Access Granted: IDEA at Chautauqua

  • Judith Starr uses an assisted listening device during a lecture from the Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, on Aug. 14 in the Hall of Philosophy.
  • Jill Nelson reads captions and writes notes while Krish O’Mara Vignarajah speaks Thursday in the Hall of Philosophy.
  • Larry Rizzolo dances with his wife, Carol, during the Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses’ performance Aug. 11 in the Amp.
  • Roger Chard reads the morning worship program in Braille on July 25 in the Amphitheater.
  • Roger Chard reads the morning worship program in Braille on July 25 in the Amphitheater.
  • MaryLou Goodman and Rita Auerbach walk side by side on Aug. 13 near the Athenaeum Hotel.

Jess Kszos
Staff photographer

Chautauqua can be intimidating for someone like me, a disabled photojournalist coming here for the first time to intern at the Daily. I knew I was going to have to walk great distances every day for nine weeks, camera equipment and all, and I didn’t know how I was going to do it alone.

I set out to find people who needed access to parts of Chautauqua that would not be accessible without the different aids the Institution offers. I met people who used motorized scooters, hearing devices, captions, and Braille.

I met Larry Rizzolo, who I found dancing with his wife, Carol, during the Louis Prima Jr. concert. He was having trouble with his hip and his scooter helped him get around.

I met Rita Auerbach and MaryLou Goodman, who like to walk together around Chautauqua. Rita told me she doesn’t like to be isolated and it’s good to be with people.

I met Roger Chard, a person who is blind with access to Braille when he visits, enjoying Chautauqua with his wife, Maurita Holland. Roger utilized binders of Braille for worship services and the 52-page transcription of the opera Sweeney Todd this season.

I met Jill Nelson, who uses captions via during lectures to read and write notes.

All of the people I met could not access Chautauqua the way they did without help from the Institution through the Braille, hearing aids, captions and mobile aids. People like Rita and myself would not be able to “walk” with our friends or colleagues.

I took on this project because accessibility matters to me, I want to be included, and I want to be in a world where I can do my job with a little bit of help. I found that at Chautauqua.


The author Jess Kszos

Jess Kszos is an undergraduate photojournalism student at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is interested in photographing the stories of the community around her. Two years ago she started at Cobb’s Hill Park in Rochester, New York, to photograph people she did not know, and now she is a freelancer best known among the basketball community in Rochester. Her father, Joe Kszos, was born and raised in Chautauqua County, while her mother, Lynn Kszos, studied Chautauqua Lake while completing her Master’s Degree at SUNY Fredonia, and Jess is excited to be closer to her roots at Chautauqua.