Disability 101: The continuing saga
January 18, 2009
Oh, the limitations of 600 words per column. There’s often a whole lot more I want to say. You only get part of the story.
In my last column, I expressed my frustration and fear associated with a previous experience in which there was no accessible parking at my grocery store because someone without a placard had parked illegally. I had to fight for accessible parking as well as deal with exhaustion and mental fatigue from shopping with MS.
A few days later, a letter to the editor was printed from a reader who, quite rightfully, was concerned that I was driving while exhausted and in a mental fog. Good point. Here’s the rest of the story that didn’t fit in my 600 word limit.
Shortly after the experience I wrote about, I also became concerned about my ability to drive, and I became a Mountain Mobility rider. Mountain Mobility is a para-transit service operated by Summit Stage and designed to provide bus service to riders with disabilities who cannot access the fixed-route bus system.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all bus services to be accessible to people with disabilities. That means that all bus routes are serviced by buses with lifts and wheelchair tie downs.
However, some people are still unable to use the bus. Perhaps, like me, they are unable to get to their nearest bus stop because the route is not accessible. Perhaps a person with a cognitive disability has difficulty navigating the bus system. If a person with a disability is not able to access the bus system, they are entitled, by the ADA, to ride a paratransit system.
Para-transit services pick up qualified riders at their place of origin and take them directly to their destination. There are restrictions put in place by the ADA. First of all, a rider must be truly unable to access the fixed route bus system. Secondly, they only serve pick up points and destinations that are within three-fourths of a mile of a fixed bus route.
Mountain Mobility is one of the best para-transit services in the state. For that matter, Summit Stage is one of the best bus systems in the state. I’ve been checking out public transportation services on the Front Range, and let me tell you, Summit County is lucky to have Summit Stage and Mountain Mobility.
But I digress. Shortly after the incident I wrote about in my last column, I became a Mountain Mobility rider. Then, after about a year and a half, my multiple sclerosis symptoms improved. That’s common with MS. So I started driving on a regular basis again because it was safe to do so.
The writer of the letter to the editor who was concerned about me driving volunteered to drive me to the store periodically. Thanks, but I don’t need it now. How I wish you were available when I did need the help, but I had no offers then.
I would, however, venture a guess that everyone who is reading this probably knows a senior citizen or a person with a disability or health problem who could use a ride to the store and help with that shopping trip. I would challenge you to reach out to those who could use the help, and offer a ride. Not just a one time offer, but a more frequent and consistent offer, because grocery shopping is a consistent need.
Perhaps people who are driving with health concerns who shouldn’t be driving are only on the road because there is no other way to get to the grocery store. Who is willing to help?