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Learning to Drive With a Disability

by Maggie Hammond

The thought of driving with a disability can be daunting, but with support and technological advancements, driving can be worthwhile and attainable for everyone. You could find a new lease of independence, as you no longer have to rely on other people to take you to the places that you need to go to.
How the process works can vary depending on your personal circumstances. If you are returning to driving after a disability or illness then you must notify the driving agency, so they can assess whether your current licence can be continued. They may require you to attend an assessment. If you are not sure whether you need to notify the driving agency, you can check on their website for a list of medical conditions that you must inform them of. Failure to do so can result in a fine, so make sure you don’t neglect to inform the authorities.

Canadian Accessibility Guidelines Survey

A committee has been organized through the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers that has been tasked with reviewing accessibility guidelines published by various levels of government across Canada.

Access Board Updates ADA Guidelines for Buses and Vans

December 14, 2016

The Access Board has issued a final rule updating sections of its accessibility guidelines for transportation vehicles covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The rule revises provisions in the guidelines that apply to buses and vans to enhance accessibility and to address industry trends and improvements in design and technology.

The guidelines, which the Board originally published in 1991, apply to new or remanufactured vehicles (they also include provisions for rail vehicles that the Board will update separately).

The guidelines for buses and vans address boarding access, fare devices, interior circulation, seating and securement, signs, lighting, and announcement systems.

Blind Man Sets Out Alone in Google’s Driverless Car

By Ashley Halsey III and Michael Laris
Washington Post, Dec. 13, 2016

A blind man has successfully traveled around Austin unaccompanied in a car without a steering wheel or floor pedals, Google announced Tuesday.

After years of testing by Google engineers and employees, the company’s new level of confidence in its fully autonomous technology was described as a milestone.

“We’ve had almost driverless technology for a decade,” said Google engineer Nathaniel Fairfield. “It’s the hard parts of driving that really take the time and the effort to do right.”

Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, was the first non-Google employee to ride alone in the company’s gumdrop-shaped autonomous car.

Your quiet hybrid is likely to make itself heard in the not-so-distant future

Coming soon to your quiet hybrid:
By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post, November 23, 2016

Under a new safety regulation issued by the federal government, hybrids and electric cars will be equipped with a device that emits sound to alert passersby that the vehicle is running. Manufacturers have until Sept. 1, 2019, to meet the requirement.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in announcing the new safety standard, said adding noise to the nearly soundless vehicles could prevent nearly 2,400 injuries a year to pedestrians and bicyclists.

The measure is of special importance to people who are blind or visually impaired.

Disability Rights Group Sues Uber Over Wheelchair Access

Posted: Oct 13, 2016 12:18 PM EDT
Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) – A Chicago disability rights group sued Uber Thursday over wheelchair accessibility, arguing that the mobile ride-hailing company’s adherence to federal disability laws “ranges from token to non-existent” despite its expanding role in the nation’s transportation system.

The 19-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago on behalf of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago and several individuals, seeks an order requiring that Uber comply with the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, by making far more wheelchair-accessible vehicles available.

“(Uber’s) position threatens a return to the isolation and segregation that the disability rights movement has fought to overcome,” the filing says.

Feds to Clarify Rules for Service Animals on Flights

A United States Department of Transportation committee will meet for the final time Wednesday to clarify rules that allow service animals to fly for free with their owners on commercial flights.

Federal regulations require airlines to allow service animals to accompany their owners with a legitimate disability in the air.

Questions and concerns have popped up when people have successfully flown with what they claim to be emotional-support animals of all shapes and sizes, including turkeys, pigs, kangaroos and miniature horses.

“That’s the question. What is a legitimate service animal?” asked Steve Cosgrove, owner of Southlake travel agency Dynamic Travel.

Easterseals to Help Communities Provide Accessible Transportation for Older Adults and People With Disabilities

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

Transportation continues to be a barrier for older adults and people with disabilities in rural communities. In response, Easterseals designed the Accessible Transportation Community Initiative to increase options for independent mobility in several communities nationwide.

The initiative will address the accessible transportation needs of people who rely on public transportation and will begin in selected rural communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Montana and Alaska.

When driving is not a viable option for independent mobility, people tend to shrink their world to their homes, relying on family and friends when travel is necessary. Often routine activities such as going to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment go neglected due to the absence of readily available transportation solutions.

Uber Canada and Canadian Hearing Society Partner to Promote Accessibility

Jessica Vomiero
September 24, 2016

Uber Canada and the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) announced a partnership Friday that promotes employment access for the deaf and hard of hearing.

This partnership was announced during the Canadian Hearing Society’s International Week of the Deaf event “Creating an Accessible World.” The partnership will bring about several initiatives including promoting driver-partner opportunities at Uber for those who are hard of hearing and developing new features that improve communication between driver and client.

Furthermore, CHS and Uber will be introducing a “First ride for free” program, which gives deaf and hard of hearing customers a discount on their first ride as well as launching a promotion between September 26th and 29th that will donate $1 from every uberWAV and uberASSIST ride taken in Canada to CHS.

How can P.E.I. Be More Accessible for People With Disabilities?

Public consultation in December to discuss how to make Island better for people with disabilities By Shane Ross, CBC News Posted: Sep 19, 2016 1:49 PM AT| Last

Islanders will have a chance to weigh in on how to make P.E.I. including its ferry and other transportation services more accessible to people with disabilities.

The federal government will be hosting public consultations around the country, including Dec. 8 in Charlottetown, to seek input on how to make Canada more accessible.

The consultation process will help inform the development of planned accessibility legislation, said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities in a news release.

Improving Pathways to Transit for Persons with Disabilities

Sep 6, 2016

SAN JOSE, CALIF.: The Mineta Transportation Institute of San Jose State University just released a study in which researchers from universities in California, New Jersey, Florida and Australia looked for ways to make the infrastructure surrounding public transit more accessible to people with disabilities.

The investigators recognized that it wasn’t enough to make buses and trains accessible; the pathways to those stations and stops must also be accessible, or people with disabilities wouldn’t be able to get there to use them. The research team explored strategies to increase access to the built environment surrounding transit facilities in five United States transportation systems. From those five case studies, they developed a list of policy recommendations for future improvements to pathways to transit. They also addressed the challenges of making changes beyond transit agency property that allow people with disabilities fuller access to public transportation, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Disabled T.O. Traveler Considers Lawsuit After Air Canada Unable to Accommodate Wheelchair

Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, August 12, 2016 3:46PM EDT

TORONTO — A disabled Toronto man is considering legal action against Air Canada after the airline said it was unable to fly him to a U.S. city because the aircraft couldn’t accommodate his motorized wheelchair.

Tim Rose, who has cerebral palsy, says the airline’s lack of an accessible aircraft for his trip is a grave concern not just for himself, but for all people with disabilities.

The 31-year-old had booked a direct flight from Toronto to Cleveland for a date in September, but was told that his wheelchair was too big to fit in the plane’s cargo area.

Man Denied Air Canada Flight Due to the Size of His Wheelchair

by Faiza Amin
Citynews, Aug. 1, 2016 8:10 pm EDT

A Toronto man is accusing Canada’s national airline of the most blatant discrimination he’s ever experienced, saying reps even compared him and his wheelchair to luggage.

Tim Rose had plans to fly to Cleveland this September, but on Sunday, he says Air Canada told him his flight would be refunded because he couldn’t fly on the plane due to his wheelchair being five inches too tall for the cargo area.

“I felt like an oversized piece of luggage,” he told CityNews. “They even said to me at the time if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit it’s like an oversized piece of luggage.”

City MTA Adds 70 Wheelchair-Accessible MV-1 Vehicles to Paratransit Fleet

NYC Access-A-Ride Fleet Will Have Close to 500 MV-1s in Service NEW YORK, July 12, 2016

Mobility Ventures LLC and the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced today that 70 wheelchair-accessible MV-1 vehicles will be added to MTA’s paratransit fleet, Access-A-Ride, in an effort to increase public transportation accessibility in a city with more than half a million people living with ambulatory impairments.

The city’s Access-A-Ride program, which already has nearly 400 MV-1s in service, is a shared-ride, door-to-door service for people unable to use public buses and subways. Replacing small buses with the MV-1
has helped the MTA save costs due to the MV-1’s proven durability and reduced maintenance needs.

United Airlines Earns Top Marks on Disability Equality Index

Company named one of the “Best Places to Work” for 2016 by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the U.S. Business Leadership Network CHICAGO, July 13, 2016

United Airlines achieved the top score of 100 percent on the 2016 Disability Equality Index (DEI), a prominent benchmarking metric that rates U.S. companies on their disability inclusion policies and practices. This designation also earns United a place on DEI’s 2016 “Best Places to Work” list.

The DEI, a joint initiative by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the U.S. Business Leadership Network, evaluates companies based on four categories: culture and leadership, enterprise-wide access, employment practices and community engagement and support services.

Air Canada Innovates to Make In-Flight Entertainment Systems Accessible for Vision-Impaired Customers

John Rae and Marcia Yale are pleased to have reached a settlement concerning a complaint they filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission for passengers who are vision-impaired to more easily access Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. Both Mr. Rae and Mrs. Yale are vision-impaired.

“The parties are delighted to have arrived at a settlement of this matter to ensure that persons with a vision impairment who travel on Air Canada’s flights can enjoy the In Flight Entertainment System,” said Mr. Rae.

“Air Canada has shown true leadership in this regard and we are very proud to have participated in the process,” added Mrs. Yale.

Cyclists Using Sidewalks Leaves Blind Woman Scared for Safety:

‘We haven’t met anyone who has apologized . they’re not concerned,’ says Janis Brackman
By Laura Glowacki,
CBC News, June 6, 2016.

A blind woman says she can’t go for a walk without feeling threatened by cyclists zipping past her on the sidewalk in Winnipeg. Janis Brackman lives in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village area. Every time she steps out her front door, she has to be just as on guard for bikes.

Her walks have turned into “worrying about what’s coming behind me or towards me.” “Now that I’ve got to listen for the bikes I don’t concentrate as well on the cane and the traffic sounds,” she said.

Canadian Transportation Agency Launches Consultation on Accessible Transportation as Phase 1 of Its Regulatory Modernization Initiative

June 6, 2016
Gatineau, QC Canadian Transportation Agency

As part of the Regulatory Modernization Initiative announced last week, the Agency is launching the first phase of its regulatory review, which focusses on accessible transportation.

To advance this initiative, the Agency will be meeting with its Accessibility Advisory Committee on June 20, 2016, and will be asking for input from persons with disabilities, transportation service providers and all interested Canadians on how regulatory measures can help make the federal transportation network accessible for persons with disabilities. Interested parties have until September 30, 2016, to submit comments at A discussion paper on accessible transportation is available.

System Abuses Make Booking a Flight With a Service Dog a Frustrating Ordeal

A woman who travels with a service dog says booking flights has become unnecessarily tedious. Alesia Fieldberg has her story

Ryan White , Reporter/Producer
Published Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Vancouver Island resident who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) says WestJet’s current booking procedure places additional stress on some passengers who require accessible travel.

Joanne Trofanenko, a former paramedic, travels with her service dog Linka at her side. During the booking of five recent flights, Trofanenko says she has spent, on average, two hours on the phone with WestJet staff attempting to correct misunderstandings related to Linka’s role.

Groundbreaking Settlement to End Discrimination Against Blind Uber Riders Who Use Guide Dogs

Apr 30, 2016

BERKELEY, Calif., April 30, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In an unprecedented settlement announced today, Uber has agreed to take affirmative steps to prevent discrimination against blind riders who use guide dogs in its transportation network across the United States.

The settlement resolves a lawsuitNational Federation of the Blind of California, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc.brought by the National Federation of the Blind, its California affiliate, and individuals who use guide dogs, to ensure that guide-dog users have full and equal access to vehicles in the Uber network. This is the first nationwide class-action settlement of its kind against an app-based transportation network company.