Monday, December 18, 2017

Ramp access

Eagle Scouts volunteer for access in Memphis

By Tim Wheat
Eagle Scout Candidates help with the ramp
Over the weekend MCIL helped to provide needed access to one Memphian. The credit for this actually goes to local Eagle Scout volunteers who saw a need and provided all the labor to make a real difference in our community.

MATA had threatened to cut off service to a customer because they felt her ramp was dangerous. The ramp had wear and did not include a “curb rail” that would prevent her from possibly rolling off the ramp surface and under the handrail. 

The local boy scouts, candidates for Eagle Scout, raised money for new materials for the ramp. They also designed a new structure that would be safer and solid for long-term use. MATA made MCIL aware of the problem and we put the Eagle Scouts in touch with the resident in Memphis.

MCIL and the Scouts are planning to coordinate on more of these projects and we expect that not only will the projects be helpful to people with disabilities in Memphis, but also helpful to the Eagle Scouts. This is one of the areas where there is a clear benefit to the community, and completely financed by the gifts and kindness of neighbors and friends.

The project was not easy. The Eagle Scouts used the good materials existing to build a strong structure. They cut and replaced all of the surface to be treated boards. This creates a solid surface that will not hold water and prevents the buildup of dirt. It is a lot stronger than the original ramp and will be good for a long time.

MCIL has a minor home modification program, but it has limited funds and must seek approval from the City of Memphis in a process that takes months. MCIL is looking to improve that program that is needed in Memphis.

Eagle Scout Candidates help with the ramp

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Transit and paratransit in Memphis

Take the Transportation Survey that is part of Memphis 3.0

The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires accessibility in public transportation. In the past two decades since passage of the ADA, some progress has been made; however transportation options for people with disabilities remain unacceptably limited.  Mia R. Oberlink, reported in “Opportunities for Creating Livable Communities,” that of the nearly 2 million people with disabilities who never leave their homes, 560,000 never leave home because of transportation difficulties. 

Transportation and mobility play key roles in the struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity in the disability community. Affordable and reliable transportation allows people with disabilities access to important opportunities in education, employment, health care, housing, and community life.

Even though paratransit services are provided to people with disabilities in Memphis, problems still persist.  Restrictive eligibility criteria, unfair trip denials, tardiness, failure to show-up for a ride, slow service in route, drivers’ lack of respect for users and inefficient and unfriendly telephone reservation systems. The paratransit system administration also provides inaccurate information, fails to respond to complaints, provides inadequate training for drivers and uses punitive cancellation policies.  As a community we cannot and should not be expected to depend solely on the paratransit system to travel in Memphis. 

People with disabilities in Memphis need more accessible, affordable transportation options that bring employment, health care, education, housing, and community life within reach. It is important that the disability community continue show up the way we did during the last Memphis 3.0 survey period which took place earlier this fall.  Our concerns about the current state and future of public transportation in Memphis were ranked third with more than 30 people responding to the survey. 

 As a community of bus riders with and without disabilities, we will have to make decisions that will not only impact our transportation needs in the years ahead, but the bus riders for decades to come.  One of the key questions this report examines is if we want buses to run more frequently or do we want more neighborhoods covered. 
To read the complete report or become an ambassador for a Memphis 3.0 event you can visit: 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pizza with Planners: Affordable Housing

Housing Trust Funds may help Memphis

By: Timothy Redd
Timothy Redd
On Tuesday November 14, 2017 I attended Pizza with Planners. The topic was affordable housing. There was a robust conversation about housing disparity and affordable housing in Memphis.

Justin Entzminger from Innovate Memphis walked us through the landscape the challenges Memphis faces. Some key things form the 2017 American Community Survey were:

  • Memphis has lost the highest amount of affordable housing nationally.
  • There are more renters than homeowners here, 53 % of people here rent which is an 11% increase.  
  • Research shows a correlation between housing and poor out comes related to mental and physical health, family stability, neighborhood sustainability
  • Low home ownership, low home values, and high vacancy add to high cost burden.

Michael Anderson, Center for Community Change Director told us about how housing trust funds could address and remedy the need for affordable housing. Housing trust funds are distinct funds established by city, county or state governments that receive ongoing dedicated sources of public funding to support the preservation and production of affordable housing. Housing trust funds can increase opportunities for families and individuals to access decent affordable homes. 

Today more than 770 housing trust funds have been established across 47 states contributing a 1.2 billion dollar revenue. Nashville has established one as well as Knoxville and it has helped people attain affordable housing. 

I think this is a great initiative we learned in many cities voters went to the ballot box and voted measured for affordable housing. I left the meeting thinking this could be a push in the right direction but I also was left wondering how we make housing trust funds happen here. To learn more about this initiative check out

Friday, November 10, 2017

Disability Awareness Committee

 Access and Abilities

By Christina Clift
On Thursday, November 9, 2017 the members of the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities (MACCD) Disability Awareness Committee met to begin working on meeting their goals for 2018.  The committee established two main goals during the strategic planning meeting held back in August.  They include Holding a city-wide conference and creating a media and social media campaign that will emphasize the strengths and abilities of Memphians with disabilities.  

The committee also plans to work on improving the disaster preparedness policies in our city by looking at ways to improve communication during the event to all persons with disabilities.  Besides performing a postmortem of our Lifecare Planning Seminar, the committee worked to create action steps to begin planning a city-wide event in 2018.  We decided to table the media and social media campaign action plan until our January meeting.

The committee decided to hold the city-wide conference focusing on Access and Abilities either on September 19th or 26th of 2018.  The committee plans to ensure that this event is as hands-on and interactive as possible.  Some of the ideas for the event will include an assistive technology fair.  This event would not only demonstrate new devices or software that enable people with disabilities to do everyday activities, but also educating the public about the latest advancements in technology so that they can make informed choices.  

Our second area will be adaptive sports.  Again, not only will there be demonstrations but also an educational component about how to create adaptive sports programs in our community.  Next, we plan to have an obstacle course to simulate various types of disabilities.  This activity will provide attendees the opportunity to experience briefly how people with disabilities do everyday things like buttoning a shirt with one hand or getting something from a high shelf while seated in a wheelchair.  Finally, we will have several panel discussions related to the various activity areas.  While this event is not finalized, we hope to have a location and date nailed down by December 15, 2017 and will begin publicizing it by the end of January.

The next meeting of the Disability Awareness Committee is scheduled for January 11, 2018 from 1:00-2:30 PM.  If you’d like more information on how to join the committee or would like to provide input, please e-mail Christina Clift, the committee’s chair at or call (901) 726-6404 ext. 108.