NYC MTA Announces More ADA Upgrades

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New York City’s MTA recently announced a full slate of access upgrades to three Harlem Metro-Railroad Stations and three Queens Long Island Railroad Stations. These upgrades will include the addition of street and platform elevators, accessible sidewalks, accessible parking and curb-cuts.

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Amtrak Disability Settlement Paid

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Amtrak recently paid out over $2 million to some 1,500 disabled travelers, under the terms of a settlement agreement reached with the Department of Justice on December 2, 2020. This agreement was reached after Amtrak failed to make its existing stations accessible to passengers with disabilities.

Says Assistant Attorney Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department, “As a result of the Justice Department’s efforts, more than 1,500 people with disabilities harmed by Amtrak’s inaccessible rail stations are receiving compensation for the discrimination they experienced.”

That’s not the end of the story though. Although compensation is great, the root problem still needs to be fixed. To that end, in the next nine years Amtrak is required to make at least 135 of their stations accessible. Amtrak will also provide training to staff on the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements, and implement an improved system for handling ADA complaints.

And it appears that they are moving forward with a new focus on accessibility, as Amtrak recently established the Office of the Vice President of Stations, Properties & Accessibility.

Rail travel is about to get more accessible. Finally.

 

 

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Amtrak to Compensate Disabled Passengers for Inaccessible Stations

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Under the terms of a settlement agreement reached in December 2020 between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Amtrak, disabled passengers who traveled or tried to travel on Amtrak may be entitled to compensation. Specifically, passengers who traveled or tried to travel to or from one of 78 inaccessible Amtrak stations as far back as July 27, 2013 may be eligible for a piece of the $2.25 million compensation fund. You can apply for compensation at https://amtrakdisabilitysettlement.com. Continue reading

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DOT Releases Updated Service Animal Regulations for Air Travel

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In an ongoing effort to keep up with changing times, the Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released their updated rules for air travel with service animals. This rule replaces the previous one (http://barrierfreetravels.com/2019/10/dot-updates-acaa-service-animal-regulations/ ). which was released in October 2018.

While the previous rule increased the documentation required to fly with an emotional support animal, this update classifies emotional support animals as pets. The rule is expected to take effect in early 2021, 30 days after it’s published in the Federal Register. Here are the highlights of the new guidelines. Continue reading

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The Disney Decision — Reasonable Accommodation vs Able-Bodied Abuse

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On June 22, 2020 US District Court Judge Anne Conway ruled on an Americans with Disabilities Act case regarding Disney’s reasonable accommodations for an autistic individual. In a disappointing ruling Conway found that Disney did not have to provide reasonable accommodations (10 front-of-line-passes) for Donna Lorman’s adult autistic son. Continue reading

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Covid-19 and the Cruise Industry – What’s Next?

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The Covid-19 Pandemic will undoubtedly change a lot of things, from where we shop, to how receive health care. Once the dust settles and businesses begin to reopen, leisure travel will again be something to consider. And I think the travel industry is in for even more changes; in fact, I believe travel in post-Covid-19 times will be an entirely different experience, especially for cruise ship passengers. Continue reading

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US Access Board to Update Rail Car Access Guidelines

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The US Access Board recently announced that they will be updating the access guidelines for rail cars. To that end they are seeking public comments on the issue. The regulations, which were last updated in 1991, apply to rail cars used in rapid, light, commuter and intercity rail systems. Continue reading

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Does Filing an ADA Complaint Really Work?

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onaeg news agency [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]I get a lot of e-mails about access failures, and unfortunately in this day and age these things still happen. Why? Well part of the reason is that even though we have access laws on the books, we don’t have any entity that goes around and inspects facilities for compliance. And even if we did, there are some things – like providing reasonable accommodations – that you really can’t inspect. Continue reading

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Is This Really an Accessible Room?

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A low-step shower in a standard — not accessible — hotel room

Thanks to modern technology it’s now possible to share your travel photos with friends and family with just a few swipes and a tap or two. And I absolutely love seeing those smiling faces enjoying cruises, beaches and  luxury resorts. But lately I’ve also been seeing another kind of travel post – it usually features a photo of an obviously inaccessible room, with the caption “Really? This is an accessible room?”

And the truth is, well, maybe it isn’t. Continue reading

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