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Transportation Access
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The U.S. Senate passed a Federal transportation bill but the House of Representatives remains divided on its own version of the legislation. The bill calls for the reauthorization of funding for state projects. The Senate’s two-year reauthorization bill for $109 billion, known as H.R. 7, was passed on March 14th. The House of Representatives is now debating a five-year $260 billion bill but House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is reportedly considering opting for the Senate’s version instead. One of the sticking points was a House Republican proposal to eliminate the requirement for 20% of funds to be dedicated for mass... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2012 at Transportation Access
Barbara Yanger, a reporter who uses a wheelchair, was injured at a January 1st press conference as she boarded a Veolia-operated bus in Garden City. Yanger, who hosts two public access television shows for Cablevision Long Island, fell backward from the ramp as her chair tipped from the incline and she hit her head on the pavement. “When they extended the ramp it was flat. When I went to get on it with my wheelchair it kind of went up,” said Yanger, who also suffered a heart attack and stroke in late November. “I was confused. I didn’t know what... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2012 at Transportation Access
The Suffolk County Disabilities Advisory Board is looking for ways to reduce late cancellations and no-shows on the Suffolk County Accessible Transit (SCAT) paratransit system following a federal review of the service. In April 2011, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a tri-annual report on SCAT that cited a high number of no-shows and late cancellations. The Department of Public Works (DPW) that runs SCAT responded with a proposal to decrease the advance reservation time from 7 days to 3 in the hopes of reducing the no-show rate. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows transit providers to take reservations... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2012 at Transportation Access
The fight for accessible taxis in New York City has taken two monumental steps forward. On December 23rd, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ruled in favor of Disability Rights Advocates in a class action lawsuit charging the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) with discrimination against wheelchair users. The judge wrote, “It is clear, however, that less than 2% of the city’s fleet being wheelchair accessible, resulting in the unavailability of taxi transportation and significantly increased waiting times for disabled persons who require wheelchairs, is not meaningful access…meaningful access for the disabled to public transportation services is not a utopian... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2012 at Transportation Access
On January 1, a private company assumed operating responsibilities for the service formerly known as Long Island Bus, ending the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) role in the service. The system now known as Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) Bus includes the paratransit service Able-Ride. Veolia Transportation, the company that is now in charge of the service, has promised to maintain the current Able-Ride service area for three years even if changes are made to the fixed route service. Fares will also remain the same. According to the NICE website, “It is the intention of the County and Veolia to preserve this... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2012 at Transportation Access
Nineteen months after being struck by a car while riding his bicycle, Andrew Rosa is coming home. Rosa, 16, suffered Severe Traumatic Brain Injury and multiple bone fractures on May 17th, 2010 while riding his bike home in Selden, New York. Since then he has had multiple brain surgeries and remains in a “minimal conscious state,” according to the Stay Strong Andrew Foundation. Rosa, who had been a junior firefighter, has been living at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside, where he receives 24-hour care. His family has been working to bring him home on December 17th. This required... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2012 at Transportation Access
Please visit www.ablenews.com for the latest news on taxi accessibility. Legislation to allow livery cabs to pick up street hails in the outer boroughs and increase the number of accessible medallions has been stalled. The legislation was passed in June but Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will not sign the bill until several issues have been resolved, including wheelchair accessibility. The original plan called for street hail permits for livery cabs as well as 1,500 new medallions, 569 of which would be wheelchair accessible. The plan is expected to generate $1 billion for the City through medallion sales. Talks fell... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2012 at Transportation Access
The first Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities has died. Matthew Sapolin, 41, passed away on November 29th. The cause of death was cancer, which he had battled since childhood. Sapolin was born in Islip, New York. He became blind at age five from bilateral retinoblastoma, a cancer affecting the optic nerve. He held a BA in Philosophy from New York University (NYU), where he was co-captain of the wrestling team. Sapolin earned the University Athletic Association Athlete of the Week honor three times and received the President's Service Award for Volunteerism and Community... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2012 at Transportation Access
Thank you for your comment, Michael. It was a please meeting your father and I am so sorry for your loss. -Emily
U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, who introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is weighing in on the accessible taxi debate in New York City. Harkin held a hearing called “The Americans with Disabilities Act and Accessible Transportation: Challenges and Opportunities” November 17th to reflect on recent developments including a class action discrimination lawsuit by the Taxis For All Campaign against the City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee sponsored the hearing where experts in the field were invited to speak. Harkin opened the hearing by discussing high rates of unemployment among people... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2011 at Transportation Access
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The fight for taxi accessibility for wheelchair users in New York City is picking up steam. A series of recent events has thrown taxi access into the spotlight and a pending court decision could influence the future of the fleet. A class action lawsuit charging the City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) with discrimination is winding its way through the federal court system with a hearing scheduled for November 22 before United States District Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York. Lawyer Julia Pinover of Disability Rights Advocates, the nonprofit legal center representing the plaintiffs said,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2011 at Transportation Access
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) unanimously approved a regulation change to allow wheelchair users to sit in the front of taxi and livery vehicles, paving the way for the industry to purchase MV-1 vehicles. The MV-1, which is manufactured with a ramp at production, is considered more durable than vehicles that are retrofitted to become accessible later. Production of the MV-1 began several weeks ago and there is already a back order of 4,000 vehicles, with the first 1,000 sold out. Fred Drasner, chair of the Vehicle Production Group that makes the MV-1 said the company... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2011 at Transportation Access
Disability Rights Advocates has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City of New York, charging them with failing to include people with disabilities in emergency planning. The lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in the Southern District of New York reflects on both Tropical Storm Irene and the 9/11 attacks. As the storm approached the city as a Category 1 hurricane, advocates say city officials’ televised announcements did not include sign language interpreters, evacuation maps were not usable to people with low vision and school buses that were used for evacuations did not contain lifts or... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2011 at Transportation Access
John Rose has the right to enter his Co-op City home through the building’s front door, a Bronx Supreme Court judge has ruled, requiring the building’s management company to make renovations. However, the damages awarded to the tenant were far lower than what the New York City Human Rights Commission said he deserved. Rose, who has cerebral palsy, had asked River Bay Corp. to make the front door accessible in 2008. The company said it would make the side door accessible instead and Rose said that made him feel like a “second-class citizen.” Rose has lived in the building for... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2011 at Transportation Access
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Imagining New York City and the world without Michael Imperiale’s booming voice, friendly smile and firm opinions is to imagine a place that is blander, colder and less direct. Imperiale passed away last month at the age of 74. He lived on the Lower East Side and was the 34-year partner of the late Frieda Zames. Disability rights activist Anne Emerman said, “Michael was a quintessential downtown guy, riding a scooter, wearing a big Western hat and a poncho. Bus drivers said he was the mayor of the Lower East Side.” Imperiale was the lead singer for the Disabled in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2011 at Transportation Access
During and after Tropical Storm Irene passed through the tri-state area, people with disabilities and their advocates reported lack of accessibility at some evacuation centers and insufficient disaster planning for the disability community. The City ordered evacuations from “Zone A” neighborhoods that are considered the most vulnerable to flooding. Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY) surveyed six of the shelters for those residents and found problems with accessibility. CIDNY has been working with the City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) on disaster preparedness since 9/11 and Dooha said she was disappointed... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2011 at Transportation Access
New York City must retain emergency call boxes with fire and police buttons on streets and other locations because it has not provided an accessible alternative, a judge said in August, settling a lawsuit filed on behalf of people with hearing disabilities. The City had sought to lift a 1996 injunction banning removal of the boxes and proposed using pay phones enhanced with a tapping mechanism as a replacement. One tap would indicate that the emergency was a fire and two taps would request the police. However, United States District Judge Robert Sweet said that was not an adequate substitute... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2011 at Transportation Access
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The independent living movement is mourning the loss of a powerful force last month when Fred Fay passed away. Fay was 66 and lived in Concord, Mass. Fay became an activist after being injured in a trapeze accident at 16 that damaged his spinal cord. Fay learned that he would never walk again and began using a wheelchair and then driving a car. When he was 17, Fay co-founded a counseling and information center with his mother Janet called “Opening Doors” and the Washington Architectural Barriers Project that fought for accessibility of the D.C. transit system. Fay developed assistive technology... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2011 at Transportation Access
Assemblyman Micah Kellner is presenting an alternative proposal to the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s (TLC) Five Borough Taxi Plan that would require all new yellow taxis to be accessible. Kellner’ proposal has support from the taxi industry but the TLC says it is sticking to its own plan, which calls for only partial accessibility of the new fleet. Kellner’s Access-for-All Taxi and Livery Plan (A4ATL) seeks to modify the “livery street hail” bill (A8496) that is pending in Albany. That bill was introduced in June and calls for 38 percent of 1,500 new yellow cabs to be accessible. The bill... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2011 at Transportation Access
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Harriet Phyllis Findlay, a longtime advocate for people with disabilities, passed away on July 2. Findlay was the director of the vocational rehabilitation program at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison, New Jersey. She developed the office over a 30-year period and continued to work there until shortly before her death. A memorial took place at the institute on July 20. Findlay passed away at 73 and lived in Metuchen, New Jersey. Debbie Hehir, PASP Coordinator for the Middlesex County Office for the Disabled said, “She was just a lovely lady, soft-spoken but she was so wise and knowledgeable and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2011 at Transportation Access
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Seven thousand athletes from more than 170 countries participated in the 13th annual Special Olympics World Games from June 25th to July 4th in Athens, Greece. The Special Olympics is the largest sporting event for people with intellectual disabilities, providing programs to more than 3.7 million participants. Three thousand coaches and officials attended the event along with 25,000 volunteers and 40,000 family members. Photo: Gerard Rich of Team USA jumped 3 meters and 73 centimeters in the M14 preliminary long jump competition and took the gold medal in the M20 finals, jumping 4 meters and 35 centimeters. Athletes competed in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2011 at Transportation Access
Advocates for former inmates with mental illness have won the latest battle in an ongoing dispute with New York City over its provision of re-entry services. The June 28 decision in the ongoing case of Brad H. v. NYC overturns an earlier decision favoring the City that had dismissed a complaint about the City’s compliance with service requirements based on the date of its filing. The case began with a lawsuit that was filed in 1999 on behalf of inmates charging that the City had failed to comply with the State Constitution and Mental Hygiene Law requiring the provision of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2011 at Transportation Access
On July 14, leaders of President Barack Obama’s disability policy team held a virtual town hall meeting with the community. The one-hour meeting was streamed live at www.disability.gov and archived for viewing on the website. The advisors who answered community questions were Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy and Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Jeffrey Crowley, Senior Advisor on Disability Policy and Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy at the White House; and Rebecca Cokley, Director of Priority Placement for Public Engagement at the White House Presidential Personnel Office.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2011 at Transportation Access
The state of Minnesota has shut down many of its services due to the legislature’s failure to reach a budget deal by July 1, closing down programs that serve people with disabilities. Agencies that have been impacted include the State Services for the Blind (SSB), which cancelled its Radio Talking Book show for the blind. According to a government website, “Locations will be closed and Radio Talking Book will not be on the air. Any services SSB provides or purchases on behalf of customers will be suspended. This includes all services from SSB such as training, equipment purchases and transportation... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2011 at Transportation Access
Two retired New York City police officers have filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charging that they have been discriminated against over their use of hearing aids to perform their work. Attorney Colleen Meenan of Meenan & Associates, LLC, who represents the officers, said the New York Police Department (NYPD) disclosed a policy in January 20009 that officers on the force should have the same hearing capacity they did when they were hired. According to Meenan, the two officers who filed the complaint – Daniel Carione and Jim Phillips – were forced to retire from... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2011 at Transportation Access