COLUMBUS — More than half of the people with disabilities responding to a statewide transportation survey indicated that they had to wait at least 30 minutes or longer to be picked up for a ride. Approximately half (51 percent) of the survey’s 534 respondents with disabilities stated they were 15 minutes late, or longer, for rides they depend on.
These findings, and many others, are part of a study released today by the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. The study was completed by the Ohio Colleges of Medicine, Government Resource Center and included survey responses from more than 2,200 Ohioans in 63 counties across the state. Survey participants included people with disabilities, family members, transportation providers and advocacy organizations.
Mark Seifarth, chair of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, said he was impressed with the study’s findings, indicating that it confirmed what many people with disabilities have been saying about transportation challenges.
“We continuously heard from people with disabilities that transportation was their number one concern,” said Seifarth. “This study finally puts many of those anecdotal concerns into a more coherent collection of data and information.”
Seifarth added that community inclusion and participation for people with disabilities could not be achieved without a reliable transportation system for people with disabilities.
“Yesterday, we celebrated the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and yet, for 60 percent of our survey participants with disabilities, they felt they could not be active in the community, and in some cases employed, unless transportation services were improved, ‘a lot’,” said Seifarth.
Carolyn Knight, executive director of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, said the information included in the study is a gold mine for policymakers.
“I think a big step we can take immediately is to help people with disabilities understand the transportation options available to them,” said Knight, referencing a finding that only 11% of people with disabilities utilize public transit. “When you look at the percent of people who know their rights compared to the percent of people who know their options, it’s a glaring discrepancy.”
Knight said the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council has been dedicating resources to research studies that will help legislators and administration officials better understand the unique needs and challenges of people with developmental disabilities.
The most recent study, “Transportation Challenges for Ohioans with Disabilities” was funded through a competitive grant and received in-kind technical support from Disability Rights Ohio and Services for Independent Living.
The study can be found online at the Council’s website: www.ddc.ohio.gov.