Transcript for TRACS Transportation Professionals Workshop, February 10, 2021

MARSHA SAXTON: Hello, welcome.

I’m Marsha Saxton with the World Institute
on Disability.

I’m the project director for this joint project,
TRACS, the Transportation Resiliency Accessibility

and Climate Resilience Project.

We’re now 2 1/2 years into the project.

We’ll eventually introduce all of our speakers
today, but I particularly would like to introduce

at the outset our partner with the Metropolitan
Transportation Commission, Drennen Shelton

and Shimon Israel, both from the Commission.

Again, welcome, everyone.

Also, I want to say thanks to our captioner
who is going to be providing closed captions

for the hearing-impaired participants.

And I think we’re ready to go to our first slide.

Okay.

As I said, the World Institute on Disability
and Metropolitan Transportation Commission

have collaborated for at least 2 1/2 years
on this research and information gathering

project.

We want to thank the California Department
of Transportation, CalTrans, for their funding

and their commitment to accessibility for
passengers who have disabilities.

Our theme for today’s workshop is ensuring
access is everyone’s job.

And this focuses particularly on transportation professionals.

Next slide.

Our agenda for today is welcome.

We’re doing quick introductions of our panelists
as we go through.

We’re going to briefly review TRACS outcomes
projects which will soon be posted on our

website, the World Institute on Disability.

We’re going to discuss our workshop goals.

We will briefly discuss disability basic concepts,
including universal design, and today we have

a panel of speakers and we will introduce
when we get there.

We will be very much welcoming recommendations
in this session.

And affirm our commitment to accessibility.

Okay.

TRACS is 2 1/2-year research, policy analysis
and public education initiative to improve

collaboration between transportation agencies
and people with disabilities in the nine-counties

of the San Francisco Bay area, which include
Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco,

San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.

This project is funded through the sustainable
communities focus of Caltrans SB1 grant program, and again,

Thank you to Caltrans for your commitment
to accessibility and for sponsoring this.

We have a question.

Yes, we will discuss the slides.

Our achievements, again, it will be posted
on our website on the World Institute on Disability,

with a potential to repost on other disability
agencies’ websites.

We have created a wonderful access — active
policy advisory board.

Some of you are joining us today.

We have completed our research documents and
we’ll continue to post new documents as we

can get them on our website.

We held multiple community workshops, focus
groups, interviews, events over our two years.

And these two workshops, this one today for
transportation professionals and next week

for disability community, passengers, activists
and so on, advocates, are our final workshops.

And we are completing this project at the
end of February.

DRENNEN SHELTON: Thanks to all of our participants
today in this webinar.

And to those who have participated along the
way, as we mentioned, this is our final event

focused for our colleagues who work at transportation
agencies.

We have a few goals for today’s workshop.

First, we’re going to focus in on a few wide-ranging
concepts of disability inclusion and these

concepts have broad applicability and should
be meaningful to your work regardless of your

job scope.

Second, we have a few speakers who will talk
about their experience working with and through

community advisory committees, the types of
working groups or councils that we’re all

very familiar with in our work at public agencies.

And lastly, our slogan for this workshop is
“ensuring access is everyone’s job.”

So we hope to solicit commitments from you
to go beyond your regular advisory councils

and make new contacts with disability organizations
in your area.

This will help to root the concept of accessibility
in your work and will help to improve accessibility

more widely in the Bay Area transportation systems.

So before we begin, I want to set the stage
and I want to share something that I recently

heard during the Senate confirmation of Pete Buttigieg hearing
for the secretary of transportation post.

Senator Tammy Duckworth said “accessibility
must be considered at the forefront of all

policy development rather than treating it
like an afterthought or a box checking exercise.

We really need strong leadership from you.”

I want us to all hear this quote from Senator
Duckworth and pretend that she is speaking

directly to us.

So with that, I’m going to turn it back to
Marsha who will kick us off with some of those

disability awareness basics.

MARSHA SAXTON: Okay, disability awareness
basics, this is a very cursory list.

I’ll elaborate a little bit, but we’re going
to keep emphasizing that part of our commitment

to ensuring access is creating long-term active
relationships with local disability organizations.

So there’s constant interchange and re-enforcement
of inclusion, accessibility and so on.

So this is just very brief introduction to
basic concepts of disability awareness for

those who may be new to this.

The first is we may have heard all our lives,
don’t ask, don’t stare at people with disabilities.

This may seem alright, but it keeps us uninformed.

So our suggestion is, if you need information,
respectfully ask.

And if you’re just curious, don’t ask because
it is intrusive, unless you’re friends.

There’s much more to say about that and we’ll
be able to have those dialogues.

And then the fear of saying something wrong,
the wrong word, is this rude and so on, is

confusing and staying away out of these fears
is part of the discrimination.

It prevents connection and adds to the isolation.

So the suggestion here is go ahead, take a
risk, connect as human beings with respect,

with common courtesy, connection is hugely important to moving this process forward.

Another is countering the stereotype that
people with disabilities are alone, lonely,

isolated, although we are during the lockdown
as everyone, but for people you’re going to

meet out and about, transportation, in the
city, you know, in ordinary life, people with

disabilities have whole lives.

Their disabilities are not the main focus
or the hardest thing in life. Next slide.

These are some technical distinctions we make
in disability awareness and disability studies.

The medical model is the old-fashioned model
of disability that locates the problem of

disability in that individual’s body.

So this may seem like common sense because,
well, the reason they don’t have that job

is they can’t climb the stairs to the office
building or the factory or whatever, but we

contrast that old model with the social model,
which locates the problems of disability in

discriminatory attitudes and policies and
barriers in the environment.

The social model arose in the 1970s and it’s
such a useful perspective because it enables

everyone to be able to do something about
the problem rather than fixing the person’s

body by medical intervention, which may not
be appropriate or useful, or possible, the social model

encourages accessibility and awareness.

Nothing about us without us is a fun slogan in
the disability community.

It’s now used worldwide, which challenges patronizing
assumptions that other people know best.

So people with disabilities are experts in
access and accommodations and should be included

in every step of planning and implementation of policy.

So nothing about us without us.

And so now just to reference to the full population,
people with disabilities, people with hidden

or invisible disabilities, for example, people
with arthritis, hearing impairment, cancer,

this hidden disability population is the majority
of this population and are equally entitled

to accommodations with wheelchair users or
blind people.

Now, wheelchair users and blind people have
visible disabilities, and you can tell that

they may need assistance of certain kinds
of accommodation, but this is also true with

people with hidden or invisible disabilities.

Okay.

Universal design is very interesting and important
to the evolution of the disability rights movement.

This is the typically called the seven qualities
of universal design.

It’s very much important, very useful in transportation.

And our goal is to fully implement these components
in transportation design and operation.

They’re pretty self-explanatory.

Equitable use means everybody or pretty much
everybody can use the facility, the vehicle, the resources.

And all seven of these are based on extensive
research, over decades, including the broadest

population of people with disabilities.

Do they include absolutely everyone?

Hopefully eventually.

Especially with new emerging technologies.

But we need to keep in mind that flexibility in
use, means there are adjustable components

to the design.

Simple and intuitive just means it makes sense
and it’s obvious.

Perceptible information may particularly refer to hearing impairment, visual impairments, make the information available

through Braille, through captioning and so on.

Tolerance for error really refers to if there’s
something unusual, there’s an accident or

emergency, and there are options, for example,
alternate exits.

Low physical effort refers to particularly
to wheelchair users and to people with deep

conditions where, you know, the ramp is not
too steep, and the level entrance is accessible

and easy to use.

Size and space for approach and use means
that there’s enough space for the capacity,

expected capacity of the facility or vehicle.

So people can move freely, the hallways are appropriately
wide and so on.

Okay.

Drennen.

DRENNEN SHELTON: Thank you, Marsha.

We hope you will keep these concepts handy
and that you will consider them as you do

your work.

I would ask that you print them out and maybe
post them upright next to your computer screens

because it’s these concepts that will animate
the existing laws and codes that we are already

following.

Like the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Under these codes and other laws, transportation
agencies are required to practice inclusivity

which we all do, all of our agencies conduct
public engagement, and we have citizen advisory

boards, and we take public comment.

And yet even here in the most progressive
Bay Area, transportation agencies continue

to design and implement projects and programs
that may meet the letter of the law but they’re

not accessible to people with disabilities.

We’ve all heard the angry voices and complaints
at our public meetings.

And I’ve been asked by more than a few colleagues
to explain and I’m just going to be brutally

honest in my phrasing here but I’ve been asked
to explain why people with disabilities are

so pissed off about our transportation systems.

These systems are all compliant with the ADA.

There’s nothing nefarious going on with the
transportation agencies trying to keep out

disabled people.

But for the great majority for people with
disabilities, our transportation systems simply

do not work.

And right now, we’re experiencing this unprecedented
and exciting wave of equity work.

All of our agencies are looking at how to
better design our systems and how to serve

the underserved.

And as we move forward into the future, we
need to be thinking about how to ensure that

our agencies are incorporating the disability
community more fully and that people with

disabilities play more of a role in designing
our transportation services.

Next slide, please.

So we have three presenters for you today.

Our speakers will talk about their experience
working with or through advisory boards or

councils.

And we’re going to have a Q&A session at the
completion of our three speakers.

But feel free to type questions into that
Q&A box as we go.

So first up we have Annette Williams.

Annette is the director of the accessible
services at San Francisco municipal transportation

agency and she’s been there since 1990.

Her team is responsible for accessibility
to SFMTA’s fixed route systems including trolley

and diesel bus, light rail, historic street
cars and cable car services.

Her office also manages the contract for San
Francisco paratransit and she’s also responsible

for overseeing accessible design and review
for transportation related capital projects

that includes public transit, bicycle, parking,
pedestrian access and the public right of

way.

There’s basically nothing in San Francisco
that Annette doesn’t touch.

So Annette, thanks for being with us here today. Take it away.

Annette, are you with us?

We know you’re logged in.

ANNETTE WILLIAMS: Sorry.

Sorry about that.

I was muted.

That doesn’t work very well, does it?

Can you see me and hear me now?

Sorry.

I was talking away to — I guess to my house.

Thanks for having me.

My name is Annette Williams, as Drennen
said, I’m the director of accessible services

at MTA.

And what Drennen and Marsha asked me to do
was talk a little bit about kind of my on

the ground experience in working with people
with disabilities and using that input to

make the system better.

And what we as an agency have done in that area.

And I’m not saying we’ve always been successful,
but we have a really long working relationship

with people with disabilities, and I’ll talk
a little bit about some of the things that

I think have worked well.

Next slide.

As Drennen said a little bit in the introduction,
we’re unique somewhat as a transit agency

because we have all — almost all the transportation
functions under one organization.

So not only do we do fixed route and paratransit,
but we also work with the bike share program

and the scooter share program and we regulate
taxi services and design and built the bike lanes.

So it gives us no excuses in terms of how
all of these things work together and how

do you make sure the whole system is accessible
to people with disabilities.

And we’re trying to push the envelope on things
like looking at adaptive bicycles and adaptive

scooters and looking forward, working a lot
on the whole question of TNCs and Uber and

Lyft and how we ensure that those services are accessible.

Just a little bit about the public transit
system, we do 700,000 trips a day.

It’s lower now since COVID.

Hopefully we’ll be coming back as we all get vaccinated.

About 150,000 of those trips are for seniors
and people with disabilities.

And in paratransit, we have about 12,200 paratransit
customers and do 700,000 trips a year.

Next slide.

Our advisory committees have been really important
to our success.

We’ve had a paratransit coordinating council
since the late ’70s.

We recently celebrated our 40th anniversary.

And multimodal accessibility advisory committee
has been working with us since the early 1980s.

And both of these committees are very active.

We meet at least monthly.

The paratransit coordinating council has subcommittees
of the different modes of our paratransit programs.

We have a taxi subcommittee which met today.

We have a group van subcommittee and SF access,
which is more traditional ADA service subcommittee.

What I think is somewhat unique with our PCC,
maybe it’s true of others in the Bay Area,

is that we bring a lot of stakeholders together.

Not just the customers, people with disabilities
that use the service, agencies that serve

people who use the service, but also the providers
themselves, drivers and provider representatives.

So that we can really hash and talk about
things and have kind of all the players in

one place.

I think that’s been really helpful.

In terms of the multi-modal accessibility
committee, that committee advises us on all

the other SFMTAs services, predominantly muni
but bicycle lane program, parking, other MTA

services that we do.

And I just wanted to mention, I think Drennen
talked a little bit about so how do you go

beyond your advisory committee.

Some of the things that I think have been
really helpful and it’s sometimes been working

with community organizations. About a year and a half ago we had a charette with our vision zero senior

disabled working group and we brought together
engineers working on separated bike ways as

well as customers, people with disabilities
who would either use transit stops or the

bike ways or have to crossover the bike ways
if they were parking buffered bikeways.

And we sat down in groups and really looked
at the nitty-gritty and how had engineers

hear from people with disabilities.

For people with disabilities to hear what
engineers were dealing with in terms of designing

these facilities.

Next slide.

So some of the important factors that I thought
in my career I think have — have been illustrative

in terms of this working relationship, one
is that you have to build relationships and

trust with people that are advising you so
they trust the advice they’re giving you,

you’re listening, that you’re hearing them
and I’m sure there are times when I haven’t

listened, or we haven’t listened in the way
that we should.

But I think that’s so important because you’ve
got to really hear what is it that people

are having challenging with, what works and
what doesn’t work.

And then following up in terms of what changes
have you made because of that input so that

you get back to them and say, here are the
things that we’ve done that address what you

had brought up.

And that’s the part of the acting on that
advice.

Another thing that I found is really important
is the geometry.

And I’ll show you a few examples.

Is you know, it comes often down to inches
or, you know, angles, like Drennen had talked

about earlier.

And that those things are very important and
who best to get information from but the people

who are actually using it and being able to
try it out and give you feedback, oh, yeah,

this works, this doesn’t work, this works
for my particular situation when I have a

walker, this doesn’t work well with my crutches.

So that we’re getting that information from
people directly.

And then another thing I think is always important
and I think we don’t in the accessibility

world always think about this is money.

We have to have funding.

If we don’t have funding, how do we implement
the things that are important to the disability

community?

So we need to be part of that, advisory committees
and staff need to be part of that decision

making when funding plans are drawn up.

And often we come late to that game.

So I think that that’s something where we
need to put more attention.

And then one other thing I think is important
to point out is that it’s important that in

the policy making arena that you have people
with disabilities.

Not only at the board level but at the staff
level and the more that people with disabilities

are integrated into the whole kind of, what,
hierarchy, board, staff, executive staff,

the better you’re going to be getting in terms
of having input.

So I think we’ve been fortunate to have quite
a few really active members of our board that

were and are people with disabilities and
I think that’s been really important.

So I just was going to show you a few examples.

Next slide, please.

So I don’t know how many people remember back
when we first started looking at low floor

buses.

When we first had accessible buses they were
all lift equipped.

Then with the manufacturers came up with was
a ramp that started at the door and went down

straight from the door to the street.

And in San Francisco it’s not realistic to
expect that every single time a wheelchair

user gets on or off a bus or a person with
a walker, someone else is not using the stairs

or needs that, is that they’re going to be
getting on from a curb.

Sometimes you have to get on the street.

And what we found with those lifts, by testing
them with those ramps, by testing them with

people with disabilities and our advisory
committee was that they were too steep.

If that ramp had to go down into the street,
two of your wheels would come up when you

tried to go up that ramp.

And so we worked for a long time with bus
manufactures to say, really, this doesn’t

work for all situations.

And we really need to have a longer run, meaning
that the ramp itself was longer so that the

slope didn’t have to be as steep.

And so we got a few different things.

And I think now almost all of the ramps that
you see out there do not start at the door

and go straight down.

Either they start within the vehicle already
sloping and then come out when it folds out

or they’re bifold like this one that you can
see the example.

That really came from people with disabilities
trying things out and saying, this works and

this doesn’t work.

Next — one other thing I wanted to mention.

In the paratransit world, one of the things
that we’ve done recently in terms of testing

is speed humps.

Speed humps are really important to pedestrian’s
safety because it slows the traffic on streets.

But we were very concerned about what are
the impact on people with disabilities if

they’re in a paratransit van and have to go
over that speed hump.

So we tested a number of different speed humps
with people in the vehicles and let them give

us their feedback, what worked and what didn’t.

And we’ve come up with one that has much more
gradual slope and a wider part at the top

and it’s made it much easier for people to
go over it.

And of course also you need to keep that lower
speeds, like 15 miles an hour.

Next slide, please.

So the next one is about securement areas.

Another thing that we noticed is in the original
early days almost always the securement areas

were right next to each other.

So that if one wheelchair user was already
in a securement on one side of the vehicle,

and another person came on, it was very difficult
to maneuver to get into that securement area

next to the individual that was already there.

There just wasn’t enough maneuvering room.

We decided a — and this is all based on consumer
input and our advisory committee, is we need

to stagger those securement areas.

And not only stagger them but also make them longer.

So that there is more room, not the 48 X 30
that was the minimum required but more like

55 X 30 so that there is a lot more room to
be able to turn around and to back in and

to have more flexibility.

Next slide, please.

Another thing that one of our advisory committee
members came up with is, you know, if you’re

an individual are who isn’t sighted or is
low vision, it’s very difficult to see, even

if it’s a large bus number at the front of
the bus, if you want to make a complaint or

you want to provide feedback, you want to
be able to get that bus number without having

to ask another customer.

And so one of our advisory committee members,
Jewel McGinnis, came up with the idea, why

don’t we put the bus numbers in Braille in
large raised letters, raised numbers so that

if we have all of — if we have all of our
buses with that number in the same place right

behind the driver, on that panel, people can
find it if they want to find it on their own

and not have to ask.

Next slide.

And then recently we’ve all had to do a lot
of kind of quick thinking with our response

to COVID.

And to the needs that people with disability have.

In San Francisco we’ve had to cut back some
of our meeting lines to reduce to the core

service so that traditionally almost every
person who lives in San Francisco has a bus

line within like four blocks.

But with the cutbacks in service to our more
core service there is much longer distances

that people had to travel.

And so what we did was implemented this program
called the essential trip card, ETC card,

which provides to any senior or person with
disability a small amount, $60 per month,

in taxi value that they can use for essential
trips.

And the reason we were able to implement that
program so quickly is all the work that people

with disabilities had helped us with to implement
the debit card within our paratransit program.

We were able to take this program that we
had done for another purpose and translate

that technology and do something very quickly.

And we were fortunate because we’ve been working
on a grant with the health department to do

a special program at a few of our underserved
health clinics in terms of transportation

barriers so we had set up a taxi program for
that and we already had kind of a registration

method using Google forms and we were able
to just quickly translate that and use that

for the ETC program and within two weeks we
had something up and running and we were able

to collect all of this data, like the disability
of the person, what trip needs they had, what

ethnic groups they come from, so that we can
see, are we really meeting the needs across

the city, are we meeting the needs of — are
we meeting needs in an equitable way.

A lot of that was because we mad done a lot
of work with our advisory committee and gotten

their feet back before.

Another thing I think is important — next
slide — is, you know, is to celebrate volunteers.

Most people who work on these advisory committees
are available to us as staff when we call

and say, what do you think about this idea,
do you have any ideas.

You know, they’re volunteers.

They’re not getting paid for this effort.

And so one of our advisory committee members
said, we already do an annual meeting in November

and we have a big luncheon and celebrate the
drivers but she said, we really need to do

something that celebrates the PCC.

So we started an annual luncheon and we usually
go to a museum or cultural event and often

get docents able to take us on an accessible
tour and we have a lunch together and we get

to build on those relationships in a personal
way and not just always working.

So this is a picture of one of our previous
luncheons at the D. Young Museum.

You can only tell because of the dimple building
in the background.

People on our PCC, not only the people with
disabilities that use our service but also

providers and drivers and there’s a lot of
relationships that have been built through that work.

I just included at the end my contact information,
e-mail is the best right now with working

from home.

So feel free if anyone has any questions that
we don’t get to today, feel free to contact

me.

And I like this picture of San Francisco.

It’s a picture looking down Market Street,
downtown, and there’s no sales force tower yet.

So it’s an old one.

But I think it’s a nice picture of our city.

We’re fortunate because we’re a dense city
and we’re able to only really serving about

50 square miles, which is a lot easier than
a lot of the services that many of you have

in terms of meeting the needs of our dense community.

So the next slide just has a few resources
for those of you who get these slides afterwards.

You can gain access to our website and different
areas on paratransit, on the services that

we’re doing during COVID, on the ETC program.

There’s a nice video there that shows how it works. And some of our other services.

So thanks a lot for having me.

I think — I really believe a lot of our success
has been because we have worked so closely

with people in the disability community and
seniors to hear what’s important to them and,

you know, and I think it was mentioned earlier
because of universal design, if you design

things that work well for people with disabilities
and seniors, often they work better for everyone.

Like the calling out stops on the vehicles
with automated announcements, you know, all

of us now are benefiting from that, or the
overhead signs that tell you what the next

stop is.

There are so many means that have benefited
many more people than the people with disabilities

that have really advocated for them.

So thanks a lot.

I appreciate your time.

DRENNEN SHELTON: Thank you, Annette.

I want to remind our participants that we
are soliciting your questions in the Q&A box.

But up next we have Ernest Rogers.

Ernest is the chair of the Solano Paratransit
Coordinating Council and member of the Solano

Consolidated Services Agency Advisory Committee.

He has worked in a variety of initiatives
and programs focused on youth mentorship and works

with inmates at San Quentin as a sponsor in leadership
training programs and assisting individuals

who are getting ready to return home.

Ernest was born with osteogenesis imperfecta
and he is a public transit user.

Ernest, take it away.

ERNEST ROGERS: Thank you.

Thank you.

Annette, you did a great job.

Thank you.

I’d like to thank everyone for having me here
today.

I’m going to take it from a different level
because the reason why I became — I’m a volunteer.

The reason why I became a member of the Solano
County paratransit coordinating council is

because I was having transportation issues.

Being disabled, number one, let me take you
back.

Since I’ve been disabled and I look way younger
— I was born in the ’50s and so I was raised

DRENNEN SHELTON: Ernest, Ernest —

ERNEST ROGERS: — people to do —
DRENNEN SHELTON: Ernest, we’re having trouble

with your audio.

It’s just slow.

Maybe if you turn your camera off and continue
speaking, it may come through a little bit

clearer.

ERNEST ROGERS: Do what now?

DRENNEN SHELTON: I’m suggesting maybe if
you turn your camera off and continue speaking

we will be able to hear you clearer.

Oh.

Well, I think we lost him.

Okay.

There he is.

Good.

ERNEST ROGERS: Is that better?

DRENNEN SHELTON: Yeah, let’s give it a shot.

ERNEST ROGERS: I will cut my camera off
though because you don’t really need to be

seeing me.

Can you hear me?

ANNETTE WILLIAMS: So much better.

Maybe it was just — that may have taken care
of it.

ERNEST ROGERS: Okay.

What I’m saying is basically I’m going to
take it from a different angle.

I’m going to explain about the changes I’ve
seen in the disability world dealing with

public transportation.

I was born in the south.

I was raised in the south.

I was raised in the ’60s and ’70s.

I was raised in the ’60s and went to college
in the ’70s when there was no ADA.

When the idea of a person with a disability
was really not even to be seen basically.

Less known to be heard.

But as time has gone on and as I’ve grown
and as I’ve tried to do more for myself and

other people with disabilities stepped up,
we seem to have been able to improve the services.

So I joined the Solano County Paratransit
Council because of that.

I got caught one night late at night around
10:00, 11:00 at night away from the house

and unable to get to the house by bus.

So that’s basically where I come from.

Now, Solano County hasn’t changed much.

We’re a different county from San Francisco.

Are you guys hearing me?

Nope?

ANNETTE WILLIAMS: Yes, we are.

We can hear you.

ERNEST ROGERS: You are, okay.

All right.

I seem to be running fast because I’m nervous.

But being caught late at night, far away from
home, blocks away from home, not feeling well

and not able, I felt like I needed to make
my voice heard so I went to a paratransit

meeting I was told about on the bus.

When I went I was able to make my input but
be it wasn’t just my input, I know that the

people there really cared so they developed
trust.

Another thing I found out through my years
of being disabled is the fact that they do

want to design stuff without our consent or
without any knowledge, foreknowledge, behind

knowledge, any kind of knowledge about what
does it take really to make — help a person

to move seamlessly throughout society or
especially mobile issues.

Now, one of the things I’ve learned to I can’t
— I lived with all types of people and one

of the people I love to work with are veterans.

But the thing I find myself hurting when I
talk to a veteran is I really don’t understand

where they come from sometimes.

But I can understand — I can feel — I can
empathize with them when they lose a limb

or when they lose their ability to move about freely.

Being always asked for people to help you
is a burden.

Number one, on you.

Number two, maybe on the people that are dealing
with you.

So that puts a burden on the people with disabilities
to want to be able to move about, want to

be able to go because sometimes you need someone
to go with you because you’re scared of what

might happen.

You might need somebody because you don’t
know if there’s going to be a hole

in the road, if there’s going to be any of
those means.

So that’s why I joined the council.

We have grown quite a bit.

We have changed a lot of things.

We have done a lot of the things that were
mentioned in the — from — by Annette with

the disability population.

Some of my suggestions were made.

I made some suggestions and I saw them — I
saw them take fruit.

And I saw how we changed.

Solano County is a little different than San
Francisco.

We got a bigger region and people are way
more spread out than a lot of the areas in

San Francisco.

We deal with a place called Rio Vista.

That’s way out and they have an elderly population
of people who have just became mobility-challenged.

Okay.

So we have to work with them.

And we’re trying to work them into a system
where we can bring them in to where the hospitals

are and we have taken all their advice.

We even had meetings in their town so they
could come.

We try to make everything as approachable
or as reachable as possible.

So that’s the basic thing about what I do.

Another thing I found out is advocacy.

People with disability needs people that advocate
for them.

Not only because, oh, I feel — but, no, because
I really see the need.

You know, the people — we try not to ask
so much because we don’t want to seem like

a bunch of needy people but we do need certain
things.

The only way you get it is to ask.

The Bible says you have not because you ask not.

So we begin to ask, we begin to let our voices
be heard.

And that’s how come a lot of changes have
been — are being made.

There’s another program we have in Solano
County for the elderly called Go-Go grandparent.

We hook up with a group and we have them elderly
person can get — it’s almost like Uber or

Lyft, pick them up and take them where they
got to go.

Call back and let the people know they made
it safely.

They pick them up and do the same thing.

We have initiated all kinds of stuff in Solano
County to help people with disabilities.

The paratransit — I’m going to tell you the
truth.

I don’t use paratransit only because I’m too,
I guess, how I want to say it?

Because with paratransit you have to set a
schedule.

And me, I don’t necessarily live by schedules.

I do what I want to do when I want to do it.

I think that’s the best thing about living,
is the fact that you can do the thing that

you want to do when you want to do it.

That’s another reason why I joined the Solano
County paratransit authority, is because I

do appreciate the idea of being able to get
to a bus stop that’s not far from my house.

Being able to talk to them and say, hey, look,
I need a little change on the route maybe

that will help a lot of people with disability.

Being able to communicate that way.

Makes it easier for me and for my friends
who like to assist me or who like to go with

me even.

So those are the things that I wanted to express
at this meeting, is that first of all, another

thing, I would like to thank everybody because
it’s your input, it’s your passion to go out

and ask people for their input that has made
this thing a whole lot better than it used

to be.

I remember when there wasn’t a bus for a person
with disability to even get on.

Less to be a person of color to sit on the
back of the bus.

We were not even allowed a seat on the bus.

But now that has changed.

So these things are part of society.

And as —
[Audio breaking]

Hello?

DRENNEN SHELTON: Yes, thank you, Ernest.

You went out there at the end but I think
we understand what you’re saying.

ERNEST ROGERS: I was basically saying if
they have any questions about how the — how

I have seen the ADA work from 1990 until now
I would be glad to help.

Still need a lot of improvement but it’s a
lot more being done.

Just ask.

I’m better at answering questions than I am
about giving stuff.

Okay?

DRENNEN SHELTON: Thank you.

Understood.

Thank you.

So I do want to remind our participants about
the Q&A box.

If you have any questions or comments, feel
free to type them in.

And then our last speaker today is Susan Rotchy.

Susan is the executive director of Independent
Living resources of Solano and contra Costa

Counties.

She is a member of various advocacy committees
around the Bay Area including the Blue-Ribbon

Transit Recovery Task Force that’s helping
to guide the future of Bay Area’s transportation

systems as we adjust to our new reality under COVID.

She’s a user of public transportation and
my favorite fact about Susan is that she is

a former Ms. Wheelchair California.

She’s a real live beauty queen.

Susan, thanks for being with us today and
the floor is yours.

SUSAN ROTCHY: I’m Susan Rotchy,

and I am the executive director of Independent Living Resources.

My background is I was in a car accident 25 years ago.

And actually to be really honest, I always
thought ADA was in place until it became me, right?

Go back to school.

Figure it out, paratransit, took that for
about two years.

Had a lot of problems.

Learned to be an advocate for people with
disabilities.

And that is how my beginnings started 25 years ago.

You know, I’ve seen it evolve in transportation.

It has –Ernest is right, it has improved.

One of the reasons it has improved is because
consumers or clients like us with disabilities

make the change, right?

Ernest gets on a committee.

I get on a committee.

There’s very few people on those committees on transportation that actually ride transit to work or

actually go to school.

I mean, there’s a lot of people that are making
decisions about what we do and they don’t

even ride the bus.

Right?

So — and I’m sure Ernest can tell you stories
where we have been left behind.

I personally have.

And — been left behind or waiting outside
in the pouring rain for an hour for paratransit.

I mean, we can talk about some stories and
share and feeling like we are just second-class

citizens.

Yes.

But we have — we’ve made great strides.

We absolutely have.

But it takes a team to make great strides.

And I’m only speaking in Solano County probably
because Ernest is right, we’re always on Jim’s and Ron

and Darrel’s, you know, just on their behind
to make change, you know, and not accept — it’s

coming, it’s coming.

You know.

You have to be involved.

And because I also am the director of the
Independent Living center we have a lot of

complaints about transportation.

And I feel their pain because I know.

I’ve ridden the bus.

One summer when gas got so high I just refused
to pay the price and I decided I was going

to ride the bus every day all summer.

And the first day I rode the bus I said, I’m
never riding that Solano Express again because

it took me three hours to get to work and
it should have only taken me an hour and 15 minutes.

But the lift didn’t work. The bus driver didn’t know how to use the lift.

And we’re talking – this was five years ago, less than 5 years ago.

So when consumers call, I tell them, hey,
paratransit isn’t that reliable, let’s get

you travel trained to ride the regular bus.

But some people just can’t.

They live out in the country.

They don’t have that option.

So you know, we do — we have made great strides.

And in Solano County we have a program — as
Ernest talked about, Go-Go Grandparent.

We also have a rideshare program that several
of the nonprofits use a wheelchair accessible

van for seniors and people with disabilities.

And I do sit on various committees as well
as I am an advocate for, you know, all disabilities,

whether it’s someone that’s vision impaired
and at times some of my staff or my consumers

that are vision impaired, you know, the simplest
task could be, hey, announce the bus stop,

announce the right bus stop.

That doesn’t take any money.

Right?

It just takes education and pick up and let
us know what bus stop you are at.

Right?

So some takes money.

So you know, that’s what we always fight for.

But some does not.

And also, you know, the other thing that really
goes a long way is courteous.

Drivers, education, courteous.

You know?

Compassion.

And not telling a client or a passenger, hey,
the next bus is going to come in 20 minutes

or 45 minutes because my lift doesn’t work
and you didn’t check the lift before you left.

So you know, courtesy from drivers is, you
know, also — it’s how you present it.

You know, just like how we present ourselves.

The other thing I wanted to talk about really
quick is bus schedules and also because of

COVID right now, you know, feeling safe in
this environment.

You know, in how we get our transit users
back on the bus and on BART.

And that’s what the task force team, the blue
ribbon task force team is working on right now.

And hopefully that — to reassure you guys,
right now transit is taking some great precautions

to get us back on the bus.

Some of the bus schedules have been delayed.

You know, in other words, decrease because
we don’t have enough transit users.

So until we start getting more transit users
will we get a lot of the schedules back up

on track.

If you have — I don’t want to repeat a lot
of the stuff that Ernest has said because

we both live in the same county.

In Contra Costa County I do ride the bus and
I have to admit, Contra Costa County the one

thing I really like about Contra Costa County
you can ride the bus until 10:00 p.m. and

in Solano that doesn’t happen.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

ERNEST ROGERS: We’re working on it, Susan,
in Solano County.

We’re working on it.

SHIMON ISRAEL: Well, I guess now is the
time that we turn to the question-and-answer

period.

We’ve got these great panelists.

A lot of good discussion and presentation.

And we want to open it up to folks in the
Q&A box.

Take a look.

See if there are any questions yet.

No questions yet.

Maybe as everyone is kind of getting ready
with ideas, thinking about what they might

want to ask.

To our panelists, anything, any best practices
that have not been covered yet in terms of,

you know, things about committees, about being
the most effective that you can be in meetings

or about best practices for transit vehicle
operation, anything that we have not touched on?

ERNEST ROGERS: I would like to say that
one of the best practices that we found in

Solano is the fact that we have these meetings
where we involve all of the communities.

We get to like a senior citizen center and
then we ask the people there do they have

any question or comments about public transportation
or what can we do to better it.

And that seems to work well.

If you do it in different communities and
in different locations in the communities,

it seems to make, number one, it makes it
— what do I want to say?

It makes the transit authority look like it’s
involved in the community, which it is.

And it makes it look like it’s more accessible,
which we hope it does.

And then it makes people feel more like something
is going to be done, because I can say what

I want to say and then later on I can see
it happening.

SHIMON ISRAEL: We’ve got a question from Jeff, Do you think that forming relationships with elected officials

is helpful and any tips on doing so?

SUSAN ROTCHY: I’ll answer that.

I believe that —

ERNEST ROGERS: I would like to answer that

one, too.

One of the locations that we have, I have
found it very helpful to contact public preachers

to kind of help push my age a little bit.

But not only that, it develops a relationship
with public figures.

And it does help.

It does help.

And — they do listen because now as we begin
to take more — more to voting, more to being

heard, more to being seen, it does help.

SHIMON ISRAEL: And Susan?

SUSAN ROTCHY: I think that consumers should
absolutely contact their state legislator.

Their assembly member, and talk to them about
how they — how we can make change because

a lot of those legislators — actually most
of the legislators, all of them, do sit on

various transportation committees.

So when you talk to their aide, the legislative
aide, they really do take your information

to heart.

I always talk to our consumers at our agency,
we do at times help them draft a letter to

the legislator.

Not just also participate in capitol action day.

And we go with a list of things that we need
in our community and these are all people

with various different disabilities.

So absolutely, contact your legislator and
contact, you know, whether it’s your nearest

Independent Living center and work with them
on advocacy and then the one thing I have

to admit even during this pandemic now, you’re
able to participate on Zoom and ask questions

because, before, it was really hard to attend
those meetings for some people with disabilities.

And so, you know, good — that’s another good
practice.

So yeah.

ANNETTE WILLIAMS: I think another thing
with policymakers is they hold the purse strings.

They often — that’s where the funding comes
from.

The so it’s important to foster those relationships,
you know, one of the things that we worked

on in the last few years was this whole issue
of accessibility to TNCs to Uber and Lyft

and the legislator had to pass a law in order
to set up the access fund to force really

the TNCs to include accessible services as
part of their service.

And there’s money attached with that.

And I think that, you know, without having
the legislature do that it probably wouldn’t

be able to happen.

Especially because it’s regulated by the state.

SHIMON ISRAEL: Any creative approaches to recruiting new PCC members?

Do any of the PCCs offer any incentives other than paying transportation costs to attend meetings?

ANNETTE WILLIAMS: I can answer, one of the things that we do is have elections in November for — at

the annual meeting for the executive committee.

So we try to get a broader group of people
to come and there are different affinity groups.

There are people with disabilities, people
who are older adults, and then agency representatives.

Then you know, I think that makes it, you
know, they’re representing others, not just

themselves but they’re representing others.

And I think that that has had some help.

Other thing I think is to reach out to organizations
and — we had a lot of work with the — it’s

called San Francisco school district access
program.

And they work with people with intellectual
and developmental disabilities who have finished

high school and are now doing a lot of living
skills.

And a lot of the people from that group have
gotten more involved in our advisory committee.

And they’re very, you know, very rampant transit
users.

So sometimes it’s connecting with one person that can get you connected with others who might be interested.

Word of mouth is sometimes the way that people
— to actually get somebody to do something

new, it’s usually someone has to tell them,
you should try this out.

Or they have an experience like Ernest mentioned
that got him involved.

It’s often hearing from somebody else, you
can have a voice here, you can make a difference,

you want something to change.

That’s been my experience anyway that it’s
word of mouth that often gets people to actually

act and come to meetings and to say, oh, well,
maybe I want to be a member of that committee,

too.

SHIMON ISRAEL: Okay, we have a couple more
questions.

One.

There’s been a big push to provide less parking
for development projects but the amount of

disabled parking is still based on a percentage
of overall parking.

As an amputee who counts every step I wish
the percentage requirement of disabled parking

is looked at again.

This is true even at BART stations and other
locations.

ANNETTE WILLIAMS: Unfortunately we don’t
have someone here from BART.

We don’t have parking at our stations.

In San Francisco, we don’t have any parking.

Unfortunately.

There’s street parking and we work towards
— as the person was mentioning, the pro ag,

4% on the streets of accessible blue zones.

There has been a lot of work that’s gone on
in terms of disabled parking and parking reform

because we do believe sometimes spaces are
filled up all day by somebody with a placard

who, you know, then the spaces are not available
to people with disabilities who may be coming

for shorter periods of time and maybe that
person doesn’t really need it for proximity.

That’s frustrating for people with disabilities
because often then you can’t get to the front

door where you’re trying to go because all
the blue spaces have been filled since 6:00

in the morning when people came to work.

SHIMON ISRAEL: Agreed, yeah.

Susan, did you want to add something?

I thought maybe I saw a hand.

SUSAN ROTCHY: We do have a lot of consumer
complaints about the parking, not having enough.

Since these are the Baby Boomers, they’re aging.

And they’re having also difficulty walking.

There’s just not enough.

And Annette is correct, we’ve had a lot of
people complain about, you know, someone that

works in the city parks there all day and
then someone that needs to get to an appointment

in San Francisco for a medical appointment
is unable to get that parking spot because

somebody has been there because they’re working
parking all day.

Yeah.

ANNETTE WILLIAMS: And we had a committee,
disabled advisory committee on accessible

parking a number of years ago and
there were recommendations to charge for blue

zones because part of the reason, at least
they found in other states, that those spaces

get filled up all day is because it’s free
and you can leave it there for three days.

And so then there isn’t the turnover that’s
needed for disabled people who want to park

for short period of time or come for a number
of hours because they’re parked up.

And it’s not just blue zone, it’s all the
parking spaces because you can use a placard

in any space and not have to pay for parking.

So there is — there’s some desire to have
statewide — at least options for cities to

be able to implement that.

You know, limiting the time and potentially
charging and maybe then having like a low-income

amount for people who are lower income.

Because the reason that there was no charge
in the first place had more to do with the

ability to pay because the meters weren’t
accessible and there wasn’t an accessible

way to pay.

And what it’s morphed into is people using
it some maybe that don’t need it because they

like the convenience and the fact they don’t
have to pay.

And it just takes going to a doctor and having
your certified that you need it.

But they found in some states where it went
way down, like huge — many more spaces were

available when they started to charge for
parking because all of a sudden those people

who were parking there all day weren’t taking
advantage of that.

SHIMON ISRAEL: Good insight.

Next question, what is a good committee make
up to ensure people are trusted, respected

and heard?

Disabled riders are clearly important but
I have found that the they often can only

provide input with respect to their particular issues.

Those are important but often leave the full
committee without the entire situation.

I found that agencies that represent people
with disabilities have a more universal perspective

but don’t necessarily speak from personal
experiences. So how do we get the balance right?

Susan, do you want
to take this one?

SUSAN ROTCHY: So I think that, first of
all, we need to start placing people with

disabilities in leadership roles, right?

That’s the first thing.

And also — or putting some really doing a
survey and getting some people that are transit

rider, low income, a senior on a committee,
because I do sit on a panel, several panels,

and like I said, I’m sure Ernest and I are
the only transit users, right?

And they all have an opinion of what to say.

But never been left behind or discriminated
against because, hey, we have 40 able-bodied

passengers on the bus, there will be another
bus for you.

Right?

So we need to get people with disabilities
in leadership roles, sitting on those committees

or doing some breakout workshops or, hey,
let’s — if you’re having an in-person meeting,

get there by public transit and let’s see
how your work has really been done.

Okay.

I’m going to get off my soap box.

ERNEST ROGERS: I like what Susan said.

She’s right.

She and I have been on the only two in the
room, but really?

The thing is if they’re in a leadership role,
one of the things you have to find out about

people is you’ve got to find people that are
empathetic, who look at other things, just

not only from their side but from other people’s side.

I know we have a young lady on one of our
committees, she’s disabled, rides the chair

and she only looked at it from her side.

I be trying to tell her a lot of things we
can’t change because we don’t have that right

or we don’t have that kind of change.

But we can ask, you know, be sympathetic with
them.

And I think that’s the biggest thing.

You have to have people on the panel that’s
even — that can empathize and see from other

people’s perspectives and also surveys.

Surveys do good because a person can be six
feet in a wheelchair and a person that’s four

feet in a wheelchair, there’s a difference
right there.

You know.

So it just has to be — got to be a medium
ground.

You have to have someone that can empathize
and understand how to go between those two

grounds.

A leadership role would help.

ANNETTE WILLIAMS: I think that people who
work together for a period of time with different

disabilities, they become aware of the issues
that their fellow users are dealing with.

I think also like just the citizens — with
have a citizens advisory committee that is

made up of all different types of people and
having people with disabilities on that committee

as well to be speaking from that voice, because
I think there’s not enough cross pollination

and often people who are not disabled really
don’t understand the challenges that people

with disabilities face in using public transportation.

And they needed educating.

And that’s why like you were saying, having
policymakers and those in executive positions

to have disabilities, then they’re in the
room when those things are brought up and

they can bring up their personal experience
or what they’ve learned from their work.

But I do think that people who work for a
period of time become aware of other people

with disabilities and their needs as well.

And not just their own.

Like you were saying, the empathy and the
understanding and even just, you know, knowing

the things that are important to, say, a person
who is blind or a person who is deaf, you

learn it from hearing from those people directly.

SHIMON ISRAEL: Very good.

Empathy is good for sure.

We do have just one comment.

So California Commission on Disability Access
would be the place to take the parking issue

up.

And I did want to open the Q&A to anyone else
who had a question for the panelists.

It seems like we may be at the end.

We have a bit left on the presentation.

Maybe we’ll resume there then?

Shall we?

All right.

This is actually my slide.

Okay.

So these are recommendations that we wanted
to share for transportation agencies.

And we don’t presume to know what’s best.

These are some highlights that have been revealed
from our project.

2020 was very much a year of discussion about
equity.

And one of the things that kind of came to
surface is discussion of pipelines.

How do you get people into the relevant professions
that have the relevant experience?

This is something that we want to investigate
in MTC but we feel that internship programs

are a good vehicle for people to get the right
people and the right positions and to get

movement generally of people who have kind
of — that come from the disability community

into planning professions.

The next point, we want to foster relationships
with go-to organizations within your county.

The first stop will be your centers for independent
living and we’ll provide a list on the WID website

as a product of this project.

You want to have trusted relationships with
people in the community so you can just pick

up the phone and have a sounding board if
there are plans or service changes that may

impact the disability community.

It does not — not every event needs to be
a full-scale community outreach activity.

Sometimes you just want to have a little bit
of insight or perspective that can be represented

in your work.

You want to partner with community agencies
to do the outreach.

Transit agencies and MTC may not have the
best relationship or the reputation with the

public and I see that as an MTC employee.

Sometimes it can be helpful to have the local
touch, have a trusted agency which has a good

relationship with the community, who may have
more ongoing direct engagement.

And it can be good to have those folks on
retainer, so consider paying for those services.

Either one agency or a bench or group of agencies
can be helpful.

And then you want to participate in county
and regional emergency planning.

So from time to time there are tabletop exercises
for emergency actions.

You want to engage with them and practice,
practice, practice.

Be connected on the county level but also
be mindful of regional exercises as well.

Every county has a different liaison in terms
of setting these up.

For some those are sheriff’s departments,
others are health departments.

We’re going to add a list of those contact
resources also on the WID resources page that

we’re developing.

And so to the last point, you know, you want
to include disability and access into equity

frameworks and analyses.

So we have antiracist and antidiscrimination policies.

We perform equity analyses to measure dispirit
impacts of projects.

But at present we don’t — at least most of
those types of equity analyses don’t include

disability and access.

We have our own work to do in our own house
at MTC when we evaluate future projects for

regional transportation plan.

Historically disability has not been included
as one of the metrics.

Related to this, I will make a plug for MTC’s
coordinated plan, which will include some

off the shelf approaches for developing equity
analyses.

And that’s still in development.

But these are in general hard to put in practice
and they’re not fully developed but continue

to engage with us.

It’s all of our responsibilities to promote
access and that’s been a theme of this presentation.

But do continue to reach out and be engaged
as we develop this together.

DRENNEN SHELTON: Thanks, Shimon.

We just about reached the end of our time
together today.

Hopefully you’ve learned something new or
that you’ve heard something that will inspire

you to expand how you include accessibility
issues in your work.

But we don’t want you to stop here.

We would like to ask for your commitment today
to establish or strengthen your relationships

with the disability community.

We want you to be the champion who voices
accessibility issues and perspectives at your work.

We want you to start by reaching out to a
member of your own agency’s advisory board

or to your local Independent Living resource
center and tell them you heard this presentation.

Tell them that you’re seeking to include their
perspectives in your work.

Go beyond that box checking exercise and look
to really incorporate the disability lens

in your work.

It’s not going to be easy.

And it’s going to feel awkward at times and
you may be afraid that you’re making a mistake

of some kind

But I want you to remember, Senator Duckworth’s
words to you that we need strong leadership

from you on this front.

Okay.

And so in the coming weeks we will definitely
follow up with everyone who attended today

or who was registered.

We’re going to provide this presentation and
more resources to you.

We want to help get you started on this.

And I just want to thank everyone for your
time and attention and your commitment to

ensuring accessibility.

Thank you.


If you are having technical issues or accessibility issues on this site, email wid@wid.org.

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