Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If you are crippled, don't plan on getting milk

There are so many 'wrong' things happening in our world. Yet, for me, the primary issue is how grossly unaware people are on the plight of people with disabilities. Not only do PWD suffer from sigma, prejudice, unemployment, and general mistreatment, in New York, at least they deal with the issue other minorities take for granted -- movement.

Yesterday, at United Cerebral Palsy, one of my students simply wanted to go across the street to buy her favorite coffee. Yet, mobility issues and a lack of help prevented her. Since when should going to the grocery store be a privilege? Later, some friends and I had a discussion about New York's accessibility for people who use wheelchairs. I argued that the system is disrespectful and impossible to navigate. So, I called New York's access-a-ride to find out for myself. (Note: it is virtually impossible to use the subway in NY with a disability. There are very few elevators and these rarely work).

I got the reservation number for access-a-ride off the net. When you call, you have to push through two buttons to get to a person. Not bad. But, the first time, my call was disconnected. The second time I got someone right away. Here's the lowdown. You have to reserve 1-2 days in advance. There are no 'same day calls.' So, evidently PWD have to plan ahead. Say, if they are going nuts and need to get to a movie -- they are out of luck. Next, you can request a time, but there are no guarantees that the van will arrive on time. Also, this is a 'shared' ride, so when you are dropped off is up in the air. Evidently, PWD don't need to be on time. Finally, I asked if I could use the service daily to go to work. I was told I needed to call another department. The BEST thing was that the operator was nice.

Here is the message: People with disabilities are unlikely to need to be on time. They live in a timeless universe and yet, they should plan ahead, and they aren't expected to have jobs. 

I really would like people to see these problems. Why do we go on about so many problems and yet people right in our neighborhood are denied basic rights? 

Note: the bar that we were at is not accessible.

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