Published August 12, 2022
Maura Kutnyak is passionate about Buffalo, about being a parent, and about becoming a lawyer. She is currently in her last year of law school at UB and wants to pursue a career that strives toward making Buffalo a more equitable place for all who live here.
“It is very important to me that the work I do is instrumental in improving the quality of lives of people in my community and promoting equity here. I feel strongly about issues of social justice and civil rights,” Kutnyak says.
As a blind student, Kutnyak is also passionate about students of all abilities being able to access the resources and information they need to succeed.
“In 1977 my dad, who is also blind, wasn’t able to finish law school because there just weren’t the same kinds of accessibility tools as there are now. The Americans with Disabilities Act was not in place, and he did not have the support he needed,” Kutnyak explains.
She says she’s been interested in becoming a lawyer since she was a little girl, and when she discovered that her father had to drop out of law school because study materials weren’t available to him, she became even more determined.
“A major reason that my dad was not able to finish was the lack of access to information,” Kutnyak says. “The vast majority of the casebooks and other materials were printed, so in order to gain access, he had to hire readers or obtain reel-to-reel cassettes, or he had to find Braille casebooks, so accessing information was extremely cumbersome and just really difficult to keep up with the workload. My heart wants to make that right.”
She says Accessibility Resources at UB has been welcoming and supportive.
“I have been really happy with the way my needs have been met and with the way my presence has been received here at UB,” she says. “It’s clear to me that there is an effort towards inclusion and there are also some affirmative measures being taken to really embrace diversity here. The university has been very communicative and willing to work with me whenever needed. And the faculty at UB law school has been exceptionally thoughtful and inclusive,” Kutnyak adds.
As part of her ongoing commitment to making things more equitable for students, Kutnyak is working with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to increase awareness of its subscription-based service, NFB-NEWSLINE, among UB students.
“My goal here is to connect with and find ways to relate to younger people who are used to potentially getting their news through social media platforms because NFB-NEWSLINE provides access to hundreds of reliable news sources for free,” she says. “The clutter-free, digital interface is perfectly tailored for NFB-NEWSLINE’S target audience: individuals with a print disability.”
In addition to access to state, national and international newspapers and magazines, NFB-NEWSLINE also provides blind and print-disabled subscribers with emergency weather alerts, seven-day localized forecasts, retail ads and access to more than 100,000 job listings — all high-value services for ambitious students with alternative learning needs.
“I feel tremendous gratitude and pride to be thriving as a law student at UB. Realizing the cross-generational legal dreams, first imagined by my father, is deeply meaningful,” Kutnyak says. “Where he struggled to gain access to information, I have a wealth of digital resources at my fingertips. The accessibility resources that UB provides, and those like the ones that NFB-NEWSLINE provides, have been, and will be, central to my success as a lawyer.”
For more information about NFB-NEWSLINE, contact Kutnyak.
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