NDALC (Nevada Disablity Advocacy & Law Center) held another of its Townhall meetings on services to the blind. Transportation and urban infrastructure issues were raised as being a significant issue. Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training, while missing in action for many users in Northern Nevada, is essential. Yet with out safe and enjoyable cityscapes just walking down the street is hazardous even with great O&M skills. Chicken and egg situtation indeed. People find it difficult to acquire new skills and to stay motivated when the built environment almost shouts “stay away”. Transportation begins at the street level, walk ability needs to become a central focus for all transportation solutions.
Disability and capability are not necessarily either or situations. Eligibility is too frequently treated as a static concept obligating providers and users to use paratransit or regular public services. When you can’t use the sidewalk to get to or from the bus you are forced to use the paratransit system. While the impact of inadequate streetscapes directly affects the individuals and also impacts other users by increasing the demand for para transit services by users who would be better served using fixed route services.