[blindkid] Discrimination in Oakland

Heather craney07 at rochester.rr.com
Tue Feb 9 03:40:45 UTC 2010

While, I agree that this is a bad situation all around, and that something 
must be done.  I do not disagree with a driver afraid of dogs asking her to 
move to the back of the bus.  These are not big long city buses, ala Rosa 
Parks, and there is no danger of her missing her stop or under-going extreme 
strain because of sitting a few seats back.  Although the driver freaked and 
was rude, she may also have been panicked.  I think the bus company is at 
fault certainly, but I do have some limited empathy for the driver.  I 
routinely offer to sit in the back of our para transit buses, because the 
driver is afraid of large dogs, and honestly, on our buses at least, there 
is more room and therefore comfort for the dog in the back.  Now, obviously, 
this bus driver needs a career change, and some sensativity training.  And, 
I think this should be taken to the next level with action taken, but the 
back of the bus thing seems to be being played up an awful lot, and that is 
not the issue here.  The issue is the initial refusal, as well as the way in 
which the driver refered to the blind individual and dog as "them" and then 
left them on a locked bus.  Also, although this was inapropriate, they were 
not truly locked on the bus.  Those doors can be forced open, even when 
locked, for safety reasons.  Is this dog really a "Seeing Eye dog" or a 
guide dog?  Seeing Eye dogs only come from the Seeing Eye in New Jersey. 
They have the same rights as guide dogs from other schools such as Guide Dog 
Foundation, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, etc, 
but, it is important that a widely distributed article like this be 
accurate.  Additionally, has she contacted Seeing Eye, or, whatever school 
her dog is from?  Something this extreme, they might be willing and able to 
help with.  I hope this is resolved soon, with some serious changes in 
people's thinking resultant.  I will pass this on to a guide dog group I am 
a part of, and show it to the trainer from GDF that I am currently training 
with this week.  Take care all.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Anne Ward" <inland2wards at att.net>
To: <Undisclosed-Recipient: ;@smtp127.sbc.mail.sp1.yahoo.com>
Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 3:29 PM
Subject: [blindkid] Discrimination in Oakland

> 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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