            with universal, wheelchair friendly  ECOPD, and to find a list of up-
     the county along with the City of                            tables at our parks, and have in-  coming events go to
                                                                  stalled mobility device friendly
     Buffalo and community partners                                                   , or by calling
                                                                  features at waterfront areas like
     held a Disability Pride flag raising  ta, ensures that all citizens with                   716-858-6215.
     at Niagara Square in Downtown  disabilities have a direct voice in  Bennett Beach and the Chestnut
     Buffalo. Last year was the first time  county government. The office  Ridge Fishing Pier. Many munici-
     raising this flag, and I was so glad  also provides advocacy and assis-  palities have also installed their
     to see the tradition continue this  tance, which generally falls into  own inclusive playgrounds, trails
     year.                          three categories:             and other recreation features, and I
       On Friday, July 26, a Disability  Referral: The ECOPD links  am so proud of our county’s lead-
     Pride Celebration will be held at  citizens with disabilities to affiliat-  ership in this initiative.
     Pierce Lawn at Canalside. All are  ed agencies.                 Anyone can experience a tem-
     welcome to attend the event with  Representation: The ECOPD  porary, long-term, or permanent
     food and live music. There will be  acts as a liaison to county govern-  disability at any time, and access
     a resource fair, food, children's ac-  ment.                 and inclusion are critical when you
     tivities and live performances. This  ADA/ACCESS Oversight:  have a disability. Persons with
     event is free to the public and open  The executive director of the  physical, mental, intellectual or
                                                                  sensory impairments may experi-
     to all ages. Anyone requiring Para-  ECOPD serves as the ADA com-
     transit can contact the NFTA at  pliance officer.            ence barriers that hinder their full
                                                                  and effective participation in soci-
     716-855-7268.                    In 2022, the county opened the
       ECOPD, under the leadership of  “Playground for All” at Chestnut  ety on an equal basis with others.
     executive director Frank Cammara-                            While the ADA ensures equal ac-

     Social Security announces changes

     to accessing online services

        he Social Security Administra-  option  to  easily  transition  to
     Ttion  recently  announced  that  Once  their  account  is
     customers  who  created  an  online  successfully linked, a confirmation
     account  (e.g.,  my  Social  Security  screen  will  appear,  and  they  will
     account) before Sept. 18, 2021, will  have immediate access to their per-
     soon be required to transition to a  sonal my Social Security services or  account  to  continue  ac-  other service that they were attempt-
     cess  to  their  online  services.  Over  ing to access.
     five million of these account hold-  Existing or ac-
     ers  have  already  transitioned  to  count holders do NOT need to cre-                    ate  a  new  account  or  take  any
       The  agency  is  making  the  action.
     changes to simplify the sign-in ex-  my Social Security accounts are
     perience and align with federal au-  free, secure, and provide personal-
     thentication   standards   while  ized  tools  for  everyone,  whether
     providing safe and secure access to  receiving benefits or not. People can
     online services.              use  their  account  to  request  a  re-
       “my Social Security is a safe and  placement  Social  Security  card,
     secure  way  for  people  to  do  busi-  check  the  status  of  an  application,
     ness with us,” said Social Security  estimate future benefits, or manage
     Commissioner  Martin  O’Malley.  the  benefits  they  already  receive.
     “We’re  excited  to  transition  to  For  more  information  visit  Create to access our online ser-  an  Account  |  my  Social  Security  |
     vices, streamlining the process and  SSA.
     ease  of  use  for  the  public  across  For  more  information  about
     agencies.”          , including their 24/7 cus-
       Account holders are encouraged  tomer phone and chat support, visit
     to sign-in now. When the user logs  Help |
     in,  they  will  be  presented  with  an
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