Thursday, March 17, 2011

Praise for Transit and Improving the Experience for People with Disabilities

Always a good day when you read about people and organizations you personally know. Today it is the American Public Transportation Association. I read many of Secretary LaHood's blog posts on the Fastlane. (Yes, I skip stuff related to airlines and anything on the water except for taxis and ferries.) Today, I find the Secretary praising APTA for its mission to "strengthen and improve public transportation,":
a goal this Department deeply believes in. This Administration has made transportation a priority--and affirmed that commitment, not just with words, but also with actions. President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal invests $129 billion in transportation. We’re talking about a 127% increase in support aimed at improving safety, service, and reliability.
After reviewing the proposed budget's transit priorities, Secretary LaHood spoke generally about the contributions of public transit, saying that "[p]ublic transportation connects Americans," takes them to airports, downtowns, jobs, essential services, education and shopping, while relieving congestion.
Every day in our cities and towns, transit workers are planning, building, maintaining, repairing and operating these vital systems. Here at DOT, we think that’s incredibly important.
The Secretary quoted from his speech at the APTA Legislative Conference.

People with Disabilities Invited to Rate Service

Speaking of public transit service, a former colleague, Judy Shanley, pointed me to a survey on the website of the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access that requests people with disabilities to share their public transit experiences. Of course, I can never stop with the one recommended feature and explored the website further. There is information about and links to resources involving rural aging in place, naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCS), and universal design for housing.

Easter Seals Project ACTION points out that IDEA also has published a wheelchair users mobility report that includes new data on wheeled mobility devices people with disabilities use, including data about ease of use and navigating spaces. The report recommends that standards be revised to reflect body size and functional abilities of current wheelchair users.

Great Minds Think Alike

Two national parters, Easter Seals Project ACTION and the Taxi, Limousine and Paratransit Association pointed me to the big news that the Department of Energy (DOE) is loaning $50 million to develop a "six-passenger MV-1, a purpose-built wheelchair accessible vehicle that will run on compressed natural gas." According to DOE,
[The] MV-1 is the only factory-built light-duty vehicle to date that meets or exceeds the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The vehicle features a deployable access ramp with a 1,200-pound weight capacity, a 36-inch entryway and an interior that accommodates up to six occupants with the optional jump seat, including one or two wheelchair passengers and the driver.
Getting to and Navigating Transit

Easter Seals Proejct ACTION
Webinar series - The Cutting Edge of Wayfinding Technology - Apr. 4 and 11 at 2 ET. The webinars will cover wayfinding technologies that help customers with disabilities navigate transit systems. The two sessions will discuss new technologies that are either available to the public or currently being researched. Visit ESPA's homepage for information about the organization's many events about accessibility, transportation, and improving transportation options for people with disabilities.

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