I recently attended a very informative webinar on independent living for people with disabilities by Martyn Sibley. As someone with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Martyn knows his subject matter well.
From his website (http://martynsibley.com): " I am a regular guy who happens to have a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). This means I cannot walk, lift anything heavier than a book or shower myself."
However, Martyn's disabilities have not stopped him from getting his Master's, working full-time, advocating for for people with disabilities with a number of organizations, living on his own, traveling around the world, and opening his own business. Thinking about what he must do in a day makes me feel exhausted!
Transportation Accessibility in London: Putting Canada to Shame
Martyn is currently living in London, England. I was fascinated by his description of the transportation options available to people with disabilities in London. It seems that most of the cabs, buses and trains, are outfitted with an extendable ramp! Unheard of! People in wheelchairs being able to access *all* the buses, cabs, and trains? An accessibility dream!
[caption id="attachment_994" align="alignright" width="300"] London taxi cab[/caption]
I said to Martyn that I'd never seen that level of transportation accessibility in Canadian cities (basing this on what I've seen in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Montreal). The first (and last) time I heard people talking about improving the accessibility of Toronto's subway stations was when Toronto was trying to get the 2008 Summer Olympics (at that time there were still two stations that people in wheelchairs couldn't get into).
It really does beg the question: If London can have this level of transportation accessibility, why can't Canadian cities? I realize that money's tight and that it would require a mass re-outfitting of...everything. I don't expect it to happen overnight, the same way that I don't expect any massive change involving people with disabilities to happen overnight.
But I think that the transportation systems in our cities need to start asking themselves the same difficult questions that non-accessible businesses should be asking: How much business are the they losing by remaining inaccessible? Can they really afford, in this day and age, *not* to improve accessibility?
Besides the fact that it's just the right thing to do, as I've talked about in other posts...
Step it up, Canada. London's making us look bad.
More About Martyn
Martyn's conducting his next disability webinar from New York City, where he'll be on vacation. Lucky guy...gets to live in a city that I love, gets to vacation in another city that I love...check out his website for details on the webinars and for more information on his work.