Communities Including & Empowering Citizens with Disabilities

Formerly "Town Hall Training"

From David Whalen's Disability Awareness Training (DAT) comes Disability Education & Awareness for Municipalities (DEAM), which is designed to create awareness at the municipal level for both elected officials and constituents to address municipal response (including emergency response) to those with disabilities in the municipality. DAT has identified DEAM as one of the main initiatives to ensuring total inclusion. Through Mr. Whalen's role on the Town of Amherst (NY) Committee on Disabilities, he has seen the lack of awareness and subsequent poor response to the needs of citizens. The base of this is accessibility, hiring practices, department specific understanding (i.e. police, emergency services) and program options (i.e. recreation, parks), and employee education. This does not mean that employees and elected officials do not care and are not willing to learn, but it is a reflection of today's society and their lack of knowledge to what is NOT being done to bring equity to the disabled community. This is often times discriminatory (unknowingly) and, quite possibly, a violation of federal law. Recent Department of Justice audits in WNY have cited the city of Niagara Falls and Chautauqua County for non-compliance. We do not want to have to bait municipalities into responding appropriately but if it takes the threat of DOJ citations, we will help the Town to be proactive so as to avoid any greater issues.

DAT has developed a one day training course that provides all necessary information to carry out this initiative within the municipality. All resources and materials are included. The First Responders Disability Awareness Training office at Niagara University will be available for ongoing technical support and to answer all questions of concern the municipality may have, all in the best interests of their residents with disabilities. We are helping to ensure a community where each belongs and is accepted as a person. TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.


Out of about 300 graduates, we received 245 evaluations. The following topics were evaluated:

  • Content - 97% rated either Excellent or Good
  • Usefulness - 93% rated either Excellent or Good
  • Presenter Knowledge - 100% rated either Excellent or Good
  • Presenter Clarity - 98% rated either Excellent or Good
  • Visuals - 90% rated either Excellent or Good
  • Information Clarity - 96% rated either Excellent or Good
  • Length - 83% rated either Excellent or Good
  • Overall - 98% rated either Excellent or Good

218 out of the 245 evaluations said they would recommend this training (26 missing responses and 1 "no").


"Thank you for an interesting, informative and engaging training on Tuesday. It was great to not only learn more and refresh some points about the topic, but also to meet and network with the other participants. I enjoyed the day."

- DEAM participant, Town of Amherst (NY) Community Development

"Dave’s vast experience is a credit to Niagara University. His real-world knowledge is extremely helpful in clarifying complex issues."

- Town of Lewiston (NY) disability advocate

"Dave is the biggest asset to this training. His personal approach really helps get the message across. The training truly opens eyes of municipal employees to infomration on disabilities and ADA they do not know about. It challenges participants in a positive way to do more for access."

- Town Hall Training participant, Syracuse NY

"I just wanted to send you a short note of appreciation for the information and education you provided at the Town Hall Training Session. I passed on the information to our Mayor and said he will forward that to our ADA Coordinator. I learned a lot from the session and it actually gave me a new view on the concepts for ADA accessibility and common sense applications."

- Karl Lux, Village of Springville Superintendent of Public Works

"I highly recommend this training. I have been to two of Dave's training sessions. He is a tremendous resource regarding all aspects of ADA."

- Christine Martinelli, City of Rochester ADA Compliance Officer

"Thank you so very much for bringing your information packed and RELEVANT training to Penfield. I have already started discussions with our supervisor, fellow board members, and staff about creating a committee and embarking on additional initiatives highlighted by your training. Stay tuned...I know I will be in touch. All the best to you and your family. Keep in touch!"

- Town Council Member, Penfield (NY)

"The THT I attended was a powerful and effective session that was extremely helpful to elected officials, providers and advocates alike in learning more about how to best assist persons with disabilities overcome barriers and navigate the political process. I recommend the training for elected officials, providers and persons with Disabilities."

- George Hoehmann, Rockland ILC Executive Director, Clarkstown (NY) Councilman