In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to discuss the means by which people with disabilities have historically been devalued by the very society they live in in spite of political rhetoric embodied in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Edufcation Act, the Fair Housing Act and related enabling legislation with a national scope, and the United Nations Convention on the Dignity and Rights of People with Disabilitie on the international arena, all mandating equal access to participation in every sector of society and the right to lead a fully complete life comparable to able-bodied peers. These are all ideals to aspire towards but unfortunately they are honored in the breach or more often, simply not acknowledged by those charged to enforce them. The reality does not match the political rhetoric. Let me give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
1) The unemployment rate nationally for people with disabilities this month is 16%. Contrast that with a 7% for those without disabilities. I'm not absolutely certain about the exact figure but you get the idea that the gap is a significant one.
2) Access to transportation options in NYC is abysmal. Only 10% of the entire taxi fleet is wheelchair accessible at thuds point. This means interminably long waits on the streets before a single accessible cab is available . The Mayor and City Council President refuse toacknowlegde the problem as a civil rights issue requiring access to the mainstream. Disability advocates are fighting hard to redress this huge imbalance, working towards the goal of 100% accessibility comparable to the checker cab fleet in London. Accessible prototypes and a few innovative minivans were presented to the NYC Taxi and Limoisine Commission which ultimately decided to purchase inaccessible minivans for it's fleet, completely disregarding the needs of the disability community! Therefore, a person in wheelchair or scooter forced to use either paratransit vans(often unreliable and highly inflexible, requiring a day's reservation in advance) or public transportation utilizing fixed routes unilaterally cut by the Metropolitan Transit Authority as part of austerity measures a few months ago.