Five years before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act requiring nondiscriminatory transportation services, the city of Charlottesville  became the first city in Virginia to commit to making its entire public transit fleet accessible.  A year later, IRC persuaded the Charlottesville government to expand para-transit services within the urban ring; in 1987 operating hours were modified to include evenings and weekends.

Since IRC’s historic influence on the transportation system in the ’80s, IRC has continued to be the principle advocate for accessible transportation for people with disabilities in Planning District Ten. To ensure the  transportation system continues to sustain independence for disabled individuals, the Center periodically conducts “sensitivity training” with drivers and other staff of the Charlottesville transit system and the Jefferson Area United Transit (JAUNT). This training assists the drivers in providing more efficient and effective service for users. The Center has additionally been a strong advocate for equitable transit fares so as not to place an unfair burden on riders with disabilities.

Accompanying the changes to the local bus systems, IRC actively advocates improved infrastructure such as sidewalk, curb cut, crosswalk, and ramp improvements to create improved access throughout the region.  IRC also advocates strongly for both tactile and auditory warnings at key intersections in the area. Finally, the Center provides independent living skills training to local consumers with disabilities so they can utilize the accessible public transit facilities in the region.

IRC’s commitment to its goal of creating an environment in which disabled individuals can live as independently as they choose is no where clearer than in the work done advocating for accessible transportation. In addition to providing the necessary information for self-advocacy regarding laws already in place, IRC responds to the needs of the disabled community in a way that effects future lawmaking.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 16th, 2011 at 5:53 pm and is filed under Featured articles.