[nagdu] In study, half of DC taxi drivers pass by blind people with guide dogs

Ginger Kutsch gingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 1 18:38:06 UTC 2010

In study, half of DC taxi drivers pass by blind people with guide
By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 1, 2010; 10:04 AM 
In a study by a civil rights watchdog group, taxi drivers in the
District often drove past blind people who were trying to hail a
cab while accompanied by guide dogs. 
This Story
In study, half of D.C. cab drivers pass by blind people with
guide dogs Shedding light on sidewalk safety The Equal Rights
Center, in a report released Wednesday morning, said it conducted
30 tests earlier this year and that in half of the tests, drivers
passed a man or woman with a guide dog to pick up a person who
did not have a guide dog. In three of the cases where the taxi
did stop for the blind person, the driver attempted to impose a
surcharge for transporting the dog, the Equal Rights Center said.

Under local and federal law, businesses, including taxis, must
make reasonable accommodations to blind people and their service
dogs and may not impose surcharges for transporting a service
dog. But blind people in the District have complained for years
that some taxi drivers flout the law. 
Prompted by such concerns, the Equal Rights Center, which is part
of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban
Affairs, undertook an investigation, assisted by the law firm
Hogan Lovells. 
In each of the 30 tests, which were conducted between March and
May, the Equal Rights Centers placed a blind person with a guide
dog and a sighted person on a high-traffic thoroughfare in the
city. The blind person was placed about 100 feet closer to
oncoming traffic so that he or she would be the first prospective
passenger a taxi would encounter. 
With a video camera rolling, the Equal Rights Center recorded 15
taxis bypassing the blind passenger for the sighted person
standing farther away. Video clips of some of the encounters can
be seen here. In its report, the Equal Rights Center said its
findings made clear that more needs to be done to ensure that the
rights of blind people are protected. Taxi drivers in the
District and elsewhere have long faced scrutiny for passing up
prospective black passengers, and several years ago, the D.C.
police conducted sting operations intended to deter
discrimination by taxi drivers. 
The Equal Rights Center said that the police, the D.C. Taxi
Commission and the D.C. Office of Human Rights need to adopt a
more aggressive approach to addressing taxi-driver bias against
the blind, stepping up both education and enforcement. 
"The law is in place," said Ashley N. White, outreach manager for
the Equal Rights Center, "but no one is really enforcing it." 


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