Friday, March 4, 2016
MATA Specialized Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting
By Tim Wheat
The STAC Meeting did not have a quorum but the Memphis Center for Independent Living was able to submit a draft of an accessible MATAplus Application for the new Acting Director to consider. MCIL has made clear that the current MATAplus Application is not accessible because it is only presented as a paper document and MATA staff do not assist people to complete or understand the application.
MATA’s paratransit service, called MATAplus, provides transportation to people who cannot access the MATA system because of a disability. The irony is that MATAplus is the service for people with disabilities; yet they do not make their application in accessible and usable formats. Many would-be patrons cannot because of a disability read print.
The ADA makes typical services available to people with disabilities so everyone may participate equally in the community. MATA’s failure to provide equal access often means that organizations like the Memphis Center for Independent Living must be involved to make the accommodations that MATA does not.
More importantly MATA’s failure to accommodate their customers reinforces the stigma that people with disabilities are dependent on others for equal access to the community. MATA’s error is hurtful to our community and a violation of the civil rights of individuals who apply for MATAplus.
The MCIL draft takes the MATA format and makes is more informative to the applicant. Most importantly, the MCIL draft has removed the questions about “conditional eligibility” because MATA does not limit eligibility. The result is that the questions deal mostly with why a person cannot, because of their disability, functionally use the fixed-route. The determination is not based on a diagnosis, but the pragmatic barriers that prevent someone from using the typical bus system.
MATA presented the STAC members with “Revision 8” of the MATAplus Rider’s Guide. This is an important document that explains how to use the system. MATA does not put this vital information on the MATA website, but MCIL will publish the document as soon as we can scan and study the new Rider’s Guide.
Additionally MATA has some basic information about the system performance that they have passed on to MCIL. This “Monthly Operation Report” we will analyze and publish here on the MCIL Journal next week.
You may learn more about what the ADA requires from the US Department of Justice guidance at: http://www.ada.gov/effective-comm.htm
If you need assistance with the MATAplus Application, please visit the Memphis Center for Independent Living or call 901-726-6404.