The ADA Guru regularly sends out tips in their newsletter. We’ve compiled our top three from recent newsletters below, but don’t forget you can sign up for their newsletter to get them right in your inbox.
1) Large/Heavy Wheelchairs
Question: “Our agency has several riders using wheelchairs that are very large and heavy. We aren’t sure they can fit on our vehicles. Can we deny services to them?”
ADA Guru’s Thoughts: “Thinking” that a wheelchair is tool large/heavy is different than “knowing” that it cannot board. We need objective evidence before considering denying services. Therefore, we must give riders the opportunity to attempt boarding.
2) “Adequate Time”
Question: “During one of your webinars I was surprised to learn that the ADA requires that operators allow “adequate time” for riders with disabilities to board and alight vehicles. But what does this really mean? 5 minutes?…10 minutes?…longer?”
ADA Guru’s Thoughts: “Adequate time” is one of several terms not specifically defined in the ADA. In my work with transit agencies around the country, I suggest a definition that allows riders with disabilities to take as long as needed for them to safely board/alight vehicles.
It is important to remember, however, that we can offer assistance to help speed boarding and alighting. For example, offering to help with bags, offering assistance pushing their wheelchair (if safe to do so), etc. This approach helps us stay compliant and (hopefully) on schedule.
3) “Respecting the Differences Among People with Disabilities”
Question: “I just learned that the ADA requires operators to respect the differences among people with disabilities. What does that really mean?”
ADA Guru’s Thoughts: Great question! “Differences among people with disabilities” means that we do not treat all people with disabilities the same. Even riders with what we believe to have the same disabilities, using a wheelchair for example, may need different types of assistance.
Our trainings must prepare operators to focus on the assistance needed and not make assumptions about how they should assist a rider with a disability.
ADA Guru is an expert at helping transit staff at all levels to understand ADA requirements and the many ways the riders with disabilities need assistance.
And don’t get me started on the challenge of assisting riders with “hidden disabilities”!