October 31, 2014
Members of the Disability Action Hall were saddened by the news of the recent CBC news story aired on October 28th, 2014 where a woman with an intellectual disability was sexually assaulted on a city bus while her caregiver sat nearby unaware wearing headphones. Many of the Hall members know all too well bullying and harassment on a bus is nothing new for person who lives with an intellectual disability.
Tammy, Mary and Sue are members of the Disability Action Hall and wanted to share what is it like to ride transit as a women with a disability and that there are solutions to enhance safety for everyone.
Safety on Buses
Safety on transit is an issue for many persons with intellectual disabilities whether you have a staff with you or not." says Mary Salvani. “Based on my experience on using Calgary Transit, the straps and tie downs should be easier to access as not many people have an aid with them; my walker has almost hit people as I cannot secure it safely. One time a passenger offered to help me secure my walker, but even they couldn’t because the belts were locked in and we could not pull them out. It is difficult to tie the walker by yourself as it is hard to reach, transit needs to inspect the straps each day when the buses are cleaned."
Is Calgary Transit really providing a safe ride if the devices are not working well?
The para-transit service known as 'Access Calgary' provides just some of their customers with an emergency back up service in the event the service is late or a person fails to be at the door at time of pick-up. The solution? 'Access Calgary needs to provide all customers with reduced mobility with a backup ride or emergency card; everyone needs to be safe and have a reliable means to get home. Everyone needs a backup.” says Mary.
Reliable Transit and Back up plans
“In Calgary, safe, reliable public transportation can be very difficult when you have a reduced mobility,” says Tammy Poirer-Crosby. "Passengers always need a back-up plan like the Ace Card & a cell phone when using Access Calgary services. As a woman with a reduced mobility, it is far too easy to be a target on public transportation using accessible devices like a wheelchair or walker. You cannot get away as quick. And in the cases if a person with an intellectual disability may take public transit and who may have a hard time advocating for themselves, staff should near them at all times.”
When Hall members learned the person on Winnipeg Transit was caught on video taped and now charged...they said they are thankful most buses have video cameras. “I know the bus driver needs to drive the bus, but maybe there needs to be a help button at the back of the bus if a person cannot get to the front of the bus safely or is in danger of being dragged off the bus? Are there cameras in the back of the bus?” asks Sue Bente.
Staff Training and Healthy Sexuality Training for People with Disabilities
Bullying, harassment and sexual harassment don't just happen in the classroom. Staff training and hiring certified workers are necessary for people of all ages. Encouraging people with disabilities and their staff to take healthy sexuality courses at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre where people can learn how to recognize dangerous situations, and talk about what consent looks like are just one of the many solutions needed to start reducing violence. "People have to be taught how to learn to trust that 'sick feeling' in your stomach." says Mary.
Standing Up to Violence as a Community
“We all need to watch out for each other” says Sue,“We need to step in when someone is having a problem with someone. People may not want to get involved or invite trouble their way but its time we look out for one another.”
Ending violence against persons with disabilities is a community solution. People need to feel safe in the neighborhoods and using public services.
Members of the Disability Action Hall would like you to know November is Family Violence Prevention' month. An event known as “Break the silence” #breakthesilenceyyc kicks off this Saturday. Much like the Hall Members, the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective and their partners want to see violence reduced not just in the home, and everywhere else too. The Calgary Domestic Violence Collective is kicking off the awareness month at SouthCentre Mall starting at 10 am until 2 pm, on Saturday, November 1st. Visit their website to learn more about how we can all break the silence.
October 10, 2014
Members of the Action Hall supported transits report for the City to look at a sliding fee scale as another tool to create reduced fares that work for all Calgarians. The report will then be talked about at a larger council meeting on Monday, November 3rd.
We are encouraged the standing policy committee supported the report for the conversations to continue unanimously!
Here is our letter of support to the standing policy committee...
RE: Letter of Support TT2014-0768Sliding Scale Fee from Calgary Transit
Members of the Disability Action Hall wish to express their gratitude to City Council, Fair Calgary and Calgary Transit for continuing to ensure the transit fee structure poses few barriers for citizens who require a reduce fee to connect to our City. The ‘Sliding Fee Scale’ is a logical next step to ensure our fare structure and City subsidies are available to all Citizens.
We applaud the ask for Community Neighbourhood Services request to assist with cutting down red tape and making single entry possible, and the creation of a 50% discounted single fare as part of the mid-term solution to ensure Calgarians can connect with transit. We also support the next step to take the time to create a community solution for a sliding scale that will align to the Sustainability 2020 Direction, the Route Ahead Strategy and City Budget.
The solutions to address complex problems such as access to our City services are varied. We wish to acknowledge our City’s active role and history of understanding barriers when present themselves; Back in 1973, before there was no federal program to help seniors thrive, our City understood a plan was needed to help people ride the bus, hence a reduced annual pass was created. Through initiatives like the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, we have re-gained a collective conscience that the face of poverty has changed, and now we can re-look at good ideas of the 70s and with the use technology, tools, community consultation, policy grounded in human rights to assist our decision makers and business units we will continue to create solutions which are truly accessible, and work for all Calgarians.
We look forward to continue our work with Calgary Transit and Fair Calgary and report back in the near future with a community based solution that works for all Citizens.
Members of the Disability Action Hall
October 6, 2014
On September 11th members of the Disability Action Hall held a world cafe about what mattered to persons with disabilities when talking about the YYC Council Plan for 2015-2018.
We then wrote a report and shared some highlights of what it means to be included, health and safety and accessibility with the Mayor of Calgary in the form of coveralls to commemorate City Council's tireless efforts of working hard for our City, (in particular the last two natural disasters of the flood and September snowfall).
Thanks to Katie and Amanda's hard work making this possible! We hope you like the coveralls Mayor Nenshi!