Amid taxi-wheelchair controversy, the city announces a program for the vision-impaired

Taxi of Tomorrow. (via taxioftomorrow.com)
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The Bloomberg administration has gotten a lot of flack in recent months for its resistance to making New York City's taxi and limousine fleet fully accessible to wheelchairs. The vast majority of taxis can't accomodate wheelchairs, and the city has selected a new taxi model, to be imposed fleet-wide, that also is inaccessible.

But the city is apparently making incremental progress on another front. Tomorrow, Councilman James Vacca and the taxi and limousine commissioner David Yassky will unveil "a nationwide software enhancement that will enable people who are blind and visually impaired to access the credit card payment technology used in taxi fleets in New York City and in cities throughout the United States."

In a statement, Edith Prentiss, chair of the campaign that's been advocating for full accessibility, said, "The Taxi For All Campaign's goal is full taxi accessibility for persons who have disabilities, so we're pleased to learn about this software upgrade. It's tremendously frustrating, though, that taxi officials consider accessibility an afterthought. Whether it's taxi design or credit card readers, the TLC consistently excludes those with disabilities and only under pressure even attempts to accommodate them. That must change."

Here's the release:

On Tuesday, April 17 at 10 a.m., on the steps of New York City Hall, Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Council Transportation Committee, and former Governor David Paterson will join with Jesse H. Davis, President of Creative Mobile Technologies, and Mark G. Ackermann, President and CEO of Lighthouse International to announce a nationwide software enhancement that will enable people who are blind and visually impaired to access the credit card payment technology used in taxi fleets in New York City and in cities throughout the United States. CMT plans to roll out the adaptive software in the coming weeks in New York, followed by roll outs in its taxi fleets nationwide. Following the announcement, Governor Paterson and members of the visually impaired community will demonstrate the new system in a taxicab at City Hall.

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