WASHINGTON: Transportation continues to be a barrier for older adults and people with disabilities in rural communities. In response, Easterseals designed the Accessible Transportation Community Initiative to increase options for independent mobility in several communities nationwide. The initiative will address the accessible transportation needs of people who rely on public transportation and will begin in selected rural communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Montana and Alaska.
When driving is not a viable option for independent mobility, people tend to shrink their world to their homes, relying on family and friends when travel is necessary. Often routine activities such as going to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment go neglected due to the absence of readily available transportation solutions. The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation (MACF) awarded Easterseals with a grant of $1.2 million in order to make transportation more accessible in rural communities.
With this grant, Easterseals will build a coalition in each of these communities and provide webinars, trainings, technical support, contact information, resources and much more. Through building a strong coalition of stakeholders, each community will begin to discover that solutions shared across agencies will help individuals and organizations achieve what one agency alone could not. As a result, mobility options will be made available to alleviate the difficulty people with disabilities and older adults have in moving around their community.
“The innovative solutions developed through this initiative are vital to older adults and people with disabilities,” said Randy Rutta, President and CEO of Easterseals. “Transportation remains an enormous challenge and our ultimate goal is to build accessible communities for all.”
Communities interested in applying for an Accessible Transportation Community Initiative grant, should visit www.projectaction.com or contact Donna Smith, Senior Director, Easterseals Project Action Consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit easterseals.com
COLUMBIA: Columbia citizens who use a wheelchair have a difficult time finding a ride outside of normal business hours. In fact, there isn’t a single wheelchair-accessible taxi cab in service in Columbia right now.
“I mean, to think that people in the faith community can’t get out and go to church on Sundays because there’s no accessible vehicles is stunning to me,” said Chuck Graham, the chair of the Columbia Disabilities Commission.
While there are numerous wheelchair-accessible transportation services offered in the Columbia area, such as MO-X and OATS, these services are many times not offered at night or over the weekend. Specifically, Graham said, people using wheelchairs don’t have access to these services on Sundays.
“There are some services that” offer wheelchair-accessible transportation to people “but once again, they’re going to be strictly limited, they’re going to be only during the day time, and they’re not going to be on Sundays,” Graham said.
The Columbia Disabilities Commission submitted a letter to Mayor Brian Treece and Columbia’s city council asking for major changes to Columbia’s transportation services. Specifically, Graham said they want the city to offer grants to taxi companies in order to incentivize them to offer wheelchair-accessible services.
“What we’re proposing to the city council is that they provide two ten-thousand dollar grants per year to be able to offer those to taxi companies who would like to use that as an incentive to buy an accessible vehicle and then put that into their rotation,” Graham said.
Treece said he’s on board with the idea, and wants to fund the initiative through the street closure ordinance he introduced recently to the council.
“We need to make sure that we’re providing those basic services like transportation available to everyone regardless of whether they use a wheelchair or not. I think that’s a basic function of government,” Treece said.
The street closure ordinance charges downtown developers a fee for taking up parking spaces during construction. Treece said this is an appropriate way to use the funds.
“I think that could be a great financial mechanism that is directly tied to those who use our sidewalks and streets the most.”
A new taxi-voucher program, aimed at providing transportation for low-income elderly or disabled people needing a ride to doctors appointments, will bring Columbia its first wheelchair-accessible taxi later this month. But the man in charge of administering these vouchers, Central Missouri Community Action’s Mobility Coordinator Anthony Nichols, concedes that the program falls well short of providing adequate service for people with disabilities.
“I couldn’t agree more with Chuck. This is a great small victory, but it is just a step. The bigger picture is one of more need, and that need is only going to continue to grow,” Nichols said.
The wheelchair-accessible vehicle, provided through ABC Taxi, should be put into circulation later this month. The initiative is funded through the Community Health Fund, which garners $500,000 per year from Boone Health Center’s lease with BJC Health Care. The taxi-voucher program will receive $20,000 per year to provide transportation for low-income people, but does not provide ride services for people outside of that realm.
WASHINGTON: Mobility Ventures, manufacturer of the MV-1, the only vehicle specifically designed to meet the needs of people who use wheelchairs, will join approximately 150 other disability advocates to raise awareness of issues that affect the disability community as part of United Spinal Association’s fifth annual Roll on Capitol Hill.
Mobility Ventures will be exhibiting at Roll on Capitol Hill and highlighting the benefits of accessible transportation. The lack of accessible, affordable transportation is a growing problem for the estimated 20 million Americans who rely on wheelchairs, canes and other ambulatory devices. Disability advocates are increasingly calling on transit systems, taxi and car-sharing services to add accessible vehicles like the MV-1 to their fleets.
In the D.C. metro, an estimated 390,000 people live with ambulatory disabilities. The D.C. Taxicab Commission (DCTC) added 16 MV-1s last year and is offering grants to help offset the purchase of the vehicles to taxicab companies and drivers. MV-1 vehicles are also used by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) as a part of its MetroAccess service.
“Mobility is critical to almost every aspect of our lives – our ability to work, to socialize, to go to doctor’s appointments – it is truly synonymous with freedom and independence,” said Pat Kemp, executive vice president of Mobility Ventures. “Improving access to transportation for people with disabilities will transform lives and communities.”
Roll on Capitol Hill will bring wheelchair users, clinicians and United Spinal members to Washington, D.C. to meet with Members of Congress and staff to discuss policies that improve the health, independence, and quality of life of people with disabilities.
“On this 70th anniversary year, what began in 1946 as a small, determined group of World War II veterans advocating for greater civil rights and independence in New York City, has spawned the most significant grassroots policy initiative for people with disabilities in the nation,” said Jim Weisman, United Spinal’s president and CEO.
Mobility Ventures is a sponsor of the event and working with the DCTC to provide transportation to event participants.
To learn more about Mobility Ventures, visit www.mv-1.us.
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) recognized the work being done in the City of Regina to improve public transportation for people with disabilities at the annual Provincial Paratransit Meeting in Regina on June 14.
The SHRC also released its report, “Achieving Accessible Transportation: A Systemic Approach for Saskatchewan,” which describes how stakeholders are working together to transform public transportation for people with disabilities in Saskatoon and Regina.
“This report captures a commitment to systemic outcomes, and to a shared vision for what working collaboratively can achieve,” said David Arnot, Chief Commissioner of the SHRC. “Regina is a perfect example of this. The community advocates, transit service providers, and the city leadership, including the Mayor and Council, have demonstrated that meaningful change is possible when everyone is on board.”
The provincial Disability Strategy, launched in June 2015, stresses that accessible public transportation is about helping people with disabilities get from place to place, and it is about creating an inclusive society. Today’s report highlights improved taxi, paratransit, and standard transit service for people with disabilities that enable both participation and inclusion.
“Effective and accessible transit service is a vital need in our community as we strive to be as inclusive and sustainable as possible,” said Mayor Michael Fougere. “We have focused on affordable upgrades that are available to all cities looking to make a big impact in the lives of transit users with disabilities, and we will continue to implement all recommended changes mentioned in the SHRC’s report.”
“This document is intended as a blueprint for all other municipalities,” said Chief Commissioner Arnot. “Whether adapted in part, or adopted in whole, it is my belief that there is much to be gleaned from the benchmarks established in this report.”
To advance this initiative, the Agency will be meeting with its Accessibility Advisory Committee on June 20, 2016, and will be asking for input from persons with disabilities, transportation service providers and all interested Canadians on how regulatory measures can help make the federal transportation network accessible for persons with disabilities. Interested parties have until September 30, 2016, to submit comments at email@example.com. A discussion paper on accessible transportation is available.
Currently, the Agency administers two sets of accessibility regulations:
The Agency also sets out expectations for the accessibility of the federal transportation network in accessibility standards.
“Accessible transportation services give Canadians with disabilities equal opportunity to live independently and participate fully in society,” said Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency. “The Agency is committed to ensuring that its regulatory modernization initiative helps advance this fundamental human right.”
The Agency plans to complete consultations and draft modernized regulations by the end of 2017, and implement the regulations in 2018.
The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC), the Federal Transit Administration’s newest technical assistance center, has launched a new website to provide easy access to a wealth of useful resources and information.
The NADTC, which promotes the availability and accessibility of transportation options that serve the needs of people with disabilities, older adults, and caregivers, focuses on leveraging FTA’s Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) formula grants and other transit investments.
The clearinghouse offers the most valuable resources created through FTA’s investments in technical assistance supporting accessibility and mobility. Visit the site for free resources that support the work of public transportation, from front-line operators to board members. The website also offers online community forums, registration for upcoming distance learning opportunities such as webinars and online courses, and links to grant opportunities.
Since the launch, the Center has responded to hundreds of requests from FTA grantees, communities and the riding public for information, technical assistance and support in understanding best practices and leveraging resources.
WASHINGTON, DC: A U.S. Senator Cory Booker sent a letter to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation chairman U.S. Sen. John Thune and ranking member U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson urging the Committee to incorporate additional language to guarantee improved accessibility for people with disabilities through the nation’s air system in the Federal Aviation Administration authorization.
“The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) of 1986 sought to address the needs of this population by prohibiting discriminatory treatment of persons with disabilities in air transportation, but after decades of implementation, these provisions must be updated to reflect modern times. Air travelers with disabilities continue to face extreme, unnecessary barriers that restrict them from participating in society on an equal basis,” the Senator said.
“Numerous claims against airline carriers have been dismissed in court when brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act, leaving many individuals aggrieved by an onerous petition process within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and nowhere to turn when their complaint is not adequately addressed. We must and can do better,” the Senator concludes.
People with disabilities continue to face extreme barriers to equal access to the nation’s air system. A 2015 report to Congress found 27,556 accessibility-related complaints filed by passengers to the (USDOT) in 2014, half (12,977) of which pertained to failure to provide adequate assistance to those in wheelchairs. Airline passenger D’Arcee Neal is one of the individuals who has suffered neglectful treatment during his travel.
The Federal Transit Administration is hosting a series of six webinars to help transportation providers understand Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations for accessible transportation.
These hour-long webinars will include useful information on relevant ADA topics, tips and suggestions for compliance and accessible service, and opportunities to ask questions.
Upcoming webinars include sessions about demand responsive service requirements on March 2, 2016, transportation facilities on March 16, 2016 and motor vehicles on March 30, 2016.
For more information, visit http://www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/12885.html
Access Exchange International in coordination with Missouri State Universtiy are pleased to launch this important survey on transportation needs of children with disabilities in developing countries. People around the world are working hard to provide better education for children with disabilities, either as part of regular schools or in separate schools just for children with disabilities. Often, transportation is a missing link and many children cannot get to school or center. This survey is to be completed only by the head of your residential, day, resource, inclusive, or training school or center or his or her designee. Your answers and comments will be used to write our guide, Transportation to School for Children with Disabilities, to be published and distributed free of charge before the end of 2016.
This survey has been prepared and copyrighted by Access Exchange International (AEI), San Francisco, USA, in collaboration with Professor Paul Ajuwon of Missouri State University, U.S.A. Missouri State University has approved this study. Professor Paul Ajuwon will also collaborate with interested colleagues to publish outcomes of this research in international, peer reviewed journals. For information on AEI, go to www.globalride-sf.org . All the answers and comments you provide will be kept confidential. Please use the link below to access and complete the survey in SurveyMonkey on or before November 24, 2015. You may complete a portion of the survey and return later to finish the rest.
Study participants who provide their full names, phone number, and mailing/postal address on a separate page on completion of the survey in SurveyMonkey will have their names entered for the drawing of prizes. These prizes include: free Amazon Fire tablets and popular ink print books on special education and disability.
Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/schooltransportsurvey
LAS VEGAS, NEV.: The Nevada Department of Transportation is soliciting public feedback on Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility plans for Nevada roadways and transportation infrastructure.
New NDOT roadways and facilities are constructed to meet accessibility needs. But, roads and facilities built decades ago may not fully reach current accessibility standards. NDOT has surveyed all state-owned roadway sidewalks, ramps, slopes, pedestrian push buttons, sidewalk crossings and other accessibility components on the more than 5,000 miles of state-maintained roadway to rank compliance with ADA accessibility guidelines. From that data, the department is prioritizing a list of potential future projects, such as improved sidewalk ramps and moving utility poles from sidewalks, to enhance accessibility.
NDOT has also developed a new ADA Transition Plan which establishes policy, procedures and programs to further enhance accessibility on Nevada roads. The public and other stakeholders are invited to review the plan and provide feedback through Oct. 31 by visiting nevadadot.com/ADA.
“We are dedicated to keeping Nevadans safe and connected, and that means continually providing a transportation system that is accessible to all,” NDOT Principal Road Design Engineer Natalie Caffaratti said. “We look forward to hearing feedback from Nevadans on how we can best serve everyone using Nevada’s transportation system.”