Tag Archives | transportation accessibility

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/

 

Comments are closed

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

 

Comments are closed

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?

Comments are closed

Google’s Self-Driving Car: The First Test Driver

self-driving carIt doesn’t seem so long ago that we first got Internet access on our family computer, with the modem that was so slow that we couldn’t even see any images, and we were still the most Web-enabled people in the neighbourhood.  But that was actually 20 years ago. Now we can order pizza on the Internet, even in my little burgh, the kids that I worked with in my last job know more about Facebook than I do, and supergiant Google’s self-driving car technology may get people with low vision operating vehicles and on the roads like the rest of us.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2402340,00.asp

There’s a video on this page of the car in action. It’s fascinating.

Google Strikes Again

Google didn’t design its self-driving car, a Toyota Prius, explicitly for people with low vision. Google has plans for a far greater market share than that, I imagine. A self-driving car could reduce or eliminate accidents across all demographics, by eliminating the need to drive while fatigued or distracted. However, Google recently chose to ask a person with less than 5% of his vision to test drive one of the self-driving cars. The gentleman found the ride very enjoyable, and speculated on how a self-driving vehicle would greatly increase his independence.

The Self-Driving Car – Not Just for Blind People

The self-driving car wouldn’t just benefit people whose disability is low vision. People who have low movement in their limbs or who have certain types of seizures may be able to benefit from self-driving car technology. Perhaps even people with hearing and/or speech impairments could benefit as well, but I’m not certain. I’d need to know more about how the car works.

At any rate, it’s a fascinating development, and it will be interesting to see whether Google does choose to market the car heavily toward people with disabilities. Even though self-driving cars are currently legal in Nevada, the Google car still needs extensive testing. It won’t be on the market for quite some time.

Comments are closed

I Don’t Need Easy – Julianna Russell

I love working with teenagers. Granted, sometimes their behaviour sometimes frustrate the hell out of me, buJulianna Russelllt we need to remember that even in the healthiest of teenagers, their brains don’t fully develop until their mid-twenties. It makes the achievements of teens like Julianna Russell stand out even more.

Julianna is another person whose achievements need celebrating this International Developmental Disabilities Month. Born with spina bifida, at age 16 she discovered that she didn’t have enough feeling in her legs to operate the pedals in a car. However, determined to get her driver’s license, she researched her options on the Internet. After taking an adapted driving course and having her car outfitted with hand controls, she was able to get her license.

She also started her own website, I Don’t Need Easy, to share with other youth with disabilities how she did it and to give them a place to network and share other experiences of growing up with disabilities.

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2012/03/25/1983570/teen-creates-website-to-help-other.html

Relating to Julianna Russell

When I read Julianna Russell’s story, I thought she was wonderfully brave.

I got my driver’s license at 16 without any problem. But after my brain surgery, I started having seizures. The surgery left some scar tissue that just sent my brain into spasms. The first little while they were large seizures that came on with little warning (although I could usually say within a couple of days that one was coming on) and caused me to lose consciousness. Gradually, as my doctors fine-tuned my medications, the seizures became rarer and rarer – but I’d be awake through them as they happened. Eventually they became tremors my arm or leg so small that no one but me knew that anything was happening. It was at that point that my neurologist declared that I could start thinking about driving again, and wrote a letter to the Ministry of Transportation for me.

But by that point I’d been over a decade without a license. It was a terrible drain on my independence, yes. My town had no public transportation. I had to rely on taxis and the good nature of others to get anywhere outside of town. Having no license put me out of the running for most jobs in social services in the area. But I sat on the letter and the opportunity to start getting my license back…for far too long…and I’m not really sure why.

I knew I’d have to start all over again after such a long period without driving, but that didn’t *really* bother me. Something else was holding me back and, like I said, I’m not sure what it was. I have the first stage of my license now, though, and will be able to take my full driver’s test in February 2012.

But I can relate to wanting the independence of being able to drive oneself around, instead of relying on other people. Kudos to Julianna Russell for finding a way to get her license and for using her talent and abilities to share with others how she did it! I actually used her site to investigate adaptations to car steering wheels.

I Don’t Need Easy

Julianna Russell’s website is here: http://hstrial-dischallenges.homestead.com/index.html

It’s obviously just getting started, and hopefully she’ll get some more people post some stories. But for people (not just necessarily teens) with disabilities that want to drive and the people that are going to be helping them, it’s a good place to start getting information. Great job, Julianna Russell! Keep it up!

 

Comments are closed

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.

Comments are closed

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/

Comments are closed

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

Comments are closed

Stop Copying Plugin made by VLC Media Player