More than a dozen disability rights groups signed onto a letter sent to both chambers of Congress last month, urging elected officials to protect public transportation programs in ongoing budget negotiations.
“People with disabilities disproportionately rely on public transit. Public transit and paratransit are essential modes for people with disabilities to shop, work, participate and live in their communities,” the letter states. “If transit services are cut back, people with disabilities may be forced to use more expensive specialized transportation services to access work, education and social opportunities in their communities, or may find themselves confined to their home.”
The advocates, including the National Disability Rights Network and the American Foundation for the Blind, who signed the letter under the umbrella of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, stressed the importance of maintaining sidewalks with curb ramps, pedestrian signals and other basic necessities that make modern cities more accessible to people with disabilities.In addition, they highlighted multiple federal programs aimed specifically at improving transportation accessibility. Among these programs is the Section 5310 Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities formula grant program, which provides grants to nonprofit programs that work with different populations to meet their transportation needs.
“Many local transit systems are struggling to meet the needs of citizens with disabilities through their paratransit programs,” the letter states. “Further incentive is needed to create new and innovative ways to become more accessible and address existing deficiencies in service for individuals with disabilities,” the letter states.
Disability Rights Washington, the publisher of Rooted in Rights, is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system, and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.