The monthly DISABILITY RIGHTS e-publication of Disability Network Southwest Michigan
Vote YES on Kalamazoo Transit Millage
On March 10, during the Presidential primary election, voters in the greater Kalamazoo area will be asked to consider a millage of up to .90 mills for five years beginning in 2021 to support the Metro public bus transportation system.
Over 70% of Metro riders use the bus five or more days per week; 88% of them do not have a vehicle. Metro operates seven days a week, providing transportation for employees, seniors and students, including those with disabilities. The fixed route bus system, along with the county-wide Metro Connect system, gives everyone in Kalamazoo access to public transportation that is safe and reliable year round.
Metro's public transportation system is funded by several sources including state reimbursements which have recently decreased. Metro Executive Director, Sean McBride, said the proposed millage will help Metro maintain the same level of service despite the reduction in reimbursement.
Amtrak to Re-evaluate their Accessibility Policies Following Outrage Over $25,000 Ticket for Wheelchair Users
Last month Amtrak attempted to charge two wheelchair users $25,000 for tickets that normally cost $16 due to a policy about removing seats on their passenger cars. One of the travelers involved is an employee of a disability advocacy agency and the two were traveling to a disability conference. The press that came out around this incident prompted a public apology from Amtrak and a visit from two Senators.
Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworh, a wheelchair user herself, met with the CEO of Amtrak to discuss their accessibility policies. During this meeting, Amtrak committed to a number of requests outlined by the Senators including a policy review, working with the members of Congress who have jurisdiction over Amtrak to create a new board seat to be filled by a person with a disability, and the hiring of a direct report to the CEO with a focus on accessibility issues.
Changes Proposed to the Air Carrier Act Restricting Assistance Animals on Flights
Over the past few years several airlines have made widespread changes to their service animal policies to establish guidelines for what is and isn't acceptable. Currently, the U.S. Department of Transportation is looking at making changes to the Air Carrier Act which would provide more defined rules and restrictions regarding both Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals for all airlines.
The proposed regulations are meeting with mixed reactions from the disability community. While stricter regulation puts more responsibility on the person traveling with an assistance animal, the creation of a set of standards that all airlines adhere to prevents individual airlines from creating even more strict policies of their own that may further limit travelers with support animals.
Follow this link to an article that outlines the specific proposed regulations being considered and provides a link to provide
public comment regarding the proposed changes.Public comment is being accepted through April 6.
The ADA at 30 Years / Olmstead at 20 Years
This year is the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and we look forward to celebrating that with you! Twenty years ago this month, the ADA impacted the ruling in "Olmstead."
Olmstead, an important court case in which the Supreme Court ruled that, under the ADA, state and local governments must serve people with disabilities in the community, NOT in institutions. This ruling broke down segregation and mandated integration for people with disabilities. Follow this link to read more about Olmstead.
MOVIE & DISCUSSION
Far From the Tree
We continue our Winter Movie & Discussion Series with the film Far From the Tree, a documentary that examines the experiences of families in which parents and children are profoundly different from one another in a variety of ways. The film explores expectations that parents put on their children and whether those expectations come from the children's needs or the parents' need to be seen as a "good parent." (NOTE: This film contains adult themes.)
We'll be watching Far From the Tree in Kalamazoo (February 25) and St. Joseph (February 27). Follow this link for details and to pre-register for any of our Winter Movie & Discussion events.
Ableism Workshop Series
In March we are
offering our Ableism Series. Join us to learn how people and organizations often unknowingly contribute to the marginalization of people with disabilities. This workshop is designed to raise awareness and offer alternative ways to talk about and approach disability on both a personal and systemic level.
Ableism 101 will be offered in Battle Creek (March 3) and Kalamazoo (March 4); Ableism 102 will be in Kalamazoo on March 5. Follow this link for more details and to register for our Ableism workshops.