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Getting There Is Half The Battle

2011 October 3
Social Security Disability Expert

Jim Allsup

I know from my experience talking with our customers that transportation is a critical concern. It’s a factor in traveling to see relatives or just visiting the doctor.

That’s why I’m glad to see advancements for people with disabilities like the one just announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

If you frequently travel by rail, you may have spotted this sign: Watch for gap between platform and train.

Well, that’s only one barrier at train stations for those with disabilities. Never mind the hassles of rushing commuters, pushing to board or disembark first. For a wheelchair-bound person or someone with limited or no vision—the gap is more like a gorge in terms of frustration to surmount. Often, there is no lift to the doorway level of the train. Alternatives, such as aging, bumpy ramps may be located a long distance from the platform.

But good news arrived in September for people with disabilities and seniors.

Intercity, commuter and high-speed rail operations must follow an Americans with Disabilities Act ruling that requires station platforms be constructed or renovated to allow people with disabilities ease in boarding and leaving trains. “By putting this protection in place, passengers with disabilities will be able to get on and off any accessible car that is available to passengers at a new or altered station platform, said U.S. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood.

Passenger railroads must now provide level-entry boarding, generally, where there are no freight rail operations sharing the track, according to news sources. These options could include station-based lifts or special platforms.

Keep in mind, some cities provide reduced fare cards for persons with disabilities, including Chicago, New York and Scottsdale, Arizona

Check with your own city’s Department of Transportation if you have a disability and/or receive Social Security disability benefits. So many good things have resulted from the Americans with Disabilities Act. You can find more about these benefits online, at http://www.ada.gov/.

Read more about government services for people with disabilities in Allsup’s Forum. If you have some suggestions for other folks on how they can get to where they need to go—please share your thoughts here. You can also contact Allsup any time at (800) 279-4357 or find other resources by visiting Allsup’s website.

— Jim Allsup

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