BIGGEST “DISABILITY RIGHTS” STORY OF THE YEAR FOR ALL DISABLED PERSONS USING PARATRANSIT SERVICES & FIXED BUS ROUTES.

Disabled Veterans who have been Denied Paratransit Services should read this story.

New DOT Rule makes it harder for Paratransit to Deny Disabled Services

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Revives its Rules on Transportation for Individuals With Disabilities (Fully Favorable to Disabled)

The New Ruling affects all Public and Private Entities who are recipients of Federal Financial Assistance such as Metropolitan Buses and Trains and Access Paratransit as found in Cities like Los Angeles, California and its ilk.

The final rule in March of 2015 by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) makes clear that complimentary Paratransit Service like Access Paratransit in Los Angeles and other parts of California and the United States remains a shared-ride service that must meet regulatory criteria. And that in providing complementary Paratransit service, transit authorities must take reasonable steps, even if CASE-BY-CASE exceptions to general procedures, to make sure that eligible passengers can actually get to the service and use it for its intended purpose. ADA complimentary Paratransit remains a safety net for individuals with disabilities who cannot use accessible fixed route service. Adhering rigidly to policies that deny access to this safety net is inconsistent with the nondiscrimination obligations of transportation entities and would fundamentally alter their service, the basic safety net nature of complementary Paratransit Service.

DATES:  This rule is effective July 13, 2015.

This final rule is needed to clarify that public transportation entities are required to make reasonable modifications/accommodations to their policies, practices, and procedures to ensure program accessibility. While this requirement is not a new obligation for public transportation entities receiving Federal financial assistance including Amtrak.

Courts have identified an unintended gap in our Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. This final rule will fill in the gap.

The real-world effect will be that the nature of an individual’s disability cannot preclude a public transportation entity from providing full access to the entity’s service unless some exception applies.”

For example, an individual using a wheelchair who needs to access the bus will be able to board the bus even though sidewalk construction or snow prevent the individual from boarding the bus from the bus stop. The operator of the bus will be required to slightly adjust the boarding location so that the individual using a wheelchair may board from an accessible location.

WRITER’S NOTE: This includes MENTAL DISABILITIES as well, not just PHYSICAL DISABILITIES according the AMERICAN WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA). Paratransit Services and even Social Workers and Medical Personnel at the VA don’t openly disclose the fact to Veterans that they are entitled to Paratransit Services if they have one or more Mental Disabilities like Major Depressive Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, PTSD, Schizophrenia, etc., that keep them from riding fixed bus or train routes as well as on the bus itself.  Maybe some don’t know or have been ordered not to provide that information to Veterans, because I have personally heard Domiciliary Social Workers tell Veterans that they are not allowed to tell them. If the latter, I don’t know why, because its part of the information found in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enacted by Congress and public information. The VA Secretary should Order or VA Personnel to make Disabled Veterans aware of these ADA and DOT Regulations. In any event, if riding a bus or other available fixed route transit like subways or trains “stresses you out” because you can’t cope with people or crowds, among other things.

If you just have a Physical Disability and even though you can walk to a fixed bus or train route but you are UNABLE TO STAND for but a few minutes without collapsing due to your Physical Disability including but not limited to a severe spinal, knee, leg, or ankle injury, you are also entitled to be Approved for Paratransit Service because there is not always Disable Seating available or any seating at all.

As with a Physical Disability, you only need to bring a letter from your Psychiatrist stating the above, and that he or she strongly urges that you be approved for Paratransit because you are unable to access fixed routes most or all of the time.

If you have both a Mental and Physical Disability there is no reason why a Paratransit Service should Deny you Services.

However, if a Paratransit Services does Deny you Services for any reason whether you have a Physical and/or Mental Disability you have the RIGHT TO APPEAL their Decision, and they must provide you with the forms to make that Appeal.

If your Appeal is Denied you should contact Disability Rights California or the Disability Rights Agency paid for by the Federal Government that is in every state, i.e., Disability Rights New York, Disability Rights Ohio, etc., or a Private Disability Rights Attorney. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) may also be able to help you.

You can also file a complaint for resolution directly with the DOT. The phone numbers and email contacts are set located at the end of this story.

If after you have exhausted all of the above options, and only after you have exhausted these options and you are still being Denied Paratransit Service and you live in the Greater Los Angeles area, you may contact Veterans News Service Los Angeles @: vnsla@yahoo.com and we will try and assist you in this matter. 

LINK TO: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION 49 CFR Parts 27 and 37 [Docket OST–2006–23985] RIN 2105–AE15 Transportation for Individuals With Disabilities; Reasonable Modification of Policies and Practices                                                                            http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-03-13/pdf/2015-05646.pdf

______________________________________________________________

Federal Register/ Vol.  80,  No.  49/Friday,  March 13,  2015/ Rules  and  Regulations

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

Dated:  March 4, 2015

Sylvia M. Burwell,                                                                                                                                                            Secretary

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

49 CFR Parts 27 and 37

Transportation for Individuals With Disabilities; Reasonable Modification of Policies and Practices

AGENCY:  Office of the Secretary (OST), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT),

ACTION:  Final Rule

 SUMMARY:  The Department is reviving its rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (section 504), specifically to provide that transportation entities are required to make reasonable modifications/accommodations to policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure that their programs are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

DATES:  This rule is effective July 13, 2015.

This final rule is needed to clarify that public transportation entities are required to make reasonable modifications/accommodations to their policies, practices, and procedures to ensure program accessibility. While this requirement is not a new obligation for public transportation entities receiving Federal financial assistance including Amtrak.

Courts have identified an unintended gap in our Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. This final rule will fill in the gap.

For example, an individual using a wheelchair who needs to access the bus will be able to board the bus even though sidewalk construction or snow prevent the individual from boarding the bus from the bus stop. The operator of the bus will be required to slightly adjust the boarding location so that the individual using a wheelchair may board from an accessible location.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:                                                                                                                                                   Jill Laptosky, Office of the General Counsel,                                                                                                                     1200 New Jersey Avenue SE                                                                                                                                 Washington, DC 20590, room W96-488.                                                                                                           Phone: 202-493-0308                                                                                                                                     Email: jill.laptosky@dot.gov

For questions related to transit, you may contact:                                                                         Bonnie Graves, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Transit Administration                                                     same address                                                                                                                                                             Room E56-306                                                                                                                                                         Phone: 202-366-0944                                                                                                                                             Email: bonnie.graves@dot.gov

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