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.


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