Saturday, August 14, 2010

San Diego Trolley Outreach

On Monday, MTS (Metropolitan Transit System) of the city of San Diego, held an outreach for the disabled community. The purpose was for people with disablities, especially those using manual and power wheelchairs, to try out the ramp they are planning to put on all the new trolleys. They also wanted the input of the disabled community about the new ramps.

The event was held at the 12th and Imperial transfer station in downtown San Diego. They had a mock-up of the planned ramp as it would be with the doors of the trolley open. They had me drive my chair up and down the ramp, approaching from different sides and straight on, with high sides and without. I found it very easy to manuever my power chair up and down and the width of the ramp and doorway was just right. Afterwards I gave a positive evaluation.

Though it worked great with my power wheelchair, the manual wheelchair users had trouble pushing their chairs up and down the ramp. Being in a power wheelchair, I forget that manual wheelchair users use a lot of effort to move around. It was my hope, and the hope of the other people that took part in the outreach that our input would lead to a ramp that would work for all people with disabilities. It was our understanding that this was the purpose of the outreach.

I applauded what appeared to be a good effort of the MTS to reach out to the disabled community. But, it turned out to be an empty gesture. An acquaintance of mine who uses a manual wheelchair had trouble wheeling himself up the ramp--as did a lot of manual wheelchair users--and mentioned the problems and suggested they lengthen the ramp to make it less steep. He was told that the ramp could not be changed. The outreach turned out to be futile. Why did they have us try out the ramp and give our input when the design was already approved? It appears to me that this outreach was nothing but an attempt on the part of the MTS to appease the disabled community and to make themselves look good. It achieved neither purpose.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Visit to the Office of State Senator Mark Wyland

On Tuesday, June 29 ( This blog post is over a month late. Blame it on summer procrastination) , I paid a visit to the local office of State Senator Mark Wyland. I went to his office to discuss my concerns about possible cuts to IHSS (In-home Support Services) and Medi-Cal and how cuts to these programs could adversely affect the ability of people with disabilities to live independent lives, and to be a part of the community

This is part of my work with Access to Independence of San Diego to advocate for the disabled community. Again I was accompanied by Rachel Vega from A2I. But, this time I did most of the talking. Senator Wyland was not available, so we met with his assistant instead.

I told Senator Wyland's assistant how important it was for a person with a disability to live in the community and to get in-home care or assistance. If I didn't have in-home care to help me with my everyday needs, then it would be very difficult for me to live at home and I would end up in a nursing home. A nursing home is a terrible fate for an independent person; in a nursing home there are all kinds of germs and viruses and it isolates people from the community. If cuts are made to programs that enable people with disabilities to live in the community, such as IHSS and Medi-Cal Waiver Program, then it be comes a quality of life issue. It would also violate the Olmstead Act, which is supposed to allow people with disabilities to choose to live in the community, and not to be forced into nursing homes.

His assistant seemed attentive to what I was saying and appeared to grasp the importance of what I was saying. Whether or not what I said will influence Senator Wyland or not is difficult to know, but it is still important to let my voice be heard and to try to give voice to an important issue for the disabled community.