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  • Writer's pictureMeg O'Connell

Accessible Transportation: A Call to Action

Ask any person with a physical disability, which is the bigger hurdle: Your core disability? Or access barriers?

Accessing buildings, services and transportation will be the answer 99 out of 100 (there’s always one outlier) people will say it’s the way we continue to make mobility difficult for people with a wide range of disabilities.

That’s why we are sharing our National Transportation Week Call to Action. While there have been great gains in employers understanding the value of remote work – from entry to executive level, for people with and without disabilities – many jobs still require an in-person presence at least a few days per week.

For the past several decades, National Transportation Week has been observed in mid-May.

Public transit, inclusive transportation and safe sidewalks are huge elements in the quality of life for everyone and enable people with disabilities to navigate to and around their workplaces.

We say it all the time EVERYONE has a role to play in accessibility. Individuals and employers alike MUST all advocate for better transportation and ensure their campuses are fully accessible – from pedestrian sidewalks, to workplace shuttles, and buses, all should be 100% accessible. Here are a few specifics for our call to action for more accessible transportation:

1) Sidewalk Accessibility: Your budgets should invest in connecting missing gaps, fixing broken parts and leveling sidewalks buckled by tree roots. Most importantly check your curb cuts. Are they in all the appropriate places? Are they closest to the building entrance? Make sure entryways and corridors are not cluttered ensuring access. Ensure your outdoor spaces are free from bike racks, sidewalk café tables, kiosks and other barriers that can make your sidewalks inaccessible. And most importantly, report accessibility issues.

2) Ensure Transit Authorities Are Focused on Accessibility: Work with transit authorities to make their systems more inclusive. Old train systems (elevated and underground) built before the Americans with Disabilities Act are not wheelchair accessible. Barely one in four New York subway trains are served by elevators – and oftentimes, dozens of elevators are broken. This destroys fast, efficient and safe mobility for people with disabilities. Buses with lifts/deployable ramps must be well-maintained. Drivers must be trained in how to safely use tie downs and safety devices. Accessible transit helps to bring diverse talent to your workplace.

3) Most Rideshares Are Not Accessible: People use their own vehicles means 99% of vehicles cannot accommodate a power wheelchair and many drivers flat our refuse to pick up a person with a disability or assist them. App-based rideshare firms have opposed, often in court, attempts to require them to provide accessible vehicles. Some cities have made the dangerous move of issuing rideshare vouchers while reducing accessible circulator buses. This is a version of “separate but equal” – which we know is not equal.

4) Abandoned Micro Mobility Devices: On the surface, the idea of supporting public transit while lessening automobile dependency via dockless scooters and rental bikes is great. It solves the first/last mile gap between the bus/train stop and final destination. But discarded scooters and bikes block sidewalks, curb ramps, transit stops and building entrances. They are dangerous tripping hazards for everyone. Work with city council to ensure micro mobility is being regulated. That means designated parking only and consequences for micro mobility firms that do not corral their devices in safe places.

5) Accessible Leadership: Work with leaders in local businesses and nonprofit community to ensure that ALL transportation is inclusive. This could be as simple as improving curb ramps. Curb ramps are often built poorly. A community service project could involve a post heavy rain inspection of 100 curb ramps, to note flooding that can be reported to public works departments. This is an opportunity for allies of the disability community to help demand 100 percent inclusion for all.

Your workforce and community function at the highest level when people of all abilities can move about easily via sidewalk, transit, rideshare and more. Inclusion means everyone.

That’s why we named our firm Global Disability Inclusion. We have decades of expertise in employment, but we work just as hard to make our communities inclusive.

To talk about how we can collaborate on your commitment to inclusion, contact me for a 30-minute chat -

No charge. Just a chat.


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