Two News Reports on Disability Access

by Joseph A. Luciano, disability rights activist

1) Seymour shows hostility against downtown senior-disabled residents

All 38 residents of Seymour’s downtown Columbus Street may have gasped in dismay when they realized their street had been re-paved and white-striped—but without the handicapped parking spaces that had been there when they moved in. Instead, a glut of new signs warns of no parking on their side of the street and two-hour parking on the other.

One Columbus Street resident, Amanda (not her real name) goes for dialysis three times a week. Exhausted afterwards, she just wants again to park close to her apartment and go in for a nap to recover. Now that there are no handicapped spaces on Columbus—where 37 other senior-disabled per-sons live—she drives around looking for a parking space. Most always there is none: customers of the growing antiques and gift shop businesses in downtown have taken all of them.

So, Amanda resorts to parking in the municipal parking lot, which is on the other side of the block she lives on. Town Hall know-it-alls blithely think that lot is convenient for her. But they aren’t pushing a walker over pot holes, cracked pavement, and then over fake-brick bumps as they trudge around Tony’s Diner to get home. For her, it’s a long, laborious walk. It’s a hardship.

There is no justifiable reason for having a fire lane nearly the entire length of Columbus Street instead of parking spaces. There is also no reason for not having handicapped parking in the downtown district. The selectmen, P&Z, economic development and engineering have simply adopted a generally hostile attitude towards seniors and senior housing downtown. It may be that town leaders feel Amanda has little to offer the community when, in fact, over 18% of the population (50 million Americans) have disabilities and are living more independently and participating more actively in their communities. Each is a potential customer.

2) Want to be marooned somewhere? Try “Cross Service Area Transit”!

This writer, an ADA certified passenger, warns about using wheelchair bus transport called “Cross Service Area Transit” (CSAT). For it to work without being marooned depends on precise timing and coordination worthy of a circus trapeze act. Recently I was marooned if not abandoned at the transfer station established by Connecticut ADA service providers.

A year ago without public or rider input—and without safeguards—CONNDOT invented CSAT. In theory, the first bus company takes you to a transfer station, where a different bus company takes you to the next transfer station. Coordination between bus companies is poor to nonexistent. There is no real-time shared information about locations of buses of different companies that are meeting up at transfer points.

I have just updated the Underground Travel Guide of “Accessible” Places to Visit in New Haven County. Readers will notice that venues and visitor attractions outside of New Haven County will not be reviewed for ADA compliance and accessibility. Because of my location, trips out of New Haven County require CSAT, which I refuse to try again. Readers are welcome to submit their reviews (for ADA compliance/accessibility) of venues and visitor attractions outside of New Haven County. Please send text and photos to DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com. 250-300 word limit. (203) 463-8323.