Latchis adds
accessibility upgrades during renovation BRATTLEBORO -- In the ongoing celebration of the newly renovated Latchis Theatre, the Latchis is highlighting accessibility improvements made to serve people with disabilities.

"The Latchis and Latchis Arts are committed to doing the best we can with our historic structure" said Managing Director Gail Nunziata. "The recent campaign gave us the opportunity to make advances."

Specific wheelchair accessible seating locations with companion seats are now available in clearly marked locations around the hall. One location is permanent, and seven offer flexible wheelchair accessible seating, all with companion seats. While "flexible" means that either theatre seats or wheelchairs may inhabit a space, in most cases the everyday set-up will accommodate wheelchairs.

One fan of the Latchis' accessibility improvements is Ben Underhill of Brattleboro.

"I appreciate the availability of wheelchair and companion seating, as well as accessible facilities. I always felt welcome at the Latchis, but these make it less of a chore to go to the movies or attend an event."

Additionally, transfer arms are installed on eight aisle seats at various locations throughout the theatre. Transfer arms are aisle armrests that lift up to create easier access for people with mobility concerns. They are found by looking for seats that lack the Latchis' historic aisle seat ends. An ADA insignia is displayed instead.

The Ballroom Theatre, Fountain Theatre, and Latchis 4 also have wheelchair accessible spaces. The Ballroom is accessible by elevator, although staff assistance is required to access this theatre. Please ask at the ticket booth or concession stand.

All four Latchis theatres have been outfitted with assistive listening devices for use by movie goers at no charge. This equipment is available by request at the concession stand. The Main Theatre employs Radio Frequency Transmitters and a Loop system, extending full coverage around the room and in the balcony. Three belt-clip transmitters and headsets are available. Patrons may bring their own headphones. Ear buds can also be used with this system. Patrons are welcome to bring their own, or purchase at the concession stand for $1. The Loop system is for use with hearing aids. A transmitter is worn around the neck and the movie's sound is enhanced through a person's own hearing aids. Two loops are available. The Radio Frequency Transmitter and Loop systems can accommodate a total of three patrons in the Main Theatre at one time.

The Ballroom Theatre, Fountain Theatre, and Latchis 4 all employ an infrared system. There are a total of five specialized headsets available for use with the infrared system.

In addition, the Latchis is able to offer movies with closed captioning. Advance notice is necessary. Please leave a message at 802-254-6300, ext. 158 to arrange a special screening.

Visually impaired guests can take advantage of the descriptive video system, which provides narrated information about key visual actions, settings and scene changes. This system is available by prior arrangement, by leaving a message at 802-254-6300, ext. 158. Assistive listening devices and descriptive systems cannot run simultaneously, so coordination is required.

Restrooms off the main lobby each include an accessible stall and sink.

A wheelchair for patron use is available on site.

World Learning names senior leadership team

BRATTLEBORO -- Donald Steinberg, president and CEO of World Learning, recently announced a new organizational structure and named various members of his senior leadership team for 2014.

Steinberg named a new chief financial officer, Kevin Comerford, as well as Carol Jenkins as executive vice president for global development. He also elevated the position of John Lucas to executive vice president for academic affairs, in addition to provost of the School for International Training.

"World Learning must continue to be an inclusive institution drawing on the talents and expertise of diverse leaders," said Steinberg. "These individuals -- along with the continuing contributions of Lisa Gurwitch, Lisa Rae, Ross Gibson and Bethaney LaClair -- combine the best traditions of World Learning and the values that have sustained the integrity of World Learning with new, cutting edge skills to ensure our financial stability, integration and technological growth. This new structure brings distributed authority to the institution and ensures good decision making."

World Learning's mission is to empower a new generation of global citizens to build peace, prosperity, inclusion and responsive government. It includes the highly regarded academic accredited institution, SIT, based in Brattleboro, including SIT Graduate Institute, SIT Study Abroad, and the International Honors Program; The Experiment in International Living; the Washington, D.C., and internationally based development programs; and activities in 60 countries around the world. Its work includes exchanges, study abroad, capacity building, leadership training, disabilities work, masters' programs and skill-building practical training in areas such as human rights, climate change, women's empowerment, ethnicity, conflict resolution and civil society engagement.

Steinberg has outlined 2014 priorities as continued commitment to inclusive development, cutting edge technologies, robust academic and development programs, new partnerships with government, civil society and the private sector, and ensuring the resources to improve the lives of more young people, citizens and leaders in the decades to come.

Local law firm adds Social Security disability practice

BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro law firm Corum Mabie Cook Prodan Angell & Secrest, PLC has expanded its services to include the practice of Social Security disability law, in consultation with John E. Pyatak, who has concentrated in this field for 30 years.

Pyatak has represented Social Security disability clients since 1983, and his clients will now be represented by Corum Mabie Cook Prodan Angell & Secrest, PLC. Pyatak, who plans to retire, will be "Of Counsel" for the first half of 2014, lending his knowledge as the firm takes on new Social Security disability cases.

"Our firm represents persons injured in vehicle collisions, in work-related accidents, and accidents and injuries due to the negligence of others," said senior partner, Jesse Corum IV. "We see it as a natural outgrowth of this focus to assist those who seek Social Security Disability benefits. We have made many referrals of these types of cases to Attorney Pyatak over the years so we are pleased to have him as ‘Of Counsel' where we can work together on these important cases and benefit from John's vast experience and knowledge."

"I am pleased that they will be picking up my cases," Pyatak said. "They have a superior record of representing clients and are highly respected in the region."

Pyatak says applicants for Social Security disability benefits often need legal help.

"There are people who are unable to work due to physical and mental conditions," he said. "Many of them contributed to Social Security disability through past earnings. There is also a federal benefit program for children with disabilities and adults whose disabilities have never allowed them to earn a living. But the Social Security Administration currently denies eighty percent of all initial applications."

Pyatak is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Connecticut School of Law. He has been a member of the Vermont Bar since 1981. He spent several years as an assigned counsel contractor for the Public Defender's office in Brattleboro, defending clients facing criminal charges. He has served as an Acting Judge in Brattleboro District Court. His law office provided services in many areas of law including personal injury and real estate.

Pyatak is a former chair of the Newfane Zoning Board. For years he coached youth baseball teams, including the varsity squad at Leland and Gray Union High School. He lives in South Newfane with his wife Susan Keese, and has two children and three grandchildren.