On Monday, MTS (Metropolitan Transit System) of the city of San Diego, held an outreach for the disabled community. The purpose was for people with disablities, especially those using manual and power wheelchairs, to try out the ramp they are planning to put on all the new trolleys. They also wanted the input of the disabled community about the new ramps.
The event was held at the 12th and Imperial transfer station in downtown San Diego. They had a mock-up of the planned ramp as it would be with the doors of the trolley open. They had me drive my chair up and down the ramp, approaching from different sides and straight on, with high sides and without. I found it very easy to manuever my power chair up and down and the width of the ramp and doorway was just right. Afterwards I gave a positive evaluation.
Though it worked great with my power wheelchair, the manual wheelchair users had trouble pushing their chairs up and down the ramp. Being in a power wheelchair, I forget that manual wheelchair users use a lot of effort to move around. It was my hope, and the hope of the other people that took part in the outreach that our input would lead to a ramp that would work for all people with disabilities. It was our understanding that this was the purpose of the outreach.
I applauded what appeared to be a good effort of the MTS to reach out to the disabled community. But, it turned out to be an empty gesture. An acquaintance of mine who uses a manual wheelchair had trouble wheeling himself up the ramp--as did a lot of manual wheelchair users--and mentioned the problems and suggested they lengthen the ramp to make it less steep. He was told that the ramp could not be changed. The outreach turned out to be futile. Why did they have us try out the ramp and give our input when the design was already approved? It appears to me that this outreach was nothing but an attempt on the part of the MTS to appease the disabled community and to make themselves look good. It achieved neither purpose.