First of all, for those of you who are planning to attend Monday’s PACE City ADA Advisory Committee meeting, it has been postponed. The new date of the meeting will be on June 17, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. If you still wish to attend this meeting, you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request accommodation services.
Yesterday, PACE held the joint City and Suburban ADA Advisory Committees Meeting at Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower.) Many things were discussed about PACE fixed routes and paratransit.
A new Ventra system will be implemented that will replace the current farecard system. The goal is to establish a single point of payment for all your transportation needs. With one card, you will be able to use fixed bus routes, paratransit, and other services such as vanpools. But there are concerns about the accessibility of the system, which will continue to be explored.
There are also plans to consolidate paratransit call centers to one location. This should make things less complicated for determining what number to all for the service you need. However, there is also a plan to implement IVR which stands for Interactive Voice Recognition. In other words, this will become an automated system which voice recognizes your commands over the phone when you place a request for paratransit services.
Ray Campbell, chairman of the PACE Suburban ADA Advisory Committee, raised concerns about the lack of an alternative text method for communicating with paratransit services. While PACE said they did not have a texting plan in place, Ray asked that higher priority be given to finding a solution to texting as an alternative to IVR. He pointed out that this is a problem for DeafBlind consumers and those who prefer texting over voice calls.
We thank Ray Campbell for recognizing the importance of DeafBlind accessibility in the Chicagoland transit systems. He is a good advocate for us and we are lucky to have him on our side.
During the public comment period, Bryen Yunashko also raised concerns about accessibility and ineffective communication methods when interacting with transit and DeafBlind travelers. He urged that they not forget about the DeafBlind population and that an open channel needs to be established with the community so that past issues and concerns are no longer falling through the cracks. After the meeting, Pace officials approached Bryen to discuss and express their concerns about how to improve relations with the community.
It seems we are on a good start now to building a better future for DeafBlind travelers of the Chicagoland transit systems. It is up to you all now to voice your concerns and experiences and to share in a dialogue aimed at positive solutions. Please, attend meetings or post comments here whenever possible. Your input matters now more than ever. If the Chicagoland transit authorities don’t hear from you, how can they know to work on solutions?