Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Expectations for 2017

The MCIL Planning Calendar

Here is what you can expect at MCIL next year. The planning committee has produced this planning calendar of all the things we plan to bring to you next year. This calendar may not have details at this time, but it will give you an idea of what we have planned. What ideas do you have? Write us or put your suggestion in the comments. Thanks everyone and thanks to Christina for the list. -Tim Wheat
 

January 2017

January 18, 2017
2PM How to ride MATAPlus - Tips from riders.


February 2017

February 8, 2017
Disability Day on the Hill  
February 17, 2017  
Volunteer Appreciation event, Staff to provide meal for volunteers.
Also in February:
Community forum on Couponing
       

March 2017    

March 3, 2017
POP Fish Fry from 11:00-7:00 PM
Also in March:
Managing your Attendant


April 2017   

Fair Housing for People with Disabilities
Community Forum on Art



May 2017   

Workshop on Visitability
MACCD Summit

June 2017

June 6-9, 2017   
Youth Leadership Academy       

June 12-23, 2017Bell (Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning) Academy 


July 2017

July 21, 2017   
Assistive Technology Fair (at Benjamin Hooks Central Library)
July 26, 2017:

ADA Celebration



August 2017   

Workshop on relationships and sex
Speed Dating



September 2017    

Transportation focusing on the fixed route


October 2017   

Deborah Cunningham Awards Fundraiser


November 2017

November 17, 2017   
POP Thanksgiving Potluck

December 2017

December 1, 2017       
Silent Auction

Friday, December 16, 2016

Letter to MATAplus

Allison Donald shares her complaint about Memphis Paratransit 


Dear MATAplus:
As a taxpaying citizen of Memphis.  I am extremely displeased with the level of service offered by MATAplus over the last two weeks.  I frequently use public transportation to get around Memphis as well as during my daily commute to and from work.  


On December 6th I was scheduled to be picked up at 7:46 am. The bus did not arrive at my residence until 8:40.  I tried calling dispatch multiple times to check on my ride and was sent to voicemail each time.  On this particular day as I boarded the bus the driver asked me:  

“did the dispatcher call me and let me know that my bus was going to be late?”  

I did not receive a call from a dispatcher about the status of my ride or a possible arrival time. 
 
Due to the irregularity of the service that MATAplus has provided I am often forced to rely on other forms of transportation that are not very cost effective for me.  Over the last week alone I had to request a Lyft ride because I did not trust MATAplus.  I eventually had to cancel those rides, because MATAplus and Lyft arrived at the same time.  Even though I chose MATAplus I still had to pay a five dollar cancellation fee.  


When I call to inquire about the status of my ride I was placed on hold in the queue and eventually sent to voicemail.  I would like to know what my recourse is when the phone system at MATAplus fails and why is there not a sufficient back up plan when such incidences occur?
 

I hope that you will take my complaint into consideration. Many people suffer under the deterioration of public transportation and paratransit in Memphis, and many of them are as inconvenienced as I am.  If you question my claims, I suggest you attempt to ride to work on one of your own buses for an entire month. Then you may see how frustrating it is to be late for work because of an unreliable MATAplus paratransit system.
Allison Donald

I would greatly appreciate hearing your plans for improving the bus system Thank you very much for your time.


Sincerely,
Allison Donald

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Memphis needs the Crosstown 31

Bring It Back! Historic bus route is the backbone of Memphis transit

Allison Donald
By Allison Donald
Memphis Bus Riders’ Union (MBRU) has vowed to keep the pressure on MATA and fight to restore the Crosstown 31 bus route. The effort to bring back the 31 rolls on and MBRU is asking for everyone in Memphis to help.


Prior to the elimination of the Crosstown 31, it was Memphis’ third highest used bus route, with an average of 2,600 riders daily.  The route was just behind the Route 43 Elvis Presley bus, which funneled 2,700 riders between the heart of the city and South Memphis.


This month’s MBRU meeting focused on continuing the conversation with city officials and the MATA administration. MBRU is asking them to act now and give them back the Crosstown 31. The bus route serves many poor, people of color, and people with disabilities in Memphis. 


MBRU continues to push for more signatures on Bring Back the 31 Petition with a community luncheon on January 14, 2017 to be held at the Cossitt Library from 12-2pm.  You are invited to come out and let the city leaders know how much the Crosstown 31 bus route is still needed in our community. 
 

Tuesday January 17th MBRU members will be attending the budgetary committee meeting which starts at 8:AM and the city council meeting starts that day at 3:30.  During the meeting MBRU members will present the petition in support of the 31.  If you can attend either meeting it would be greatly appreciated.  

Memphis Bus Riders Union: mbru.org
Sign the Petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/petition-bring-back-the-31-crosstown


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

US Election Assistance Commission wants to hear from you

Share your experience with access at the polls

Man in ADA shirt stands by a Vote Here sign

The EAC wants to hear from voters with disabilities about their experience on Election Day or during early voting. The federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is intended to ensure everyone can vote privately and independently. That means not only access to the polling locations, but have voting equipment that is accessible.

HAVA contained landmark provisions requiring the secure, private, and independent casting of ballots for voters with disabilities. During the past twelve years, the EAC has worked closely with election officials to promote these access requirements and to foster a climate of understanding in providing assistance for voters with disabilities. 

What was your visit to the polls like? The EAC is asking to hear about your experience, good or bad. The EAC looks forward to leading further initiatives that will improve accessibility and empower voters with disabilities.

Although they pride themselves on accessibility, the EAC only gives an email address to “listen” to your experience: listen@eac.gov.

MCIL encourages you to participate, write your experience as a comment to this blog piece to let others know how you feel. If you don’t think email is accessible to you, MCIL staff will listen and send your comments along to the EAC; with your permission.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

General Help with MATAplus

How to file an effective complaint with MATAplus


MATA bus operator
By Timothy Redd and Bobbie Fields
Day in and out the phones constantly ring with people seeking transportation options.  MATAplus is not perfect, but it does not mean you should be silent. You can help MATAplus improve and work for other riders if you make suggestions and complaints about your experience on the bus.


This week MCIL wants to make sure you are able to exercise self-advocacy in transportation. If you find yourself with a grievance or suggestion for our partner MATAplus, we want you to review what will make an effective complaint. The information provided can be found in the MATAplus Rider’s Guide.  

If you have a suggestion, comment or a complaint use the following steps.
  1. Call a Customer Service Specialist at 522-9175.
  2. If you wish you can write: MATAplus 1370 Levee Road Memphis, TN 38108
  3. Provide specific details to help MATA thoroughly address your suggestions, complaints or comments. Please remember to include the following information if you can when calling or writing:
    • Your name, address, email and telephone number.
    • Location, date and time of experience.
    • Vehicle number and driver's name or badge number.
    • Reservation or service agent's name.
    • Explanation of incident, suggestion, or comment.
    • If at all possible report the concern or complaint the same day that it occurred while it is fresh on your mind.
  4. Complaints received by the Information Center Supervisor should be logged and numbered. MATA says the complaints will be processed and forwarded to the appropriate authorities for investigation.
  5. Keep a copy of your complaint so you may know if it was fully addressed by MATA or if they responded to the appropriate issue.
  6. MATA Customers should always ask for a complaint number. Write the complaint number down to track your complaint.
  7. For specific paratransit customer support services, you may contact either: Glenda Wade at 901-722-7196 or LaBarbara Houston at 901-722-7138
  8. You can also e-mail MATA at: mpluscertification@matatransit.com
  9. Tell MCIL about your experience. Let us know good or bad how the suggestions to MATA go. It may help other riders and people with disabilities to know that they are not the only people having trouble. You may leave a comment on our Blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Clift’s Notes

Highlights from the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities

Christina Clift
By Christina Clift
The Housing, Accessibility, and Recreation committee is busy working to amend the city of Memphis ordinance that was passed two years ago that ensures all newly built single-family housing be visitable. Visitability is a no-step entrance to a home and all doorways must be at least 32 inches wide. 

This ordinance is often refereed to as the Visit Ability Ordinance.   The committee hopes to amend the ordinance to include a usable bathroom on the first floor also.  To get more information on how you can become involved with this committee please contact chairperson: Louis Patrick via e-mail at lpat@aol.com.

The Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities Employment and Education Committee was proud to partner with Shelby County Schools to make this year's Disability Mentoring Day a success.  This has been the best year since the beginning of observing Disability Mentoring Day with 500 high school students and 39 companies participating in the event. 

DMD was held on Wednesday October 26, 2016 and students from across Shelby County were given the opportunity to get a glimpse at possible jobs.  Companies that participated in this year's Disability Mentoring Day included: Marshall's, Gordon’s Body Shop, Goodwill Industries, Memphis Humane Society, Palazola Produce, Deaf Connect, At Home, Incredible Pizza, FedEx Ground, Lit Restaurant Supply Co., Hicks Convention Service, Spring Creek Ranch, Medtronic, Memphis Zoo, Marriot Hotel, Ave' Maria House, Hilton Hotel Memphis, Sam’s Club, Well Child, WalMart, Workforce Investment Network, Shelby County Schools Telecommunications, WMC TV, Sweet Potato Baby Cafe, 6 Home Depot locations, 5 Lowe’s locations, 2 Nike locations, and 2 Memphis Redbirds areas.

A big thanks to those companies who've partnered for this event since the beginning and welcome aboard to those companies who participated for the first time.  To become a part of this committee please contact chairperson: Veronica MacKinney via e-mail at vmac@utk.edu.

The Disability Awareness Committee is currently awaiting official approval of a new brochure that will inform individuals about who and what the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities is and does.  They are also currently developing a town hall listening tour to provide information about existing policies that impact people with disabilities and to gather feedback from the community about problems they encounter in their everyday lives.  The town hall meetings will be held at locations around the city to ensure maximum participation and input by the disability community.  For more information contact chairperson: Christina Clift via e-mail at christina@mcil.org.

The Transportation committee is working with MATA to begin gathering information and reports on how MATA is doing.  They will look at performance indicators such as on-time performance, hold times, late trips, and more. This partnership is new but exciting to watch.  To become involved with this committee contact Chairperson: Louis Patrick via e-mail at lpat@aol.com.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Apply to Advise MATA by Friday

MATA to select members of the Transit Advisory Committee


By Tim Wheat
MATA operator at the bus door
MATA is looking to riders to advise on system changes starting 2017. The Transportation Advisory Committee will work with MATA staff to provide feedback on the quality of MATA’s transit planning, service delivery, and operations.

MATA claims that people with disabilities will be on TAC and they will include MATAplus riders and explore ADA issues. The committee will be comprised of eleven members, and will meet at least four times a year. Each member will serve for a year, and will have an opportunity to re-apply to serve for a maximum of five terms.

TAC has no real authority and does not set regulations or policy. Volunteer TAC members will make recommendations to MATA staff for solutions to problems that are identified and acting as a sounding board for policies and plans.

MATA asks that to apply you should read the TAC Bylaws. The applications to MATA may be submitted in person or via US mail to MATA headquarters at: Memphis Area Transit Authority, Attn: TAC Application, 1370 Levee Rd. Memphis, TN 38108. Applications may also be submitted to the customer service desk at any of MATA’s three main transit centers during normal customer service hours, or via email to TAC@matatransit.com. All applications must be submitted or postmarked no later than Friday, December 2, 2016.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Low-cost Internet

MCIL is aware of one program to help eligible households get low-cost web service.


By Michael Heinrich
AT&T is offering low-cost wireline home Internet service to qualifying households:
Michael Heinrich


  • With at least one resident who participates in the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and
  • With an address in AT&T’s 21-state service area, at which we offer wireline home Internet service, and
  • Without outstanding debt for AT&T fixed Internet service within the last six months or outstanding debt incurred under this program.
Find out more at https://www.att.com/shop/internet/access/#/ 

If you qualify, you will pay either $5 or $10 per month (depending on the speed available at your residence). The offer includes: 
  • No commitment, 
  • No deposit, 
  • No installation fee, 
  • In-home Wi-Fi gateway and access to the entire national AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spot network, 
  • No equipment rental.
If the residence already has AT&T internet, you can still get the lower rate by switching to this program.

It appears that this offer is real. One friend of MCIL who met the qualifications and already had AT&T internet service made the switch and not only got cost savings but also a faster internet connection at the same time. Another friend of MCIL who did not have internet service at all signed up for the program. She verified that there was no charge for the installation and equipment and now has internet service in her home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Access to the movies

USDOJ finalizes rules for theaters and captioning




People looking at a movie screenBy Tim Wheat
Earlier this week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed a final rule related to closed movie captioning and audio description that will enable people with hearing and vision disabilities to have access to movies. The new rule revises the Justice Department's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III regulation to further clarify a public accommodations obligation to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for people with disabilities.

The Final Rule requires movie theaters to: (1) have and maintain the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description at a movie patron’s seat whenever showing a digital movie produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features; (2) provide notice to the public about the availability of these features; and (3) ensure that theater staff is available to assist patrons with the equipment before, during, and after the showing of a movie with these features.

The rule does not require all theaters to provide captioning. Only certain movie theaters that contain one or more auditoriums that are used primarily for the purpose of showing movies to the public for a fee. The specific requirements of this rule, however, do not apply to any movie theater that shows only analog movies in all of its auditoriums. IMAX produced movies are typically “analog” and do not have description or caption tracks. Additionally, drive-in theaters are excluded in the definition.

Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations, including movie theaters, to provide effective communication through the use of auxiliary aids and services.  This rulemaking specifies requirements that movie theaters must meet to satisfy their effective communication obligations to people with hearing and vision disabilities unless compliance results in an undue burden or a fundamental alteration. A single auditorium should have 4 captioning devices and a multiplex should have increasingly more so that a sixteen screen theater would have at least a dozen captioning devices. Description devices are less frequent. One description device for a single screen and at least eight for a 16 screen multiplex.

An advance copy of the final rule, as well as an FAQ on the rule, are available on the Department's ADA website. The Department intends to publish the final rule in the Federal Register in the near future, and the final rule will take effect 45 days after publication. For more information about this rule, please visit the Department's ADA website (www.ada.gov) or call the ADA Information Line: Voice: 1-800-514-0301; TTY: 1-800-514-3083.




Monday, November 21, 2016

The Great Gathering-In

A Call for Washington Seminar for the NFB


Christina Clift of M C I L By Christina Clift
At 5:00 PM on Monday January 30, 2017 members of the Memphis chapter of the National Federation of the Blind along with more than 500 of their fellow Federationists will once again come together for the Great Gathering-In at the Capitol Holiday Inn in Washington D.C. The Great Gathering-In serves as the opening session for the NFB’s Washington Seminar. 

The Washington Seminar is an annual event of the National Federation of the Blind which introduces the agenda of blind Americans, as well as the  priority issues requiring congressional attention over the coming year. The issues are selected from official positions of the Federation and may address concerns in the following areas: relevant civil rights issues; educational programs and services; rehabilitation of people who are blind for competitive employment; the operation of vending facilities by people who are blind on public property; specialized library services for the blind; the organization and funding of federal programs; Social Security and Supplemental Income programs; and other timely topics. Approximately three legislative initiatives are chosen for priority attention during the Washington Seminar.

During this three day period members of the Tennessee delegation will learn about and advocate for initiatives that will improve the lives of blind Americans.  Participants will learn how to talk with their local Congressman and Senators about issues on the NFB’s legislative agenda and about bad public policies that attempt to relegate the Blind to second-class citizenship. 

NFB members will swarm Capitol Hill to speak with Tennessee legislators about their concerns and demand the Congress member sponsor legislation that will benefit the Blind.  Some of the issues addressed during previous Washington Seminars included the Quiet Car Initiative, Technology, Education  and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act, and the Space Available Act. So far, the priority legislative issues for 2017 have not been released but more information can be found by visiting http://www.nfb.org.

“Washington Seminar demonstrates the power of the Blind as a collective voice for change,” said NFB of Tennessee President James Brown.  “It’s a powerful sound hearing hundreds of white canes tapping their way around Capitol Hill.” We invite anyone who is interested in advancing the cause of Americans who are blind, to join us from January 30th to February 2, 2017 in D.C.  We hope to see you at our Great Gathering-In, so you can become a part of creating change in the lives of the Blind.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Memphis Center for Independent Living believes the in using “people first” language. Often you will note in this article “the Blind” and "Blind people" are used in an apparent contradiction to the strict person-first ideal. MCIL recognizes cultural exceptions to the people first guide. You may be familiar with "Deaf" with a capital D used by most people who are deaf. The capital “D” denotes a cultural identity surrounding a signed language and a set of cultural norms separate from the mainstream local culture. People who are deaf who capitalize the D see their deafness as more than just a physiological state, also as an identity. The same applies for people who are deaf-blind and for some people who are blind who, while sharing a language in common with the mainstream, may feel necessary assert a specific community identity.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Clift Notes

By Christina Clift

November, 2016

Peope in a meeting

Here are some of the highlights on what the committees of the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities have been doing during the past two months.

The MACCD Housing, Accessibility, and Recreation committee is busy working to amend the city of Memphis ordinance that was passed two years ago that ensures all newly built housing must have: one no-step entrance and that all doorways must be 32 inches wide.  This ordinance is often refereed to as the Visitability Ordinance.  The ordinance would be amended to include a usable bathroom as defined by the Fair Housing Act.  To get more information on how you can become involved with this committee please contact chairperson: Louis Patrick via e-mail at lpat@aol.com.

The Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities Employment and Education Committee was proud to partner with Shelby County Schools to make this year's Disability Mentoring Day a success.  This has been the best year since the beginning of observing Disability Mentoring Day with 500 high school students and 39 companies participating in the event. 

DMD was held on Wednesday October 26, 2016 and students from across Shelby County were given the opportunity to get a glimpse at possible jobs.  Companies that participated in this year's Disability Mentoring Day included: Marshall's, Gordon’s Body Shop, Goodwill Industries, Memphis Humane Society, Palazola Produce, Deaf Connect, At Home, Incredible Pizza, FedEx Ground, Lit Restaurant Supply Co., Hicks Convention Service, Spring Creek Ranch, Medtronic, Memphis Zoo, Marriot Hotel, Ave' Maria House, Hilton Hotel Memphis, Sam’s Club, Well Child, WalMart, Workforce Investment Network, Shelby County Schools Telecommunications, WMC TV, Sweet Potato Baby Cafe, 6 Home Depot locations, 5 Lowe’s locations, 2 Nike locations, and 2 Memphis Redbirds areas.


A big thanks to those companies who've partnered for this event since the beginning and welcome aboard to those companies who participated for the first time.  To become a part of this committee please contact chairperson: Veronica MacKinney via e-mail at vmac@utk.edu.

The Disability Awareness Committee is currently awaiting official approval of a new brochure that will inform individuals about who and what the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities is and does.  They are also currently developing a town hall listening tour to provide information about existing policies that impact people with disabilities and to gather feedback from the community about problems they encounter in their everyday lives.  The town hall meetings will be held at locations around the city to ensure maximum participation and input by the disability community.  For more information contact chairperson: Christina Clift via e-mail at christina@mcil.org.

The Transportation committee is working with MATA to begin gathering information and reports on how MATA is doing.  They will look at performance indicators such as on-time performance, hold times, late trips, etc.  This partnership is new but exciting to watch.  To become involved with this committee contact Chairperson: Louis Patrick via e-mail at lpat@aol.com.

Christina Clift

Christina Clift reports regularly about the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities for the Memphis Center for Independent Living.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sidewalk Repair Downtown

Walkability is a synonym for accessibility


By Tim Wheat

The sidewalk repair program downtown does not seem to use the Americans with Disabilities Act to justify spending money to make the city more accessible. The draft submitted to the Downtown Memphis Commission last night mentions safety, appearance and property values but does not talk about access or the ADA.


No-interest loans for sidewalk repair are available from the Downtown Memphis Commission board with a non-refundable seventy-five dollar fee. Downtown Memphis approved a $50,000 revolving loan fund to repair sidewalks from A.W. Willis on the north to M.L. King Boulevard on the south, west of Danny Thomas. The loans are limited to $5,000, but are expected to average about $1,000 and will be available through June 30, 2019.


A recent blight survey found more than 90 parcels that appear to violate city standards for sidewalks. The City of Memphis Ordinance makes property owners responsible for maintaining the sidewalk on their property. Memphis officials believe an incentive would entice owners to do the right thing and improve the walkability of downtown.


Following is a link to the Board Review Draft of the proposal with the application and map.


http://www.downtownmemphiscommission.com/sites/526/uploaded/files/SRL_Program_Board_Review_Draft_111616.pdf

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Effective Meetings

By Timothy Redd
At MCIL it’s all about Advocacy in Action. Ned Solomon, director of TN Partners in Policy making, led a training at the center today about effective meetings. Partners in Policymaking is the Council’s leadership and advocacy training program for adults with disabilities and family members of persons with disabilities. The Council established the Partners in Policymaking™ program in TN in 1992. Since that time, more than 500 adults with disabilities and family members with disabilities have completed the intensive program; these graduates have gone on to advocate for themselves, their family members and the disability community at large, and to influence policies on the local, state and national level.

If you are like me I’m sure you have attended a meeting where nothing was accomplished and it was a total waste of times. Did you know that everyone in a meeting has role to play and to be empowered.? When conducting a meeting its best to strive for an effective meeting.  Effective meetings have to the following components:

  • More work is accomplished
  • All are heard
  • All parties needed for meeting are present
  • The agenda is followed.
Some things can throw off a meeting and prevent it from being effective would the agenda not being followed, time limit is ignored, ineffectual facilitation, and not enough information provided for those present to make a decisions.  Some things that can help ensure and effective meeting would be an agenda presented before the meeting, having ground rules set in place, not speaking over each other. As a participant if the meeting is off track speak up, speak to the facilitator about future meetings if you feel comfortable and when possible ask for an email to avoid the meeting all together. Hopefully these tips have empowered you with some things you should know and that can help you when it comes to effectual meetings.

For more information, contact Ned Andrew Solomon at ned.solomon@tn.gov or by phone at 615.532.6556.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

November MATAplus Report

The Monthly MATAplus run down

MATA operator at the door of a bus



By Bobbie Fields
The members of the Memphis Specialized Transportation Advisory Committee met with representatives of MATAplus regarding their performance rate and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically the ADA rule of communication and supplying materials in an alternate format for MATA riders. Ms. LaBarbara Houston and Ms. Glenda Wade said MATA now has the Rider’s Guide in braille, large print, and audio available upon request. You can find it on the MATA website as well. MATAplus is teaming up with MTAC to work on how the application process is being handle when it comes to a professional signing off on it.


The application on-line asks potential MATAplus riders if they can “climb three ten-foot steps.” The confusion is because the application question is abbreviated: 10’ when they intended to write 10” the abbreviation for ten inches. But the real frustration is that this simple mistake was pointed out to MATA over a year ago. The additional irony is that the application asks, in all caps and highlighted: DO NOT USE ABBREVIATIONS OR CODES. See the MATAplus application for yourself at: http://www.matatransit.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/MATAplus%20Application%202014.pdf


Ms. Wade made the comment that MATAplus is operating at a 90% on time rate and booking about 700 trips a day. If you are a rider of MATAplus and you are late for your appointment, you can call dispatch and ask to be put on “Will Call.” Will call simply means that you will call MATA when you’re ready to be picked up. You should also know that it might take at least an hour or more before you are picked up.


Ms. Houston said as of November 1, 2016 they have started to offer travel training to anyone who asks for it. They are also in the process of getting some more buses and hiring new drivers.


Even though MATA is trying to make changes in the way they handle business; the MATAplus riders feel they are still not meeting the needs of the disabled community. Buses are still “running down,” MATA terminology for running late for the names on their manifest, more than an hour. Some riders MATAplus doesn't pick-up at all. Despite all the problems with MATA they are still the best paratransit system that Memphis has to offer. If you want to know more about MATAplus just visit their website: www.matatransit.com.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Accessible Memphis I Want in My Future

The MCIL Essay Contest winning entry.

 

Mayor Strickland with Savannah Morris
By Savannah Morris
If there is ever going to be a place for people with disabilities in Memphis Tennessee, Memphis has to think more than one way. Right now it’s only thinking able body. Memphis has to include all people, all races, because it will never be a city without people with disabilities, no state will, because babies are being born everyday with a disability.

So when it comes to having the city accessible, Memphis has to think out of the box. Memphis has to be ready for the unexpected. What I mean by this is:

  1. Have an architect to do a blueprint for accessible housing for the future.
  2. Go to other cities or states to see how they keep their transportation up and running and don’t be afraid to spend money for something that will benefit people with disabilities in the present and future.
  3. Get helpful hints from people with disabilities.

Memphis has come a long way, but falling behind when it comes to people with disabilities and the accessibility that will help them be more independent. Let’s make this a better Memphis by working together with one another. Everyone has a dream, let’s make the dream come true for people with disabilities.

Activists protest the inaccessible Wharton Law Firm

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ADAPT Diary Day 1

Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children & Judge Rotenberg Center



Allison Donald
By Allison Donald
Two hundred members of National ADAPT traveled to Canton, Massachusetts on Halloween to visit the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children and the Judge Rotenberg Center.  Both facilities have much in common.  Both facilities are surrounded by picturesque neighborhoods.

The Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children and the Judge Rotenberg Center are isolated and controlled.   In the case of the Judge Rotenberg Center allegations of abuse have been made for years and they have used electric shock on people.  The children locked away are out of sight, out of mind. These young children and adults are seemingly forgotten because they are in a “safe” environment with professionals who could watch them so the neighbors can sleep at night.

The administrations of both facilities were caught off guard by ADAPT’s visit.  The Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children was more receptive to National ADAPT when they were informed that all we wanted was to bring the kids some candy for Halloween.  It gave members of Massachusetts ADAPT an opportunity continue to put pressure on the state to adopt budget policies that would make it possible for institutionalized children to be at home with their families. 

This was in stark contrast to the reception National ADAPT received at the Judge Rotenberg Center.  As members of National ADAPT ascended onto the front steps and packed the entrance the staff looked confused about who we were and why we didn’t line the road and protest like other groups had.  The tension between Judge Rotenberg Center employees ratcheted up once the police arrived and they realized we were not going anywhere.

ADAPT kept up constant chants.  We wanted the administration and residents alike to know that the torture of people with disabilities is egregious and should not and would be tolerated in any circumstance. 


National ADAPT put the Pappas Rehabilitation School for Children and Judge Rotenberg Center on notice. ADAPT and disability rights activists are watching and they will be held accountable for the treatment of people with disabilities. FREE OUR PEOPLE!

Look Both Ways

Pedestrian dangers for people who use wheelchairs


By Tim Redd
Tim Redd
It should come as no surprise to learn that pedestrians are being hit at an alarming rate by motorists here in Memphis. This morning, the top story on FOX13 Memphis, was a person that was struck by car on Mud Island, bringing total of pedestrians hit by cars to 7 in the last 24 hours. 

Here are few of the news stories being reported:

  • A car hit a child who was leaving a church festival on Halloween night, according to Memphis Police Department. The child was taken to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in critical condition after being hit on South Parkway near Bloomfield Baptist Church.   
  • A pedestrian was struck and killed On I-40 eastbound at Hollywood. Police spokesman Louis Brownlee said a pedestrian was pronounced dead on the scene after being hit by a truck.
  • On October 31st, three people were reportedly hit by a car in front of the Memphis Funeral Home on Germantown Parkway.
Here in midtown, wheelchair users are out daily breezing up and down the streets in bike lanes. Unfortunately we have been affected by this growing issue too. On October 3rd a bent bumper and a mangled wheelchair were visible at the scene where a man using the wheelchair was hit by a car at Windover Road and Highland Street. The man was taken to the hospital in critical condition. 

"We do have an uptick in pedestrian crashes," Memphis Police Department Lieutenant Colonel Eddie Bass said. "We don't know what's bringing all this about. We're asking drivers to use additional caution when they are driving."

Wheelchair user in the road

In May, a 39-year-old woman was arrested after police said her car hit and killed a man in a wheelchair Sunday night on E.H. Crump Boulevard near Danny Thomas.

The National Complete Streets Coalition in 2014 ranked Memphis as the nation's fifth-most-dangerous place for pedestrians, trailing only the Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville and Miami, Florida metro areas. Last year, more than 360 pedestrians were hit by cars in sometimes deadly accidents. Drivers are not paying attention and many pedestrians are not using crosswalks.  Here are some safety tips to keep you safe.


Be Safe and Be Seen: Make yourself visible to drivers:

  • Wear bright and light colored clothing and reflective materials.
  • Carry a flashlight when walking at night.
  • Cross the street in a well-lit area at night.
  • Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars, or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you.
Be smart and alert: Avoid dangerous behaviors:
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Stay sober; walking while impaired increases your chance of being struck.
  • Don't assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with drivers, don't just look at the vehicle. If a driver is on a cell phone, he or she may not be paying enough attention to drive safely.
  • Don't rely solely on pedestrian signals. Look before you cross the road.
Be Careful at Crossings: Look before you step:
  • Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections, if possible.
  • Obey traffic signals such as WALK and DON'T WALK signs.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing a street.
  • Watch for turning vehicles. Make sure the driver sees you and will stop for you.
  • Look across ALL lanes you must cross and visually clear each lane before proceeding. Even if one motorist stops, do not presume drivers in other lanes can see you and will stop for you.
  • Don't wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while crossing.
sidewalk blocked by fire hydrant

Monday, October 31, 2016

Accessing the Future

Mayor Strickland speaks at the MCIL Awards Lunch



Mayor Strickland and Savannah Morris
(MEMPHIS, Oct. 31, 2016) The Memphis Center for Independent Living honored the former MCIL Executive Director today at the annual Deborah Cunningham Access Awards Lunch. Mayor of the City of Memphis, Jim Strickland spoke at the event and highlighted the need for accessible neighborhoods.


Director of Fire Services, Gina Sweat also made and informational appeal to the crowd and detailed services to protect residents with disabilities. Andy Wise of WMC-TV 5 was the Master of Ceremonies for the lunch and quipped that Director Sweat should have thought twice about discussing budget problems in front of her boss, the Mayor.


“Firefighters are brave,” responded Director Sweat.


Lunch was served at Central Station to about seventy people starting at 11:00 am before the program. This years lunch was the second annual event and coincided with the thirty-first anniversary of the founding of MCIL. Following the Mayor’s address, Andy Wise presented the MCIL 2016 Achievement in Access to James Boehm for his work for access in rideshare transportation.
James Boehm recieves award from Sandi Klink.



James Boehm (a native Memphian) has taken a stand in August and September, on behalf of guide dog users, specifically, to spread awareness and educate communities regarding the need for Uber and other rideshare drivers to follow the law, as it pertains to service dogs. James has gone above and beyond to spend time with local law-enforcement and DA staff, in order to help them understand the impact to persons with service dogs when a Uber or rideshare driver does not allow them a ride.


James Boehm spoke briefly and was flattered by the award. He did not know Ms. Cunningham but was impressed by her bio and he mentioned Deborah and the Underground Railroad used by people with disabilities to get services in other states because Tennessee did not offer services to allow people with disabilities to move out of expensive institutions.


Mr. Wise also recognized the MCIL 2016 Essay Contest Winner: Savannah Morris who received $100 for her winning essay on the “Accessible Memphis I Want in My Future.”


“Let’s make this a better Memphis by working together with one another,” read Mr. Wise from Savannah Morris’ Essay. “Everyone has a dream, let’s make the dream come true for people with disabilities.”


Andy Wise also filled in when the Mayor forgot to present a Proclamation to MCIL recognizing October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Andy Wise read the proclamation and presented it to Sandi Klink the Executive Director of MCIL.


Finally, Ms. Klink surprised the board and staff of MCIL by asking them to come to the front of William Hudson Hall and gave them all gifts and bragged about them and the Center to the crowd. 
MCIL staff recognized.

View More photos from the MCIL event.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Demand your right to vote privately and independently!

It is Empowering to Vote

By Judy Neal
Judy Neal and two other women at the White House

I just got back from early voting and it reminded me so much about the connections between advocacy, consumer control and empowerment. The poll was staffed with very helpful people who knew little or nothing about disability.  Upon seeing the white cane that I use because of my visual impairment, I was asked if I needed to "sit down." When I got to the table for checking my registration I was asked, "Did you bring someone with you to help?"  My response was that I expected to vote independently on an accessible voting machine.  Completely ignoring what I had to say, the worker said, "then, we'll get someone to assist you. Sign this form for assistance."

Another worker heard me laughing and came over to take me to the machine with the headphones. I was able to talk to her about my expectations to vote privately and independently. Even so, she asked, "Do you want me to stand here and help you?"

When I was finished, I pulled the card out of the machine and handed it to the poll worker. In her most earnest voice, she suggested that I leave by the “handicapped door.”

I know we still have a long way to go before we're recognized as independent and equal. The more people with disabilities that show up at the polls, the easier it will become for all of us.  So, after years of advocacy, testimony, and voter machine testing, I was able to silently and independently vote for the candidate of my choice. Knowing that I worked hard for the right to vote independently and standing up for that right was definitely empowering.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Transportation Survey

Transportation Access and Experiences


The ADA Participation Action Research Consortium would like to invite you to participate in a national survey titled, Transportation Access and Experiences, which is designed to improve understanding of accessibility of public transportation for people with disabilities. This survey ADA-PARC, a collaborative research project of ADA Regional Centers (PIs: Lex Frieden and Joy Hammel). This project focuses on community living, community participation, work and economic participation disparities of people with disabilities (For more information, visit the website: www.adaparc.org). We would like to improve our understanding on transportation access of people with disabilities and use this information to make improvements at regional and national levels.

We are very interested in receiving as many responses as possible from people with disabilities based on their personal experiences with public transportation. The results will serve as crucial evidence to support improvements to accessible transportation.

Please use the link below to access and complete the survey. The online survey can be completed in English or Spanish. This is the second round of data collection for this survey, so if you have already completed it, please do not complete the survey again.

Survey Link: https://unco.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_00wcGeTOzGL2lQ9

If you would like to complete the survey by phone in English, please contact the research team at 312-996-9655. If you would like to complete the survey by phone in Spanish, please contact Ancel Montenelli at 312-413-1439. Please mention that you are calling about the ADA transportation survey.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this survey, please contact Jill Bezyak from the Rocky Mountain ADA Center at jill.bezyak@unco.edu.

Thank-you for taking the time to assist us with this survey.

 ___________________________________________________________________

Nos gustaría invitarle a participar en una encuesta nacional titulada, Acceso y Experiencia de Transporte, el cual está diseñada para mejorar la comprensión de la accesibilidad del transporte público para personas con discapacidad. Esta encuesta está siendo realizada por el Consorcio de la Investigación sobre la Acción para la Participación de la ADA (siglas en inglés ADA-PARC), un proyecto colaborativo de investigación que colabora con siete Centros Regionales de la Ley para americanos con Discapacidades (ADA)  (Investigadores Principales: Lex Frieden y Joy Hammel). Este proyecto el cual se enfocan en la vida en la  comunidad, la participación comunitaria, el trabajo y desigualdades de participación económica de las personas con discapacidad (Para obtener más información, visite el sitio web: www.adaparc.org). Nos gustaría mejorar nuestro entendimiento sobre el acceso al transporte de personas con discapacidad y utilizar esta información para hacer mejoras a nivel regional y nacional.

Estamos muy interesados en recibir tantas respuestas como sea posible de las personas con discapacidad en base a sus experiencias personales con el transporte público. Siéntase en libertad de  compartir la encuesta con entidades potencialmente interesadas. Los resultados servirán como evidencia clave para mejoras al transporte accesible. Utilice el siguiente enlace para acceder y completar la encuesta. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta o comentario acerca de esta encuesta, por favor, póngase en contacto con Joy Hammel a su correo electrónico hammel@uic.edu.

Agregue el enlace de la encuesta aquí:
https://unco.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_00scGeTOzGL21Q9

También deseamos informarle que estamos en la disposición de ayudarle a participar en la encuesta vía  teléfono si así lo prefiere, especialmente si el acceso a Internet es un problema para usted o usted prefiere completar la encuesta verbalmente. Puede llamar a nuestro equipo de investigación al 312-996-9655 si desea realizar la encuesta por teléfono. Si desea completar la encuesta por teléfono en español, por favor póngase en contacto con el Sr. Ancel Montenelli al 312-413-1439. Y Por favor, haga mención que usted está llamando acerca de la encuesta de transporte ADA.

Gracias por tomarse el tiempo para ayudarnos con esta encuesta.

Parent Summit

MCIL focus on Transportation


By Allison Donald
Alison Donald
The Parent Summit and Transition Fair that was held on October 22, 2016 at the Colonial Middle School. The Fair is a one stop shop for information and resources for parents of children and young adults with disabilities that caters to parents who are looking for post-secondary education options.   

There are many choices for parents in areas ranging from education and employment to educating themselves and their children on the different modes of transportation.  Parents have the opportunity to speak with as many vendors as they like about their respective programs and how the programs can assist their child or young adult.  


“I am very pleased that our visitors, community members and vendors are willing to connect parents and guardians with resources and services today,” said Celia Moore, the Director of Shelby County Schools Exceptional Children and Health Services. “I’m grateful to each of you and thank you for your support and for your participation.”


During the breakout sessions which last no more than thirty minutes the vendors present on a particular subject that pertains to the transition of young people and their parents from a school setting to community living.


The Memphis Center for Independent Living breakout session for this year’s summit was centered on transportation options for people with disabilities in Memphis.  Our presentation was primarily focused on letting the parents know that transportation is a vital part of independence for people with disabilities.  


Also, Christina Clift and I wanted to introduce these parents to other modes of transportation aside from them transporting their child everywhere they needed to go.   The most important piece of information I think we wanted to leave them with is independence is a process that can start by teaching your child how to travel independently.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Success Happens Here!



Finding affordable, accessible, integrated housing is difficult in Memphis


By Tim Redd
It’s no secret that our community, people with disabilities face many challenges. In September I met a woman with a disability who was looking for housing. I provided her with several resources to get started in her housing search. I followed up with her on a weekly basis, offering more information as it was needed.

On October 12th I received the news from the woman that she had found housing would be moving on the 24th of this month. She thanked me for all my help. I am happy to help people and I celebrate her success. MCIL is a place of action and we encourage self-advocacy. I am happy to help empower my community, success happens here!