By Kurt, 2019-09-30
Kurt Roskopf is planning for Awesome Autumn Ability Fest 2020 to be at the Golf Club at Camelot in Lomira (W192 Hwy 67) 53048. The date is selected in April based on the Packer Schedule. The event is designed to be very hospitable and entertaining for everyBODY that does not golf.
If folks would like to be a part of the planning committee for this event, contact Kurt now: email@example.com facebook.com/roskopfs 262-372-1754
By Kurt, 2019-05-19
Exploring leadership and empowerment through the lens of disability
Words and regulations are meaningless without creating the cultural support to back them up.
Uber, as I mentioned, we the Disability Community are happy to work with you to make things much better.
Uber Has A Long Way To Go To Stop Discrimination And Foster Disability Inclusion
Uber Has A Long Way To Go To Stop Discrimination And Foster Disability Inclusion Vivia Horn, Graphic Design
Walking with two canes means getting on the crowded subway and bus can be dangerous and tiring for me. So, for as long as I’ve been alive, taxi or most any car has been the easiest way for me to travel.
I'm famous among my friends for how much I love talking to drivers from all over the world, hearing about their families, their home countries, their lives. This makes what I'm about to write even more devastating and unacceptable. Uber has been notorious for its poor treatment of women in the boardroom, its politics, and among people with disabilities for trying to rise above Americans with Disabilities Act regulations (surreptitiously arguing that they are an app company not a transportation service). Yes, really.... Now, apparently Lyft is following their bad example and claiming the same in court.
This morning, the rideshare drivers themselves, with the Uber IPO looming on Friday, have taken to the streets to put an end to poor treatment and little pay. Uber has not only forsaken their drivers, but the riders who need them the most.
Saturday night recently, in Naples, Florida, one of the friendliest cities I’ve known, my walker-rolling best friend and I were visiting family in a gated community and as we do when it's too late, we called an Uber to bring us back home. The driver took about 15 minutes to get to us, and as is usual, he called for the gate code. I cheerfully gave it to the driver and we headed toward the door to wait for his arrival. I was excited to meet him because he shared a name with one of my close friends. So when he pulled up, I walked toward the car and as I approached, I boomed a jovial “Hello! Good to see you! Can you help my friend with her walker?”
He didn't respond and as I got closer, began backing up his car very slowly. Oddly slowly. We assumed he must be making way for us to get in, but as the backing up continued further and further away, a family member said "Where are you going?" To which he replied “I cancelled the ride,” and when he gave no further explanation, I suddenly realized that without question, for the first time in my life, without a doubt, we were being left behind simply because of our apparent disabilities. This is different than being passed by while hailing. This man was assigned to us. He was the chosen one. I felt sorry for the Uber driver, thinking of the conversations we could have had, and simply said “God bless you,” as he backed away - my family member had a more visceral response saying: “You should be ashamed of yourself. What kind of human are you?” I intervened and tried to calm my family. My goal in the moment was simply to stay calm, not take it personally, and think of the many people in our lives who do love and embrace us.
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My first thought after our Uber driver left and we waited for our next one (who took another 15 minutes to get to us) was there GOT to be better training, so this does NOT happen to anyone else. My family member’s first thought was call the sheriff saying, “what he's done is illegal.” It is indeed illegal, but I said “Let me think about this before we do anything rash,” and thought it best to address this with Uber directly because I am aware of the sheer power of community I have, and want to use it wisely.
I wrote Uber a message explaining that we were refused on the basis of disability, and therefore I refused to pay the cancellation fee. I was told they were launching an internal investigation and I would be contacted soon. I was called the next day and I calmly recounted everything. I said I didn't want the guy fired, he probably has a family; I just wanted everyone trained properly in PERSON. No two-dimensional videos or stories. The lady from Uber said something about each of them being independent contractors, so it's not their policy to train, but drivers are made aware that discrimination is illegal and not tolerated. I offered to help them run trainings and she said “I'm not authorized to make that call, but I'll tell my supervisor.” When nothing came of it, I realize the only thing she actually did was refund my $5.50 cancellation fee. I do not care about the money. I care as we all should, that needless ignorance is eradicated and true connections are made. The more time passes, the more I realize something MORE must be done. And the more conversations I've had, it’s overwhelmingly clear that we are not the only ones this has happened to, and it isn’t just Uber. When I shared this story, I asked for other people to share theirs. The responses were devastating. I received dozens more messages detailing similar or worse treatment of others in the Disability Community. So I am left to assume it happens much, much more than can be accurately quantified. One mom of a friend with a disability said I was lucky to get my $5.50 back because it was usually difficult. Really, Uber? One advocate commented:
“There have already been a couple of lawsuits with these companies and demands for better training. Sadly, the results have been subpar and the business model continually places blame on individual drivers.”
There are at least five known active lawsuits against Uber and Lyft, courtesy of Melissa Riess and Stuart Seaborn of the DRA (Disability Rights Advocates).
Access Living v. Uber (Chicago)
Equal Rights Center v. Uber (Washington, DC)
Lowell v. Lyft (New York)
Crawford v. Uber (Mississippi)
Namisnak v. Uber (New Orleans)
Many of these cases call for more accessible vehicles, but will those numbers even help if drivers remain untrained?
And countless cases as per App user agreement, must go through arbitration first, and are therefore, buried from public view.
Uber and others may place blame on drivers, but I hold rideshare companies responsible for refusing to see their larger responsibilities toward informing and educating drivers in serving the Disability Community.
Rachael Leahcar, a legally blind contestant on the Voice, made the news for having been refused in Australia and said referring to friends with service dogs “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been refused” ABC News interviewed wheelchair user, Joshua Foster, recently after he was left behind because of his wheelchair. Joshua’s story represents one of thousands that go untold and unrecorded.
When this incident in Florida happened, it opened my eyes to how often this has been happening to my fellow advocates. Superstar activist and wheelchair user, Emily Ladau, commented upon hearing my story: “[This kind of story] is actually one of the reasons I don’t use these rideshare services. But it’s happened several times with NYC taxis where the driver slows down, gets a good look at my wheelchair, and speeds off. I’m so sorry you encountered this. And there’s a huge need to do better in the transportation industry.”
Madonna Long, also an advocate and wheelchair user shared:
“This happens more often than you think. Uber drivers have no regulations and honestly not much you can do. I’ve been after UBER for years. Our community takes their sponsorships and they play kind. But in the end, accessible transportation or disability etiquette is not in their manual or their rulebook. Take a taxi next time if you can... they are regulated.”
I refuse to believe that there’s not much we can do. I believe working together with us, Uber and all companies can be better and they will.
So what is Uber’s official stance?
“Uber seeks to ensure that safe, reliable, and high-quality transportation options are available to everyone. Uber and its affiliates, therefore, prohibit discrimination against riders or drivers based on race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, gender identity, age or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.
Such discrimination includes, but is not limited to, refusing to provide or accept services based on any of these characteristics.
Any rider or driver found to have violated this prohibition will lose access to the Uber app.”
However, it seems there is very little actual seeking by Uber to ensure discrimination does not happen. They offer no training, etiquette or education to drivers. Words and regulations are meaningless without creating the cultural support to back them up. And lack of training and accountability means drivers can continue bad behavior.
So what can you do if you’ve been a situation like this? For starters, you can file a written compliant to the Federal Transit Authority and talk to the Better Business Bureau.
The response by my personal circle to what happened that Saturday night described above, has been overwhelming; Uber’s has been crickets; as if now that I got a refund, the transgression never happened. I’m left to wonder if stories of discrimination have been so numerous “internally” and the consequences so nominal publicly, that the ride share company has simply become desensitized to the many people it has abandoned, the people who need them the most (those like myself who can’t drive or those who live alone) by refusing to step up and train their contractors. Uber seems to see serving people with disabilities as a burden to be avoided rather than an opportunity to serve their most loyal potential customers.
Michelle Uzeta, a longtime disability rights lawyer says,
“Ultimately, you have to believe [drivers] want to provide the service and make a living; this kind of gig economy could be really great for people with disabilities who have been long shut out from having reliable transportation services.”
And she says Uber and other rideshare companies should (like the Taxi and Limousine Commission does in New York) provide incentives to buy accessible vehicles or attend training.
Uber, as I mentioned, we the Disability Community are happy to work with you to make things much better.
But for now, I’m deeply disappointed by your continued lack of concern and appropriate action; please do right by your customers, and don’t give us another reason to delete you. Instead, train your contractors and give us the opportunity to be your most loyal, satisfied customers.
Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, who serves as teacher, speaker, beauty advocate, blogger, and Exemplar for the AT&T NYU Connect Ability C...
By Kurt, 2019-05-16
Join us on Thursday, May 16 2019 and mark the eighth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities
By Kurt, 2018-12-15
If you would like keep up with what your friends at Adaptive Community Approach Program are doing, feel free to keep a watch on the ACAP Ink Newsletter.....
By Kurt, 2018-12-13
The Executive Council of the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium has been asked by the NIH to provide input from our spinal cord injured community to help chart the future of funding for spinal cord injury research. Good thing to share with networks to reach people impacted by SCI: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SCI2020
SCI 2020 Community Input
Your Input is Needed - Important Opportunity to Influence SCI Research
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest funder of SCI research in the United States, and perhaps the world. Their funding also has the potential to impact other funding agencies inside and outside the United States. The NIH is hosting a meeting in February 2019 bringing together the SCI research community and many other SCI research funding organizations from around the world. According to the NIH meeting organizers:
“The goal of the 'SCI 2020: Launching a Decade for Disruption in Spinal Cord Injury Research' conference is to initiate discussion across the SCI research community to launch a new decade of research that disrupts traditional barriers and brings about collaborative efforts to address the key research questions in spinal cord injury research. This conference is designed to be a comprehensive stakeholder’s meeting to bring diverse experience and voices together with this common goal. The participants will be challenged to critically evaluate the state of the science, assess areas of scientific, technological and community readiness, and identify the collaborations needed to change the trajectory of research and clinical opportunities for people with SCI.”
The North American SCI Consortium has been asked to lead one session at this meeting to voice concerns of the community of people living with SCI and their families and caregivers. Below are 3 questions/topic areas for this session. We are seeking your input to bring forward during the session. Your voice is important and we want it to be heard!
To participate in this survey you must have a spinal cord injury or be a family member or caregiver of someone living with SCI and be at least 18 years old. It will take you between 5 and 10 minutes to provide your input.
ADA Live produced Episode 63: Interdisciplinary Outreach in the Post-Secondary Environment: Nothing About Us Without Us
By Kurt, 2018-12-05
Welcome to "ADA Live!"
ADA Live! is a free monthly show broadcast nationally on the Internet. Ask questions and learn about your rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Leaders in the field will share their knowledge, experience and successful strategies that increase the participation of persons with disabilities in communities and businesses.
Was Live Today: ADA Live!
Episode 63: Interdisciplinary Outreach in the Post-Secondary Environment: Nothing About Us Without Us
When: Wednesday - December 5, 2018
Time [40 minutes]:
1:00 p.m. (Eastern) | 12 noon (Central) | 11:00 a.m. (Mountain) | 10:00 a.m. (Pacific)
Listen: Soundcloud ADA Live! - Episode 63
Captioning in Zoom on December 5 for ADA Live! Episode 63
NOTE: We moved to the Zoom platform. Please install any application(s) and test your system before the day of the broadcast via download Zoom - PC, Mac, Mobileor the link: zoom.us/download and the Test Zoom Link or the link: zoom.us/test
To login and access captioning in Zoom:
- Up to 30 minutes before the scheduled start time,
login to Captioning in Zoom on December 5 for ADA Live! Episode 63
or the link: https://zoom.us/j/621886588
- When prompted, enter your complete full name and email address in the Zoom login box.
- Select the button link – Join Webinar.
- Then after login to Zoom, to display captioning, select the CC button from the Zoom toolbar.
- Up to 30 minutes before the scheduled start time,
View: Facebook Video: Southeast ADA Center for ADA Live! Episode 63
Have a Question:
- Use the online form anytime to Submit a Question.
- Call the Southeast ADA Center at 404-541-9001.
Missed the last episode?
Episode 64: The Movement 4 Improvement: 4 Wheel City
This episode of ADALive! features hip-hop artists and disability rights advocates Namel “Tapwaterz” Norris and Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez with 4 Wheel City, The Movement for Improvement. Mr. Norris and Mr. Velasquez,, wheelchair riders as the result of gun violence, will talk about their entertainment and musical group 4 Wheel City. Their mission is to use hip-hop music and culture to create more opportunities for people with disabilities and inspire people not to give up in life. Additionally, 4 Wheel City demonstrates to the world that people with disabilities have talents, dreams, and deserve equality. 4 Wheel City performs original music as well as motivational speaking at hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, fundraisers, and events, all over the world.
The Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities is currently accepting nominations for the Dan C. Johnson Award for Advocacy Excellence
By Kurt, 2018-11-29
Dan Johnson changed the landscape for people with disabilities in Wisconsin. Dan was a man of great strength with an unwavering commitment to full inclusion in all aspects of life for people with disabilities. As a person with a disability, he had a keen, first-person insight into the nature of barriers confronting people with disabilities and helped develop strategies to reduce them. Dan developed services in the private sector and influenced disability-related public policy that created equality and opportunity for all citizens in Wisconsin. While Dan lived most of his life with a disability, the full measure of who he was as a person was so much more. Dan was a superb husband, father, and grandfather. A role that brought him so much pure joy. He was affable and accessible. He was a model of human kindness, patience and forbearance.
Nomination forms are available at: https://gcpd.wisconsin.gov/index.htm.
Please email completed nomination forms for consideration by GCPD to: Sara.ODonnell@dhs.wisconsin.gov.
Office for Physical Disabilities and Independent Living
Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources
Wisconsin Department of Health Services