Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New York City: Take Direct Action Against Ableism!

As we discuss accessibility and the new versions of the DSM-V (see here and here for discussions of transgender identity) I wanted to bring some awesome direct action items that folks concerned about access should be aware of:

The following is from the Disabilities Network of New York:

New Yorkers with disabilities are being severely affected by this economic downturn. Already among the lowest-income New Yorkers, they are now being hit with budget cuts.

For example, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) wants to MORE THAN DOUBLE the fare for the Access-A-Ride paratransit service. For many New Yorkers with disabilities, this is the only way to get to a doctor’s appointment, school or work.

Now they are being asked to pay MORE than nondisabled transit riders. And for a service they use only because public transportation is largely inaccessible to them!

To me, this does not seem fair or even practical. That is why the Disabilities Network is working with our allies to suggest EQUITABLE AND REALISTIC alternatives to this increase (more here). We're even talking with the for-hire car industry about new transit options that would serve people with disabilities better for the same cost or less.

Our work doesn't stop during this economic crisis; in fact, there is more need than ever. That is why I am asking you to contribute to the Network today.

Your support should be at the level that is right for you. Your contribution of any amount means so much.

Many Americans report that they will increase their charitable giving this year. They know that, with government funding down, it is the individual who must make sure that our society does not abandon its core values of civil rights and equal opportunity."

Coming directly after I heard about the inaccessible Obama Inauguration this news is incredibly distressing. Except distressing isn’t the right word. The idea of more than doubling the Access-a-Ride fare is a sentence of solitude to most New Yorkers with disabilities. There are only a handful of accessible subway stations, and even those deemed “accessible” often aren’t. Elevators are consistently out of order, there are never clean benches for resting, turnstiles are at an inaccessible height and can be way to small for many people. In addition there is no security at most subway stops and folks with disabilities are at a severe risk for encountering violence, although added security could also be a detriment to many folks with emotional/mental/cognitive disabilities.

On my ride to work today I was handed a flier that said the subway/bus discount for senior citizens, children and folks with disabilities would be unchanged. Which is great. Except of course for the fact that the subways aren’t equipped for folks with any kind of disability.

What's also bitterly ironic is that I was handed this flier on the Long Island Rail Road. I want to recognize that there are people who travel on the LIRR who are coming from positions of low income or poverty, or are struggling with our economic times. However the overwhelming ridership is people with significant incomes. So it's incredibly upsetting that a person on their way to the Hamptons might know about these meetings but that the average New Yorker on the subway has seen no posters, announcements, or LCD screens about the public hearings. And I can gurantee no one has handed a NYC subway rider a flier. There has been a very clear demonstration of who the MTA is trying to market the hearing towards.

So please consider donating! Or better yet donate and contact the MTA to let them know it’s not acceptable. For New Yorkers attend a hearing at any of the following locations (all are accessible) and voice your anger. For folks outside of New York contact Douglas Sussman Director of MTA Community Affairs:

347 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10017
212-878-7483

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