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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative Application Development Awards

Sept 12, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded six application development research contracts, totaling $6.185 million* for a period of performance through FY 2019, under its Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) to improve mobility options for all travelers, particularly those with disabilities.

ATTRI is a multimodal departmental effort that has been at the leading edge of identifying and developing transformative transportation applications for all disabilities. “ATTRI’s success depends on working cooperatively with other agencies as well as the private sector,” said Michael F. Trentacoste, Associate Administrator for Research, Development and Technology; Director, Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center. “We recognize the interdisciplinary nature of accessible transportation research and actively seek opportunities to leverage resources, accomplishments, and knowledge advances both within the USDOT and across federal agencies. We can’t do this alone.”

Metro to Launch Abilities-Ride Program to Encourage Accessible Taxi Use as Alternative to MetroAccess in Maryland

Originally posted Sept. 6, 2017

MetroAccess customers will have a new, more flexible option for travel within Maryland with the launch of the Abilities-Ride program on Monday, September 18.

The new program offers an alternative to MetroAccess service by allowing eligible customers to use on-demand taxi services–without sharing a ride–at a discounted rate.

The Abilities-Ride program offers subsidized rides in partnership with Regency Taxi and Silver Cab. Eligible MetroAccess customers can request transportation through these providers for any trip that begins and ends within the MetroAccess service area in Maryland. Riders can request their trip in advance by calling the taxi company directly, or through their respective websites or smartphone apps.

Uber Discriminates Against Riders With Disabilities, Class-Action Suit Says

By WINNIE HU
New York Times, July 19, 2017

All around Valerie Joseph, there is a fleet of Uber cars rolling by on New York City streets.

But though she could really use the ride-hailing app, Ms. Joseph said she does not bother because Uber has so few wheelchair-accessible cars to dispatch. “It’s plain unfair,” said Ms. Joseph, 41, who relies on a wheelchair.

Now, Ms. Joseph is part of a class-action lawsuit accusing Uber of discriminating against New York City riders with disabilities by providing scant access to wheelchair-accessible cars at a time when ride-hailing apps are becoming a common alternative to public transit in the city. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan by Disability Rights Advocates, a nonprofit organization.

Canadian Transportation Agency issues What We Heard Summary Report on accessible transportation

GATINEAU, QC, June 1, 2017
CNW

As part of the Regulatory Modernization Initiative, the Canadian Transportation Agency has issued a What We Heard Summary Report for its first phase of consultations on accessible transportation. The report highlights the key points that have emerged so far, such as the need for a clear, relevant and comprehensive set of rules for all modes of transport, and for those rules to be expressed in mandatory regulations rather than voluntary codes.

The accessibility needs of Canadians are varied and are increasing as the population ages and the percentage of Canadians with disabilities continues to grow. In a recent Government of Canada consultation on creating new national accessibility legislation, participants ranked transportation as third among key areas of focus for the Government of Canada.

Federal Court Dismisses VIA Rail Appeal on Couples With Mobility Scooters Travelling Together

Order means railway must expand mobility device spaces or prove doing so causes ‘undue hardship’ By Shanifa Nasser
CBC News Posted: Apr 30, 2017

Martin Anderson and Marie Murphy say they have long been working to get additional tie-down spaces for scooters and wheelchairs on VIA trains and are tired of waiting for the railway to act.

The Federal Court has dismissed an appeal by VIA Rail of a decision that would make it possible for a Toronto couple who rely on wheelchairs and scooters to travel together on a single train.

Lyft and the National Federation of the Blind Announce Comprehensive Accessibility Improvements for Lyft Riders Who Travel with Service Animals

Lyft and the National Federation of the Blind today announced a collaborative effort to ensure reliable and equal service to individuals who are blind and use service animals.

Lyft’s affirmative and proactive efforts will help ensure its convenient and affordable transportation services are available to riders who are blind and use service animals across the United States.

As part of that effort, Lyft today kicked off the company’s first Service Animal Month, which is part of a multi-pronged initiative to ensure that all individuals with disabilities who travel with service animals on the Lyft platform can fully enjoy the benefits of connecting with drivers through the Lyft app.

Toyota Develops WelWalk Robotic Brace to Aid in Rehabilitation of Stroke Patients

Anna Domanska , April 13, 2017

On Wednesday, Toyota launched a new robotic leg brace called the WelWalk WW-1000. The robotic exoframe is designed to help patients with partial paralysis walk again. The device is worn on the affected leg, with a large motor component at the knee joint that helps with functions such as supporting body weights and assisting with movements such as swinging the leg forward.

The WelWalk WW-1000 system will be made available to medical institutions in Japan later this year, with a rental model that charges a one-time fee of $9,000 and later $3,200 after that on a monthly basis.

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.
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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
By MICHAEL TARM
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.”