[nfbmi-talk] FW: need comments asap on free press web site on free press story
f.wurtzel at att.net
Thu Mar 3 02:26:48 UTC 2016
From: Ody Norkin [mailto:ody.norkin at gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 8:11 PM
Cc: Fred Wurtzel <f.wurtzel at att.net>; Larry Posont <president.nfb.mi at gmail.com>; >; Marcus Simmons <ceo at simmonsbosscreations.com>
Subject: need comments asap on free press web site on free press story
hey team - we need comments PRO RIGHTS - please help me spread the story
the DOJ regional office is reporting how many pro disability rights comments will show up versus anti rights
please forward to all you know to write even one sentence - to say no segregated buses for the disability community.
thanks so much
see story on free press
Airport's transit plan for the disabled ignites debate
Eric D. Lawrence
, Detroit Free Press
7:08 p.m. EST March 2, 2016
(Photo: Sylwia Kapuscinski/Detroit Free Press)
A Detroit Metro Airport plan to create new pickup and drop-off locations for travelers with disabilities is drawing fire from some in the disability community over what they're calling “segregated bus stops.”
Jason Turkish, a Southfield-based attorney representing disabled clients fighting the Wayne County Airport Authority, said he plans legal action in federal court to stop the plan. He said federal law is “crystal clear” on the subject.
“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can’t have segregated boarding locations,” Turkish said of plans to offer specific stops for those with disabilities. He said providers such as the Michigan Flyer, which operates the public-private AirRide service, would refuse to humiliate their disabled passengers by, for example, dropping off those passengers at one stop and then heading to a stop farther away to drop off everyone else, which would also force other travelers to wait longer to get to their destinations.
Brian Sadek, the airport authority’s in-house counsel, disputed the contention that travelers with disabilities would be segregated, saying the stops would comply with federal disability law and simply allow those riders an additional and more convenient option. The changes are planned for mid-March.
“In no point will anyone be required to disclose their disability,” Sadek said, describing the scenario of a gate attendant asking if those with special needs or children would like to board a plane early. “This is an option that members of the disability community can choose to use, but it is not mandatory.”
Transportation providers, including shuttles, AirRide and Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation — Detroit’s suburban bus service — would announce the optional stop in advance for those disabled riders, their families and any caretakers who want to take advantage of it, Sadek said. Those with disabilities would also have the option of continuing on to the regular stop.
Sadek said the specific language for announcing the stops is still being worked out.
“We want to make sure we get this right so it’s not something that’s insensitive,” he said.
As part of the plan, the airport is spending $350,000 to alter the curb area at the McNamara Terminal departures location to accommodate drop-off stops specifically for travelers with disabilities on buses and other forms of transportation. The current slope of the area is too steep to meet ADA guidelines, so a modified concrete path is under construction. The plan would also allow transit providers to let disabled travelers board outside a door closer to the terminal than they do now.
The plan and the response are related to the ongoing battle over the airport’s decision in 2014 to move the pickup and drop-off locations for public transportation providers. Those bus stops were moved from what had been essentially curbside service at the McNamara Terminal to the far end of the terminal’s Ground Transportation Center, which is an open-air, though covered, location in the McNamara garage.
The switch meant a substantially farther walk for those using public transportation, including disabled riders, prompting a debate over the airport’s commitment to public transportation and its treatment of disabled travelers.
Officials including Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and U.S. Rep. John Dingell sent letters advising against the move or requesting a resolution.
Airport officials said the move was done strictly because of safety concerns, saying that the former location had become dangerously congested.
Turkish called the planned changes "a smokescreen,” claiming that the effort is part of the airport’s “agenda” against public transportation in favor of other transportation providers that contract with the airport and parking, which also provides revenue.
"We had a single accessible bus stop for everybody that worked for ... years," he said of the former arrangement.
At the airport’s North Terminal, Bay 5, the closest bay to the enclosed part of that terminal’s Ground Transportation Center, would serve the same function as the two new stops at McNamara.
The regular stops for public transportation would not change under the plan. Sadek said the arrangement at the Ground Transportation Center is “very rational” and is based on frequency of stops, meaning those providers that make more stops have closer access.
Bruce Adelson, CEO of Federal Compliance Consulting in Potomac, Md., acted as a consultant on the plan for the airport authority. Adelson, whom airport officials described as a nationally recognized expert on disability access, said the additional stops do not amount to segregation, which has a specific connotation.
"I don’t view this as segregation. I view this as a reasonable accommodation, a reasonable alternative," he said, noting that segregation provides no alternatives.
But Fred Wurtzel, the former head of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, accused the airport authority of trying to follow the letter of the law while sticking a finger in the eye of those who have complained about their treatment at the airport.
"I just find it insulting," he said. "What's (the authority's) point? If they can let somebody off (at the new stops), they can let everybody off there."
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: elawrence at freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.
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