Thursday, April 28, 2016

Job Fair and Disability Summit

Job Fair for U.S. Veterans and People with Disabilities

Wednesday, May 18 from 9:AM to 2:PM at the Salvation Army Kroc Center 800 East Parkway, Memphis, TN 38104

To register:

people watching a powerpoint presentation
This event features a job fair with booths providing a variety of services and hiring opportunities, as well as an Educational Summit consisting of four breakout sessions covering topics such as interviewing tips, job readiness skills and lifestyle concers. The Summit and Job Fair are free.

Job Fair open from 9 until noon
Summit Sessions begin at 10:AM and end at 2:PM

The Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities (MACCD), in partnership with Medtronic, and the Workforce Investment Network (WIN) will hold a Disability Summit and Job Fair for Veterans and persons with disabilities. This event will provide information and resources for people and family members who have recently acquired a disability. 

Our keynote speakers will discuss the challenges, obstacles, and what their journey has been like since they or their family member acquired a disability, and will provide practical tips to get you started.  Registered attendees will also be able to participate in break-out sessions, talk with potential employers at the Job Fair, and network with local resources in the community. 

As seating is limited, we are requiring all attendees to preregister for this event.  For more information please contact: Christina Clift at (901) 726-6404 Ext. 108 Veronica McKinney at (901) 438-0412, or Phyllis Brunson at (901) 636-7940.

To register: 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Greyhound Access

Claims for Compensation Under Historic Settlement Between Department of Justice and Greyhound May Now Be Filed 

A claims process is now available to compensate people who experienced disability discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound. The claims process is part of a consent decree that resolves nationwide Americans with Disabilities Act discrimination claims brought by the Justice Department. Greyhound Lines, Inc. has hired a Claims Administrator to distribute an uncapped amount of compensation to people who experienced disability discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound.
Individuals eligible for compensation must:
  • have a disability;
  • have traveled or attempted to travel on Greyhound between February 8, 2013, and February 8, 2016;
  • experienced a disability–related incident during the travel or attempted travel (for example, lack of accessible transportation or transportation–related services, Greyhound's failure to make disability-related accommodations, etc.); and
  • submit a Claim Form by mail, email, or online, to the Claims Administrator by no later than November 10, 2016.
Instructions regarding the claims process are available at the Claims Administrator's website. The Claims Administrator can also be reached by email, by telephone, toll-free at 844-502-5953 or 800-659-2656 (TTY), or by mail at U.S. v. Greyhound Claims Administrator, c/o Class Action Administration LLC, PO Box 6878, Broomfield, CO 80021. Assistance is available from the Claims Administrator for those who are unable to complete the Claim Form due to a disability.
To learn more about the Department's lawsuit and settlement with Greyhound that established this claims process, visit the ADA website.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Limitations of the MATAplus Rider’s Guide

The guide should answer important questions for riders.

By Christina Clift

Christina Clift
Upon reviewing the most recent edition of the Memphis Area Transit Authority’s paratransit Rider’s Guide or as it is often referred to as the MATAplus Rider’s Guide, I found that it does not provide any information or policies covering inclement weather or emergency situations.  It is important for users of MATA’s paratransit system to know what the policy is when there is ice or snow on the ground.  

Can paratransit riders get picked up to go to work, dialysis, shopping, and church?  Living in the south, I know that most people tend to stay home when such weather events happen, but there are some people that still must get to places no matter the weather.  I suppose the guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act would be the best place to check for such an answer.  However, I could not find anything that specifically covered these types of situations.  According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, paratransit service is supposed to run where and when a fixed route bus is operating, so unless the fixed route is shut down MATAplus must continue to run.  

In March of 2015 Memphis was hit with a blast of snow and ice, and according to MATAplus at that time, they would only transport people to and from dialysis appointments.  But the current MATAplus Rider’s Guide does not have any information on inclement weather or emergency service.  If there had been a clearly defined policy in the Rider’s Guide, MATAplus riders would have known.  

It is up to MATA to create a policy and explain it into riders.  Of course, it should be a policy that keeps both its bus operators and riders safe, but flexible enough to realize that not all people with disabilities want to stay home even in bad weather.  

Finally, the Rider’s Guide does not cover other emergency events that might occur while riding on one of its vehicles.  What if you are on the bus during a tornado warning, what is the driver supposed to do?  What if there’s a fire or accident and riders have to get off the bus?  These questions are not answered either.  

One solution would be to provide periodic training for rider’s to make them aware of how they can get off the bus if the worst were to happen.  So I call upon MATA to work with the disability community to create a usable Rider’s Guide.  One that is simple to understand and not full of transit jargon, one that is readable by all no matter their disability of communication preference, and one that answers questions like mine.

Read the MATAplus Rider's Guide
MATA public meeting

MATAplus Rider’s Guide Problems

The Guide Confusing about fares and Service Area

Bobbie FieldsBy Bobbie Fields
The rider’s guide states that there is a fee to ride MATAplus but does not state the cost of each trip or the cost for any of the fare saving plans.

The cost for each trip is $3.50 each way, as long as you are traveling within the zone area where a fixed-route bus goes. There are additional fees for traveling outside the zone area that range from $5.50 all the way to $10.50, one way, to parts of Collierville, Germantown, Frasier, Westwood and Raleigh.

There are some programs that may save you a few dollars like the 21-RIDE MATAPLUS PASS. There is also a senior and disabled discount fare for riding the fixed route if you are certified to ride MATAplus. Seniors have an additional discount fare.

MATA website on MATAplus fares:

MATA bus operator
The riders guide does not mention anything about the off peak hours schedule and how service to the zones. Some buses only run at peak times to the furthest zones, or in only one direction at times. It is not clear in the rider's guide how MATAplus serves these areas. The guide needs to explain how to schedule your ride in order to better manage your pick-up times.

There are a few more things wrong with the guide but it can wait. These are the things I am asked about the most.

The MATAplus Rider's Guide is published on the MCIL website:

Friday, April 15, 2016

MCIL at the National ADAPT Action

ADAPT was in Washington DC this month and three MCIL staff were able to attend. The national focus is currently the Disability Integration Act, which is a Civil Rights bill that will give Americans the right to live in the community. Senate Bill 2427, introduced by Sen. Schumer from New York, requires states and insurance providers that pay for Long Term Services and Supports to change their policies, provide community-based services first, and offer HCBS to people currently in institutions.ADAPT activist is arrested at the White House

ADAPT visited the White House to make the case to the Administration that disability rights should not take a backseat to other civil-rights efforts. Following over sixty arrests at the White House, ADAPT brought the same message to the US Department of Justice. The DOJ had failed to bring a large Olmstead style case to reinforce the “integration mandate” of the ADA. To accentuate the point, at the same time ADAPT demanded Loretta Lynch keep the DOJ’s promise, a second smaller team of activists demonstrated in front of Vanita Gupta’s home demanding equal treatment of the civil rights of people with disabilities.

ADAPT also made a surprise visit to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Again, as ADAPT blocked all the entrances the to huge Washington DC monolith; a smaller team was at the home of Secretary Burwell in residential north DC. The focus of National ADAPT was to recognize that Medicaid rates have undercut the ability of Americans with disabilities to live in their own home and to assure that state Medicaid rates are sufficient to secure the workforce needed for community integration.
Please visit the ADAPT website to learn more about this important action and to see photos of MCIL activists in action.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

STAC makes changes in April

Specialized Transportation Advisory Committee works to improve service for MATAplus.

By Tim Wheat
When Acting Director Stephen Fields walked in to MCIL on April 6, MATAplus considered any trip request by a rider to have been met if MATA provided some alternative anytime on the day of the request. They even reported that MATAplus had no trip denials in March. When Fields left MCIL, MATAplus had new direction that included noting a trip denial if alternatives provided are more than one hour from the requested time. 

MATA bus interior

Director Fields said that he understood what a “trip denial” was and said that a trip was not a denial if MATA could offer alternatives; yet, Bobbie Fields of MCIL methodically walked him through what MATAplus riders are told by the MATA reservationists. Mr. Fields clearly stated that he had read the MATAplus Rider’s Guide, but when MCIL staff read to him a phrase from the MATAplus Rider’s Guide: “Any trip that is more than one hour from the requested pickup time is considered a trip denial under the ADA;” Mr. Fields stated he would change in practice immediately. The next day at the Memphis Advisory Committee meeting, MATAplus administration announced the change.

The Director also announced that they had made no progress with the inaccessible application that is currently offered by MATA. Steven Fields stated that they had examined the draft that MCIL had provided at the previous meeting and only noted that they wished to include a list of disabilities.

MCIL staff noted that such a list was completely inappropriate and demonstrated the lack of understanding the administration has of paratransit. Eligibility to use the paratransit system must be a “functional determination” and not a diagnosis. No list would be rational, and MCIL staff took time to explain why offering a list would require MATA extending eligibility to people who are not eligible for the system.

MATAplus also announced that they would use social media to communicate with riders. MCIL has no information if people need or are using this new feature.

Mr. Fields said that MATAplus had ordered 9 new vehicles and were examining them to see if they met the MATA contract. The buses will transport 3 people who use wheelchairs and 10 passengers. They are ramp and not lift vehicles that will support one-thousand pounds. Bobbie Fields of MCIL asked if the STAC could inspect the new buses and the Director said “no.”

Pie chart showing only .41% of fixed route riders use wheelchairsChristina Clift of MCIL asked about an inclement weather policy which is absent from the Rider’s Guide, but there seems to be some policy at MATA. She noted that the fixed-route runs, but MATAplus only offers limited service in poor weather. Mr. Fields did not commit to a policy but said he would look into it as well as updating the Rider’s Guide.

Earlier, Bobbie Fields of MCIL had asked about fares and zones to be covered in the Guide. But Steven Fields simply stated that it was covered in the “approval letter” and again did not commit to any change.

The next STAC Meeting is May 5, at 3:PM here at the Memphis Center for Independent Living.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Vote in the General Election!

If you want to be part of the election in November, it is important now that you check your voter registration. Today is the deadline for the county election, but if you want to be part of the general election in November it is important that you keep your voter registration up to date. Don’t let the deadline sneak-up on you, October 11 will be the last day to register if you wish to vote in the general election.

You may easily check your Tennessee voter registration online at: If you are a resident of Shelby County Tennessee you may call the Election Commission at: 901-222-1200.

If you have a felony conviction in Tennessee you will have to have your voting rights restored. Start the process with this form:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 will be election day. October 19, will be the first day to vote early in person. August 10, will be the first day to receive requests for by-mail ballots from persons other than military and overseas voters. If you don’t wish to vote in person, you may apply for a vote by-mail ballot. The state of Tennessee does not list the requirements for a vote by-mail ballot now, but you may see the process at:

This election most voters will need to have a photo ID. Generally the following list of IDs may be used, even if expired: Tennessee driver license with your photo, United States Passport, Photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Photo ID issued by the federal or Tennessee state government, United States Military photo ID and Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo.

College student IDs and photo IDs not issued by the federal or Tennessee state government are not acceptable. Voters cannot use county or city issued photo IDs, such as library cards, and photo IDs issued by other states. For a more exhaustive list visit the Tennessee Secretary of State page on photo IDs: