Monday, July 26, 2010

Livability for Everyone: Celebrating the ADA Anniversary

Happy 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act!

The top ten cities for wheelchair users were named today by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. The cities were rated on the basis of climate, employment of people with disabilities, Medicaid spending and eligibility, and age of the cities (with the assumption that older cities are less accessible). Due to the difficulty of judging actual accessibility of transit systems and streets, the Foundation mentioned these factors in its announcement of the top 10, but did not assess transit and street design in making its selections.

Rated number one is Seattle, with Denver, New Orleans, Lubbock, Fort Worth, and and small Arlington, Va. also in the top 10. If these are considered the most livable cities for people with physical disabilities, specifically for wheelchair users, then I assume, rightly or wrongly, that the other measures used for rating the cities are in some ways proxies for transit and mobility options other than cars. For example, the employment rate for people with disabilities assumes that most of those employees are getting to a workplace outside the home. As much as an accessible home is a necessity, so is the freedom to navigate streets and travel to places outside our own four walls.

Progress on Next 20 Years of Paratransit

For those interested in improving transit, streets and other mobility options for people with disabilities, Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) is hosting a National Paratransit Online Dialogue to address calls for programs to decrease service or provide innovative options in a time of tight budgets. This dialogue will provide an opportunity for providers and stakeholders to share experiences, paratransit practices, challenges, and recommendations. ESPA is defining paratransit for the purpose of this dialogue to include ADA complementary service and a range of traditional and beyond-ADA demand response services for people with disabilities, older adults, customers of community programs, and/or the general public. Paratransit services are typically door-to-door or curb-to-curb reservation-based services.

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