5 for Friday: Accessibility for All

Apologies for the delay in today's post -- I stayed up late watching the Super Bowl (aka the Senate Vote) and the headlines today have been...titillating to say the least. But now, on with the show!

Today we're diving into episode eight which looked at issues of accessibility in transportation. We had a unique commute in this episode as we went on an Accessibility Walk through Highland Park with Kjensmo Walker from This Accessible Life. Leili and I simulated using a wheelchair and vision impairment goggles and had a very enlightening experience as we attempted to get from here to there.

Next we were joined in the studio by Joan Willshire from the State Council on Disability to talk about the policies aimed at supporting people with disabilities as well as how Minnesota is meeting and exceeding needs and desires.

Have a listen and then read on below for some recent headlines that correspond to this episode.

  1. Via Pew Research - To start off, it might be best to immerse yourself in some facts about Americans with disabilities. For example, did you know that the most common disabilities 'involve difficulties with walking or independent living'? Transportation accessibility seems all the more important now, eh?

  2. Via Gizmodo - If you like following big-time lawsuits, this is one to watch. A case filed in the New York State Supreme court alleges 'only 100 of Uber’s 58,000 cars within city limits are equipped to handle customers who use wheelchairs'. This definitely appears to be a blind spot of the car-hailing industry on the whole and it will be interesting to see what happens next. As you know from watching the time stamps on Law & Order reruns, however, it could move slowly as justice usually does.

  3. Via The WSJ - Let's hang with lawsuits for a second and move into the world of the Web. A federal judge recently ruled that websites must be accessible to users who are blind. Much like item #1, this falls into a legal area that's currently nebulous but seeing more momentum behind expanding our infrastructure (virtual though it may be) to be more accessible for all users.

  4. Via WYSO - Experience is essential to gaining understanding and new transit operators in the Greater Dayton (Ohio) Regional Transit System 'complete an immersive, day-long training led by people with disabilities, and designed to give bus drivers personal insight into what many passengers with disabilities experience in their daily commutes'. Given our recent commute, I'm all about this kind of activity.

  5. Via the STrib - Closing up closer to home, we're going to go full-circle on the stats from Pew above by bringing to your attention a change in housing policy in West and South St. Paul where housing options for those that receive state assistance for being both low-income and disabled (two things that frequently go hand-in-hand), will be restricted. A St. Paul Chamber member said it was an economic issue and not meant to discriminate. Read for yourself and see what you think.

That's all for this week. Episode 9 will be out soon so make sure you're subscribed to updates via the Here to There website!

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