Every July 26th we pause to celebrate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This year is no different, the most significant piece of legislation in the disability rights movement turns 33 today. Over the last three plus decades disabled people have enjoyed maximum access in our communities– or that’s what some would have you believe. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a community we take ADA anniversaries as an opportunity to remember and acknowledge our disability community elders, celebrate our progress, and recommit to demanding more accessible communities and built environments for the next generation of disabled people and ourselves. The ADA, lifechanging as it is, is just the floor. Making infrastructure ADA compliant doesn’t guarantee accessibility. All of us, disabled and non-disabled alike, must come together to shatter both the societal and built environment barriers disabled people confront daily while moving through our communities and in communities across the country.
At LINK Houston we advocate for a robust and equitable transportation network so that all people can reach opportunity. We also believe that transportation equity is disability justice. Many disabled Houstonians can’t drive due to our disability, can’t afford to own a car, or choose not to drive. Regardless of vehicle ownership, we deserve to freely get around Houston with dignity through safe, accessible, reliable, and frequent multimodal options.
We call on city, county, and Metro leaders to prioritize creating a Houston that is welcoming to all its residents. We appreciate METRO’s commitment to universal accessibility so that all 9000 bus stops meet or exceed ADA standards by 2024, but we also recognize that even if bus stops are accessible the sidewalk routes to and from stops oftentimes are not. We acknowledge the City of Houston’s efforts to raise funds for more sidewalks through an in-lieu fee and prioritize accessibility through the Pedestrian Accessibility Review Program, but we also recognize that these programs are insufficient to match the scale of Houston’s broken sidewalk network.
Creating a truly accessible Houston requires the thoughtful cooperation of all responsible agencies to acknowledge shortfalls and create solutions that exceed minimum federal accessibility standards, while actively engaging with the communities they serve. Nothing about us without us is more than the disability community’s rallying cry, it’s our promise to demand a seat at every decision-making table. We hope elected and agency officials reflect today and proactively work within their sphere of influence to create space for disabled Houstonians to offer our perspectives, guidance, feedback, and hope for the future we deserve. LINK Houston will continue advocating and building collective power through our Community Action Network to make our multimodal vision a reality. We invite you to join us in this work.
Executive Director, LINK Houston
July 26, 2023
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