Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Don't Call Me a Cripple. Just Call Me a Cab"

I received an interesting mailing from United Spinal Association and New Mobility Magazine yesterday, one in which the two organizations recapped efforts to put more accessible cabs on the streets of New York City. According to the two groups, .017 of the big city's cabs are accessible presently.

The thing, though, that sparked the email--and a request to participate in a survey--was a comment from New York City mayor Michale Bloomberg.
Bloomberg stated that “it’s too dangerous” for wheelchair users to hail a cab in New York City and that most drivers would “pretend they didn’t see them”. He also said wheelchair users “sit too far from the driver to establish a dialogue” and therefore “they would not tip well”. 
I suppose there are legitimate arguments against having a 100% accessible fleet of taxi cabs, but Bloomberg sounds as if he's been using Jerry Lewis as a consultant on disability policies.

"It's too dangerous" is patronizing.

" ... pretend they didn't see them" is doubtless true, but a better response would have been to chastise the cab drivers who would deny a legitimate fare out of prejudice.

And "they would not tip well" is bizarre beyond words, or perhaps it is a Freudian slip because he recognizes that many people with disabilities are un-or-under-employed and cannot afford a taxi.

I'm jaded, but occasionally there comes a remark from a person in power that reminds me that people with disabilities eventually will be integrated fully into society only because we keep demanding access and opportunity.

No one denies converting a fleet of 13,000 taxi cabs would be difficult and expensive, but a better response would have been for Bloomberg to say "It's going to be slow and expensive. We may never have a completely accessible cab fleet. But it's easy to recognize that people with disabilities want to be fully integrated into the life of our great city, and because we recognize people with disabilities have much to contribute, we want that integration to happen as quickly as possible.





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