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.

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.