AROUND THE STATE: Columbus Town Hall Addresses Issues for People with Disabilities

The City of Columbus held a town hall meeting with the Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities (MCPD) to resolve the issues facing individuals with disabilities in Muscogee County.

"Our mayor has Town Hall meetings on a regular basis, so we thought it would be good for us to do the same for the disability community," said Joy Norman, chair of MCPD, and director, Center for Accommodation and Access at Columbus State University.

Over 25 people attended the town hall, and the group informed and presented its concerns to the department or manager. MCPD acts as a liaison between the Columbus government and the 50,000 people with disabilities in our community. The main purposes of the meeting were to:

  • Make sure people with disabilities knew that they were heard
  • Take notes on any issues that needed to be addressed either by the city or some other agency.

The three main issues were:

  1. Public transportation (Metra and Dial-a-Ride) concerns:
    - No bus route to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), where people must go for State IDs. People trying to move out of nursing homes need to be able to get IDs via public transit.
    - Some routes have been eliminated or the # of trips reduced.
  2. Need for curb cuts at bus stops
  3. Need for accessible housing

At the meeting directors from Metra and Dial-a-Ride addressed the issues while acknowledging the challenge - a decrease in ridership in those areas. They also took note of the need for curb cuts at bus stops. Possible solutions were for the DMV to have a satellite office on a bus route or Metra provide a trip once a month to the DMV.

As to accessible housing, "I am looking into who and what agency to talk to. Some concerns about sub-standard housing have been ignored and MCPD plans to follow up on how to resolve this long-standing issue," added Norman.

To continue the momentum, MCPD plans to host more Town Hall meetings in the coming year.

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:

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