Tag Archives | lack of accessible taxis in New York City

Nissan NV2000 Voted in as NYC’s “Taxi of Tomorrow”

taxi of tomorrowWell, it’s official. New York City’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” is the Nissan NV-2000 taxi.

Not that we didn’t know it was going to be. If you’ve been following this story (or listening to me crab about this for the past year or so), you’ll know that the decision was made quite some time ago. But on September 20th the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission officially voted in the Nissan vehicle as the “Taxi of Tomorrow”.

It’s a baffling move. One of the other three competitors in the “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition, the Karsan V1, is fully accessible and ADA-approved. Heck, the fully accessible MV-1, manufactured by Vehicle Production group, while not a competitor for “Taxi of Tomorrow”, has been on the road in New York for months. Both are side-entry, which is safer for passengers in wheelchairs, and have ample room for other passengers when transporting a passenger in a wheelchair.

Contrast with the NV-2000:

  • A conversion van. It needs to be chopped up and reassembled, at considerable extra cost, to be made wheelchair accessible.
  • Rear-entry
  • Has room for only one other person in the passenger area when transporting a passenger in a wheelchair.

Need more convincing? The NV-2000:

  • Wasn’t tested on New York streets before being declared the “Taxi of Tomorrow”
  • Is assembled in Mexico, taking jobs out of the US
  • Has poorer gas mileage than the 6000 hybrid cabs currently operating in NYC that it will replace, as it runs on a combustion engine

What is Michael Bloomberg thinking?

People Who Use Wheelchairs Not a Factor in “Taxi of Tomorrow” Decision

Obviously he’s not thinking about the people in his city with disabilities. He’s made that very clear, by his steadfast refusal to make more than 2% of New York’s cabs accessible until he was required to by the ruling of Supreme Court Justice George Daniels, and by his assistance on appealing that ruling.  His ignorance about the realities of living with a disability, reflected in statements such as “It’s always somebody who says, ‘oh, no, everything has to be handicapped accessible or wheelchair accessible,’ but that’s not necessarily when the people who are in wheelchairs need” is astounding.  It’s difficult to imagine why he thinks that people who use wheelchairs would be satisfied with using the ailing Access-a-Ride program, with its long wait times and frequent no-shows, to plan their travel needs, as opposed to being able to hail a cab on the street like people who can walk. Mayor Bloomberg is conveniently ignoring the fact that the cab fleet in London, England, has been totally accessible for over 20 years.

It’s also difficult to imagine why a mayor who claimed, just in his radio broadcast from this past weekend, that job creation is a priority for his administration, would fail to consider that he could potentially get more people who use wheelchairs into jobs if he gave them access to reliable transportation. I wonder if he’s considered the other benefits for the city that come from giving people who use wheelchairs more transportation options: more community involvement and more opportunities to contribute to the city’s economy, from both residents and visitors.

Not to mention, if he’d gone with the V1 as “Taxi of Tomorrow”, Karsan was willing to manufacture it in Brooklyn. Not out of the country.

But I’ve said all this before.

I think that the bottom line is that Michael Bloomberg knows very little about the lives of people with disabilities and doesn’t really care to learn. He’s dismissed that part of his voter base and the people that compose it – their needs, their dreams of being treated as equal to their non-disabled peers, their very civil rights – since the beginning of all this.

But then, Nissan did create a new shade of yellow especially for the “Taxi of Tomorrow”. Maybe I just need to get my priorities straight.

More on this story:  http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-09-20/news/33982803_1_nissan-cab-cab-driver-new-taxi

 

 

 

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Thoughts on Mitt Romney’s RNC speech

Must blog about Mitt Romney’s RNC speech…must blog about Mitt Romney’s RNC speech.Mitt Romney's RNC speech

I’ve been trying to do this since Friday morning.  Damn Mitt Romney’s RNC speech…it’s given me a nice case of writer’s block.

I know you’re probably all sick to death of hearing about Mitt Romney’s RNC speech, but indulge me a bit. Regular readers will know that I’m an American politics junkie, despite my Canadian citizenship, and I’ve been very restrained about writing about Election 2012 for quite some time.

I watched most of the evening coverage of the Republican National Convention, last week, despite some moments during the speeches that felt like they were causing me physical pain. Mitt Romney’s RNC speech actually had only a few fleeting seconds where I felt that way, which surprised me. Actually, Thursday night was relatively pain-free. I admit that I was getting a little bored by the time Clint Eastwood showed up, so I wandered off to make a snack and missed the full effect of Invisible Obama…and I started channel-surfing halfway through Marco Rubio’s speech…but I listened to everything in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech.

Halfway through Mitt Romney’s speech, I tweeted, “But what are you going to do for people with disabilities, #MittRomney?”

Nothing About People With Disabilities in Mitt Romney’s RNC Speech

Not that it surprised me mightily to hear nothing about people with disabilities in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech. I don’t expect to hear anything about us in Obama’s speech next week at the Democratic National Convention. Canadian politicians don’t talk about us either.

But I feel like there should be some concerted thinking going into how to win the vote of people with disabilities and the people who love them/work with them/are concerned about the issues affecting them. After all, US Census data shows that approximately 20% of Americans have a disability. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html That’s a lot of voters, Mitt Romney, especially when you consider that the families of these people and people that work with people with disabilities will be evaluating your position on disability issues as well.

As Powerful as the US Gov’t Is, It Still Has *Some* Power

Discussing Mitt’s plan to bring the USA back to prosperity with a friend, I pointed out that I’ve heard nothing, in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech (or in anything else he’s said) about what he’s going to do about the fact that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is nearly twice what it is for people without disabilities. He said that he that there wasn’t much that the government could do about that.

I take issue with that. You can’t legislate what people think and feel, no. But you can certainly legislate that they can’t discriminate or cause harm on the basis of it, and there’s precedent for the federal government stepping in on cases where this is happening:

  • Declaring that groups have protection against discrimination in the workplace, hate speech, and hate crimes.
  • Recently, sending the Department of Justice to investigate whether New York City’s extremely low number of accessible taxis was in violation of the ADA.
  • Even more recently, starting the process to phase out sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.

Just something to think about.

Matters of Employment

In Mitt Romney’s RNC speech (in all his speeches, in fact) is, he’s talking about getting people back to work and cutting entitlements. If he wants to get people with disabilities working and off income supports, he’s going to have to acknowledge that employers are going to have to be willing to accommodate needs. When I worked in special education classrooms, the schools had to work around the fact that I couldn’t assist with lifts and transfers when working with students in wheelchairs. Sometimes this was a struggle to coordinate, but I was good at my job in all other areas, so schools didn’t mind moving things around for me a bit – but they did need to be willing to work with me, or the job wouldn’t have worked. Employers will need to keep in mind that they need to approach hiring people with disabilities in this manner – they can get very good, very qualified people, but may need to bend on things like permitting extra breaks or allowing an employee to work from home once a week, allowing a nurse to come into the office for half an hour once a day to assist an employee with health needs, or doing a staff education session on how to respond when someone is having a seizure.

Some people are going to need supports if they’re going to work. Look at Anthony in my previous entry. He’s started his own business (and I’ve heard from Mike that they’re swamped with requests!), but he needs some support to keep things going. And speaking from my experience, most of the people with intellectual disabilities with whom I’ve worked need either some agency or one-on-one support to get and keep a job. If Romney’s goal is getting them employed and off income support, he has to be willing to spend some money on supports somewhere else.

And some people have disabilities that simply don’t allow them to work. Unless the US government is prepared to have them starve/freeze to death, there has to be money for them to keep themselves alive. They didn’t ask to not be able to support themselves, and charity/churches/community simply can’t handle all the needs of these individuals (in addition to those of all the other individuals in communities who are living in poverty). Besides, not everyone has a family or community to support them, and faith won’t keep you warm and fed.

There was a promise in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech that he would “help you and your family”. I just don’t know if, for families that have people with disabilities in them, that would be the case if Mitt Romney were elected. But this is all conjecture. Since there was no talk about people with disabilities in Mitt Romney’s RNC speech (or any of his other speeches) how’s anyone to know what his position is?

We’ll see how Obama fares this week at the Democratic National Convention.

 

 

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Happy Belated Birthday to the Americans with Disabilities Act!

I couldn’t get to the blog yesterday to write about this when the official americans with disabilities actcelebrations were going on. However, I also didn’t feel that I could let it go by unnoted here that yesterday that Americans with Disabilities Act turned 22.  And I’m a little hard on the United States in this blog sometimes – let’s give it some credit where it’s due. The fact that the US has had  such comprehensive  and constantly evolving federal legislation in place to protect the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities is a totally awesome for twenty years is awesome. Go America!

Learning about the Americans with Disabilities Act

I didn’t know much about the Americans with Disabilities Actuntil I started writing this blog. For someone who’s involved with disability activism, I still know appalling little about its history. I took a bit of time this morning to go over that history, with the help of this site out of Georgetown Law School:  http://www.law.georgetown.edu/archiveada/#ADAAA. Admittedly, it looks like it’s only been maintained until approximately mid-2009, but I got a good picture from it and some places to go for further research.

The Americans With Disabilities Act: The Important Themes Haven’t Changed

I was struck by this sentence on Georgetown’s website: In 1990, after several rounds of negotiations and hearings, Congress enacted the ADA and, in doing so, marked a significant advancement for the civil rights of people with disabilities.

Civil rights. In my reading and writing about disabilities lately, this phrase keeps coming up again and again. And it’s starting to become a divisive one, in that some of the things that people with disabilities are asking for because they consider it a civil rights issue are slamming up against what the people who can provide those things consider civil rights issues. Some of the ones that I’ve covered in this blog are:

  • The right for people in wheelchairs to access a taxi in the same manner that people without wheelchairs do.
  • The right for women with intellectual disabilities to make decisions about their bodies (the Ashley Treatment)
  • The right for people with physical disabilities who use wheelchairs to have full access to public and hotel pools. (I haven’t talked about this in the blog yet, but look for it soon. I just wrote an article about it, and it’s a very hotly debated accessibility issue right now.)

I’ve always liked to consider myself a fairly intelligent person who can look at an argument from both sides. But, even as a person who’d worked with people with intellectual disabilities for a while before my stoke, I didn’t understand how frustrating it was to navigate society as someone in a wheelchair until I was forced to do it.

I wouldn’t have connected a New Yorker in a wheelchair’s experience of missing a movie with friends because the cab he called through the Access-A-Cab service never came, knowing that his friends got there in plenty of time because they hailed a cab from the street in front of the restaurant they met at, as something that would have been totally unacceptable if it had happened to someone in any other minority group in the city.

I wouldn’t have thought about how it would have felt for a child that used a wheelchair not to be able to use a city pool in the summer, until the Americans with Disabilities Act started to mandate that cities find ways to give people with disabilities access to their pools.

I think that sometimes people rail against making these changes to make society accessible because they’ve never had to think about how they’d feel if they or a loved one were in the situation where a lack of accessibility and their civil rights were being violated being violated.

Which is why legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act is so important.

Happy Birthday to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Lack of Accessible Taxis in New York City is Okay, According to Appeals Court and Bloomberg

There are only 231 accessible taxis in New York City. The appeals court ruled on Thursday that,  accessible taxis in New York City in a city where there are over 13 000 taxis, this is okay, as long as a person with who wants to drive a cab isn’t discriminated against on the basis on disability. The appeals court ruling overturns an earlier ruling by Judge George Daniels saying that the low number of accessible taxis in New York City violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/nyc-taxis-dont-have-to-accomodate-disable-appeals-court_n_1637026.html

Michael Bloomberg Says There’s No Need For More Accessible Taxis in New York City, So It Must Be True

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pleased with the appeals court ruling. In a quote in the Huffington post, he demonstrates the lack of insight into the needs of New York City citizens and visitors in wheelchairs that’s become sadly characteristic of him since this story broke last year: “”This ruling is consistent with common sense and the practical needs of both the taxi industry and the disabled, and we will continue our efforts to assist disabled riders,”

Here’s the comment that I left on the Huffington Post story last night (with the punctuation errors corrected; it was late):

“If Bloomberg is content with knowing with knowing that by limiting access to convenient, reliable transportation for people with physical disabilities in his city, he also limits their access to employment and volunteer opportunities, as well as opportunities to put their money back into the city’s economy, I guess there’s no talking him out of it. Lord knows people have tried.

I hope he’s also considered that tourists to New York with disabilities are also affected by how difficult it is to get a cab. If I were planning a leisure trip to an American city and I was still using a wheelchair, or with someone in a wheelchair, this news would definitely make me consider going elsewhere.

What else are the people of New York with physical disabilities to take from this except that their mayor doesn’t care about their transportation needs or value the contribution that they make to city life? Congrats on spitting in your constituents’ faces, Mr. Bloomberg.”

More information on the new ruling on accessible taxis in New York City:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304058404577495052575426594.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Other posts that I’ve made about accessible taxis in New York City:

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/attn-editor-of-the-new-york-post-re-americans-with-disabilities-act-editoral/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible-taxis-in-new-york-city/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible-taxis/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/michael-bloomberg-accessible-cabs/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible_cabs/

 

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Musings About “Inspiration Porn”…

This week, I was introduced to a interesting concept by tumblr bloggers thoughts_of_nothing and and gimpunk some other tumblr bloggers with disabilities about which I’ve never heard: “inspiration porn”. It all focused around this picture, which I’m sure many readers have come across if they’ve spent any time on Facebook or Pinterest:

inspiration porn

Heck, it was on one of Running Steps’ Pinterest boards when I went to check. I’ve since removed it.  It had just never occurred to me that I should find it insulting – but I should have.  I’m going to be evaluating what I put up on the Pinterest boards much more closely from now on, to see if the pins fall into that “inspiration porn” category.

“Inspiration Porn”: Is the Label Fair? The Case Against

It’s not that Scott Hamilton (and Oscar Pistorius, the athlete in the picture) hasn’t accomplished amazing things. And the value of that particular piece of photography for people with disabilities is that it encourages those who may have the resources to take life by the horns, as Hamilton did, but are letting “I can’t, because I have a disability” hold them back to get back out there and start saying, “I can,” again.

“Inspiration Porn” Is the Label Fair? The Case For

Not everyone with disabilities has the resources and supports that Scott Hamilton had/has to get out there and make their dreams a reality. And for those that are in that boat – sometimes a positive attitude just isn’t enough. A positive attitude isn’t stopping the British government from people whose disabilities are far too severe to allow them to work from having their benefits cut off, forcing them to look for jobs that they have no hope of getting when they are in such ill health. Closer to home (for me), cuts to the Ontario Disability Support Program make accessing its Income support component significantly and increasingly difficult for new applicants each year, and cuts to both the Income Support and Employment Support programs make it more and more difficult for people who are on the program to move off of it.

All of this as the unemployment rate for people with disabilities in the United States edges toward almost twice the rate for people without disabilities, and as New York City continues to put up stink about making even more than 1% of its taxis accessible.

Given these realities, slogans like, “The only disability is a bad attitude” are almost an affront. “Inspiration porn” only makes people with disabilities who are often trying very hard to cope with issues like chronic physical/mental/emotional pain, constant hospitalizations, fears about where the money to pay for housing/food/medical bills/their family’s needs is coming from (whether it’s because of unemployment or underemployment or income support cuts) feel badly because they can’t muster the support, strength, or enthusiasm to get out there and start living their dreams as people with disabilities.

So, is the “inspiration porn” label fair? Unfair? Somewhere in-between? I think I may need to think about it a bit more. It’s certainly an attention-getter, and it’s probably going to make my blog show up in more porn-related searches than usual, but I think I’ll let you decide from here.

Before I Get Attacked

I don’t think any of that means that Scott Hamilton should stop doing what he does. It’s not his fault that people are struggling. And, like I said, I think his message has a place. Not just for people with disabilities, but for everyone. Regardless of your life circumstances, a bad attitude will get *anyone* stuck like nothing else can.

But I do understand why some people with disabilities take have adopted the phrase “inspiration porn” for these kinds of images, and why it hits them particularly hard.

I need to think about this, and write some more about it. Have a great weekend, everyone.

thoughts_of_nothing’s blog about “inspiration porn”: http://thoughts-of-nothing.tumblr.com/post/22192050450/blogging-against-disablism-day

 

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Attn: Editor of the New York Post, re: Americans with Disabilities Act editoral

On April 21, the New York Post published an editorial on the Americans with Disabilities Act editorial that, well, really surprised me.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/handicapping_america_ILRF4YpiggwHJYjGx4OghL

First, A StoryAmericans with Disabilities Act

The first Christmas after my mother died, when I was 20 years old, my father, my sister and a family friend went to New York for Christmas to avoid being around the family home and the memories. We were determined to make it a good trip. We were there from the 26th to Jan 1st. We stayed in a nice hotel and ate nice food. We did all the touristy things. We saw shows. We took *plenty* of cabs.

All of this was pre-stroke, so I didn’t have trouble getting in and out of cabs. But if we’d had to make this trip with me even in my folding wheelchair, I wonder if the trip would have been as good as it was. Given what I know now about taxis in New York, I’d bet it would have been a lot more stressful – perhaps stressful enough to make us consider going to another city.  And it would have been a shame for New York’s economy if we’d decided to go somewhere else that week.

The New York Post on the Americans with Disabilities Act: “…the misery the law inflicts on everyone else seems far more than that of those it helps.”

Seriously?

Let me be sure I understand this, Editor. The Americans with Disabilities Act is making non-disabled people in New York City miserable because:

  • Unscrupulous lawyers are encouraging people to file frivolous lawsuits based on the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • The cost of making facilities accessible (like pools and subway stations) is straining the city’s budgets.
  • Requiring more accessible taxi cabs or a plan to increase access to existing cabs for people with disabilities is unacceptable Americans with Disabilities Act overreach.
Editor, is your beef not more with lawyers and contractors than  with the Americans with Disabilities Act and those trying to enforce it?
And you need to hear another story.

Hypothetical, But It Could Happen

Imagine you, Editor, as a resident of New York, used a motorized wheelchair. Imagine you got a call that your child, at a friend’s birthday party, had been hit by a car chasing a ball into the street and was in critical condition at a hospital across town.

The dial-a-cab service that provides accessible cabs can get you a cab in an hour. But by the time you’ve mapped a route through the accessible stations, it’s going to take over an hour for you to get there anyway. Your child might not be alive by then.

Is this fair? Or just?

Universal Design Isn’t Disabling

Editor, a physically accessible city is one that allows people with disabilities to work, volunteer, access needed services and spend money (and we know that cities love that!)

It’s one that allows people who have temporary disabilities (from casts and crutches to arthritis flare-ups) to get around more easily.

Heck, it allows parents with strollers to get around *much* more easily.

Please remember, Editor, how easily you could acquire a disability. No one likes to think about that, but it’s true. What would you be saying about this then?

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Judge Upholds Order on Accessible Taxis in New York City

Meanwhile, from the “Accessible Taxis in New York City” file…

Despite a motion by New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), Judge George Daniels’ freeze on the Commission granting medallions to non-accessible taxis remains in effect.

http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2012/01_-_January/US_judge_to_Albany__NYC_taxis_must_comply_with_ADA/

New York seems determined to go down fighting on this one. Seeing as their relatively small number of accessible taxis (and the plan Bloomberg had previously proposed to meet taxi access needs for city residents that use wheelchairs) was found to violate the Americans with Disabilitiesaccessible taxis in New York City Act, one wonders why the TLC thinks that New York City should be above the law.

I was not aware that they had filed a motion to stay Judge Daniels’ order on accessible taxis in New York city.  It does seem in keeping with the arrogance, not to mention the disregard for the transportation needs of both citizens of and visitors who use wheelchairs, with which Bloomberg and his crew have handled the lawsuit over accessible taxis in New York City.

See the category called “Accessible Taxis in New York City” for previous blog posts on this story.

On a Brighter Note…

The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), which also faced a lawsuit in July 2011over lack of accessible taxis, is currently moving much faster with its plan to create a totally accessible fleet than New York is. The city had no accessible taxis in July, and now has three, with plans for 300 by the end of the year. By 2016, Philadelphia will have 1600 taxis on its streets.

http://articles.philly.com/2012-01-22/news/30652935_1_accessible-taxis-wheelchair-accessible-cabs-medallions

Mayor Bloomberg, meet me at Camera Three…

(Which, for those of you who don’t watch “The Daily Show”, is what host Jon Stewart says when he wants to say something to just one person.)

I don’t live in New York City, so maybe I shouldn’t I be talking for New Yorkers that use wheelchairs. But I did have to use a wheelchair for over a year, and I struggled with the accessibility issues that came with it…and I’ve watched my own small town try to become more accessible for people with disabilities. I know that it doesn’t happen overnight. I know that there’s planning involved, and budgeting, and that sometimes it has to happen in bits and pieces, so that sometimes the ultimate goal *is* several years away.

I think that most people with disabilities understand this.  If you took a poll of your voters who use wheelchairs, I think they’d probably tell you that they’re not expecting you to make oodles of accessible taxis in New York city a reality overnight. They’re reasonable people.

But I think they do want to see some movement on the plan to increase the number of accessible taxis in New York city, because this is about more than transportation. It’s about knowing that their mayor values at least their vote enough to take their concerns seriously, and about knowing that their presence in New York and the contribution that they can make to their communities in valued regardless of disability.

Because if you don’t feel strongly about giving people with disabilities an easy way to participate in New York life – that sends a message that you don’t really want them involved in New York life. And that’s a terrible message to have to live with from someone that claims to be representing your best interest.

London has done this. Philadelphia is doing it. You can do it. New Yorkers know it won’t be overnight. But for God’s sake – get started.

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Federal judge rules that NYC needs more accessible taxis

Michael Bloomberg’s concerns that accessible taxis are uncomfortable, potentially unsafe, tooaccessible taxi expensive to have on the road, and not really what people with disabilities want will have to be shelved. Federal judge George Daniels has ruled that only having 230 accessible taxis in the fleet of 13 000 yellow taxis in New York City is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Taxi and Limousine Commission can only issue new medallions to accessible taxis until it provides a plan for improving access for people who use wheelchairs.

http://www.unitedspinal.org/2011/12/27/judge-rules-nyc-taxis-violate-americans-with-disabilties-act/

Why Accessible Taxis?

From the linked article: “As wheelchair users, it is often assumed that we want to stay home, or that we’re satisfied with the status quo. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are just like any other American. We want to live, work, play and worship in our communities. These things, which are so often taken for granted, are impossible without on-demand, low-cost transportation, like taxis. We’re proud to be on the leading edge of this issue and look forward to the opportunities that come with it for people with disabilities.” – Paul J. Tobin, President and CEO of United Spinal

News That Makes My Day

I’ve been following developments in this story since I started this blog. I’ve been really disgusted by the dismissive way in which Michael Bloomberg has responded to concerns about lack of accessible taxis, and at his rationale for not considering adding more accessible taxis to New York City’s fleet. He’s demonstrated, it seems to me, a real ignorance of the transportation challenges that citizens in New York (and tourists) who use wheelchairs face on a daily basis, and a disrespect in general toward people with disabilities.

As I’ve said elsewhere in this blog…London’s full fleet of taxis is accessible. There’s no reason why New York City can’t do it.

I’m looking forward to seeing more accessible taxis on my next visit to New York City

More posts on this issue:

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible_cabs/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/michael-bloomberg-accessible-cabs/

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons With Disabilities

international day of persons with disabilities

December 3  is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It’s a day to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities and to raise awareness about their rights.

I knew that I wanted to blog about this in some way today, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it last night, and kept coming back to what Michael Bloomberg saying that having making all the cabs in New York accessible wasn’t necessarily what people with disabilities wanted.

What Do People With Disabilities Want?

I’m not a scholar in the field, but I’ve worked with people with disabilities for over fifteen years, and I’ve been living with my own disabilities for over a decade. I think that our needs are fairly simple.

  1. Access to Buildings When we’re cut off from buildings and from areas in buildings, we’re cut off from experiences and from participating fully in the community. We don’t have choices and opportunities that everyone else has.
  2. Access to Resources The current struggles to make web pages more accessible, to make menus easier to read, to make the justice system more navigable, etcetera, seem like overkill to some people without disabilities. But when you can’t see a computer webpage because you’re red-green colour-blind, or you can’t read a menu because the print is too small, or you can’t don’t understand what your public defender is saying to you because you’ve got an intellectual disability, you’re at a distinct disadvantage because of your disability.
  3. Respect for Rights and and Knowledge of Responsibilities  People with disabilities need to live in communities where, like everyone else, they have rights and responsibilities. People with disabilities, adults and children, are at a much greater risk for bullying or assault, sometimes by people are supposed to be taking care of them (paid and unpaid). Abuse can come in all forms (verbal, sexual, financial, violation of privacy, theft). Other rights that get disrespected are as follows: the right for a person to make their own decisions about their life, to be in relationships, to try new things, and to make health and/or money decisions. People with disabilities deserve to have rights abuse allegations take seriously, and need to understand that they have the responsibility to behave in ways that respect others’ rights. Failure to do so will result in consequences for them, just as it would for people without disabilities.
  4. Opportunities to be a Part of the Community  Everyone has ways that they can contribute. Community members need to be open to having all sorts of people as volunteers and employees in the community and makes everyone feel welcome at community events.
  5. People-Centred Supports for Assistance When Necessary  Not everyone needs help all the time, but sometimes something comes up with which people need assistance. It’s always nice to know that someone will be there if you need, whether it’s a paid or non-paid support.
  6. Income Support for Those that Can’t Work That Actually Reflects the Current Cost of Living  The amount that individuals receive on the Ontario Disability Support Program  leaves them at a poverty level.

The Challenges

Right now, setting up frameworks within communities where we can ensure that these five things are adequately addressed costs is taking a lot more time than it should. I believe it’s at least partly because educating governments about the importance of getting funding to help address these issues is taking a long time. It’s simply not high-priority.

And I think that’s partly because you can’t appreciate how vital these issues are until you’ve lived them.  I know from experience that it’s difficult to realize how frustrating it is not to be able to get into a favourite restaurant in a wheelchair until you’re in that position.

I didn’t know until a couple of days ago that International Day of Persons with Disabilities existed, and I hope it will bring some much-needed awareness to what still needs to be done.

On the lighter side, here are some people with disabilities whose accomplishments we really need to celebrate on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

  1. Rick Hansen
  2. Christopher Reeve
  3. Albert Einstein
  4. Terry Fox
  5. Stephen Hawking
  6. Michael J. Fox
  7. Helen Keller
  8. Ludwig Van Beethoven
  9. Thomas Edison
  10. Charles Darwin

More about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1561

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More on Michael Bloomberg and Accessible Taxis

Google delivered this to my inbox a few moments ago:

http://gothamist.com/2011/10/21/say_hello_to_the_mv-1_taxi_the_tlcs.php

I don’t know if it’s just me…I’m having an awfully hard time understanding what the new strategy is. It’s been made about as convoluted as it could possibly get.  Garth Johnson, the author of the article, attempts to sum to it up:

“Instead of just picking a wheelchair-accessible cab that would have been built in Brooklyn, the TLC picked one that isn’t which it will now try and maybe get retrofitted to be accessible at the same time adding yet another vehicle into the fleet and spending more money to create another version of the already-troubled Access-A-Ride program. Nope, still doesn’t make sense.”

Truer words never spoken, Mr. Johnson.

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