[blindkid] Discrimination in Oakland

Richard Holloway rholloway at gopbc.org
Tue Feb 9 02:45:41 UTC 2010


That is absolutely deplorable. I'm no expert, but personally I think  
they are completely in the wrong. Some quick web research would seem  
to support that as well--

First of all, AC Transit  is basically part of BART-- the Bay Area  
Rapid Transit service. Go to their web site and the first paragraph  
states that "AC Transit and BART established this service to meet the  
requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act." So there is  
their own confirmation that they are obliged to comply with the ADA;  
it is why they exist.

http://www.actransit.org/riderinfo/paratransit.wu

Referencing The ADA, guidedogs.com indicates that "Title II requires  
that State and local governments give people with disabilities an  
equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs."  Sounds to  
me like they are not doing so-- to say the least.

If I were involved, I would strongly consider calling some local  
media, especially TV stations, telling them what happened and pointing  
them to the sources I mentioned above, for a start.

A calm presentation to the media will make BART and their associates  
to look pretty bad and I suspect they will want to save face and  
correct what they will claim was one misguided employee who does not  
represent the policies and practices of the BART system, or something  
really similar that.

Richard



On Feb 8, 2010, at 3:29 PM, Anne Ward wrote:

> This was sent to me this morning by Judith Lesner, who asked me to  
> distribute it widely.
>
> Anne Ward
>
>
>
> Discrimination in Oakland?
>
>
>
> Last night my very good friend Marvelena Quesada was told that she  
> had to "sit in the back of the bus".  In this case, an East Bay  
> ParaTransit bus.  The person givithng the order was the bus's  
> dispatcher.  Marvelena's status that led up to the banishment to the  
> back of the bus was her traveling with Darla.  Marvelena is blind  
> and Darla is her seeing eye dog.
>
>
>
> To start at the beginning, Marvelena and her husband Chris Gray came  
> to my house for dinner.  They are both blind and Chris is the past  
> president of the American Council of the Blind which is a national  
> consumer group.  They had arranged to be picked up by East Bay  
> ParaTransit for a ride home.  At about 9:15 they got a call that  
> their ride was outside.  I walked out with them to bus number 352.   
> The driver asked if the dog was going along too.  Marvelena replied  
> that it was.  The driver then decided that her bus was not  
> positioned correctly and drove about a half block down the street.   
> By the time we got to her she was on her cell phone and refused  
> entry to Chris and Marvelena, yelling at them through the partially  
> opened door that no one had said anything about a dog and that she  
> had "issues" with dogs.  She said they had to wait for another  
> paratransit  bus to come and take them.  Chris said that they had a  
> legal right to get on the bus with the dog and forced his way  
> through the partially opened door and got on the bus.  The driver  
> slammed the door and wouldn't let Marvelena and Darla on the bus.
>
>
>
> Meanwhile the driver was speaking to her dispatcher on a speaker  
> phone.  That was when the dispatcher made her Solomon like decision  
> to end the impasse, "Go take the dog and sit in the back of the  
> bus".  I informed the driver and dispatcher that it was no longer  
> the 50's where they could get away with that.  Chris and Marvelena  
> said that she would not move to the back.  While this was going on,  
> Marvelena and Darla managed to get on the bus.  Marvelena was  
> calling paratransit and she and I and another friend were conferring  
> through the open door.  At that point the passenger on the bus said  
> that she had had it with waiting so long and would walk the rest of  
> the way home.  She got off the bus and left.  The driver reported  
> that the passenger had left the bus because of the dog which was a  
> baldfaced lie.  The driver then said that the company was sending  
> another bus to take them home.
>
>
>
> This all went on for some time when the driver closed the doors so  
> that we could no longer talk to Chris and Marvelena, turned out the  
> lights and left the bus.  Marvelena and Chris were left alone in a  
> locked bus while the driver walked half a block away and spoke on  
> her cell phone.  Chris then called 911 and two Oakland policemen  
> arrived shortly there after.
>
>
>
> One of the police asked my friend and I what was happening.  I  
> explained the situation.  The policeman said something to the effect  
> that it depended on the bus company's policy.  I said that was  
> nonsense.  That it had nothing to do with the bus company, it was a  
> federal law called the ADA.  Marvelena and her dog had the same  
> right of access to public places as Marvelena did on her own.  He  
> seemed unaware of the law.
>
>
>
> Finally, after the police arrived, another bus arrived to take them  
> home.  The altercation took about an hour and involved the waste of  
> two bus drivers' time as well as that of two Oakland police personnel.
>
>
>
> Questions that arise:
>
>  1.. Why when so many people with disabilities are using service  
> animals does a company whose sole clientele are people with  
> disabilities hire a driver who will not drive a bus with a dog on it?
>  2.. If the company feels compelled to hire folks who are afraid of  
> dogs, why do they not routinely ask passengers if they are traveling  
> with service animals so that they can send a not-afraid driver?
>  3.. Why were the driver and the dispatcher not trained by the  
> company to know the laws about access and seeing eye dogs?
>  4.. Why was the driver not trained in basic courtesy?  She  
> routinely yelled at us, slammed doors and at one point told me to  
> "move him."  She was referring to Chris.  I explained that he was a  
> person and he moved himself, I did not move him.
>  5.. Why are the Oakland Police not trained in the fundamentals of  
> ADA access laws?
>
>
> Issues to note:
>
>  1.. Darla was wearing a regulation Seeing Eye harness, did not make  
> any noise, did not show any aggression despite the shouting of the  
> driver and lay on the floor of the bus near Marvelena's feet the  
> entire time.
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