SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Transportation and mobility play key roles in the struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity in the disability community. As the nation prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Independent Living Centers (IL-Cs) continue to advocate for barrier-free access.
"Transportation opens doors for people with disabilities and is key for ensuring access to employment, education, living independently and being part of the community," explained Rebeca Aguirre, California State Independent Living Council (SILC) member.
Although the ADA resulted in improvements, such as sidewalk ramps at street corners, audible traffic signals, low-floor buses with ramps and wheelchair lifts and accessible building entrances, significant obstacles still exist.
"Architectural barriers preventing access to transportation services, such as a bus without a wheelchair lift or a pole in front of a subway door, can be eliminated with careful planning and input from the disability community," noted Aguirre.
While all ILCs provide training on safety precautions when using public transportation and help with transit applications, there is more to do. Through groups like Communities Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF), ILCs can advance access to our communities.
"CALIF has System Change Advocates who organize communities and help consumers navigate public transportation," said Aguirre. "They identify accessibility challenges to be addressed and monitor lawsuits against transportation providers, such as Uber and Lyft, accused of violating the ADA in serving the disability community."
Aguirre attended TransForm Transportation Choices Summit 2015 in Sacramento, where she advocated for universal design of California's new high-speed train cars and learned about Caltrans' oversight of park-and-ride lots to share with others who have experienced illegally parked vehicles blocking their access.
"Despite the advances we've made since the ADA passed," said SILC Executive Director Liz Pazdral, "we must continue to raise awareness and break down barriers to ensure full mobility and access for all Californians with disabilities."
The California State Independent Living Council is an independent state agency which, in cooperation with the California Department of Rehabilitation, prepares and monitors the State Plan for Independent Living.
The SILC Mission: To Create Policy and System Change for Independent Living
SOURCE California State Independent Living Council (SILC)