NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission: Access does not mean Physical Access

My testimony:

Hello, my name is Janice Schacter Lintz and I am the CEO of Hearing Access & Innovations f/k/a the Hearing Access Program which spearheaded the hearing induction loop project with the Taxi & Limousine Commission about 11 years ago. I am also the mother of a 21-year old daughter who is hard of hearing.

I am confining my comments solely to hearing access since I do not have the expertise to weigh on the other issues before The Commission.

I applaud the TLC for installing induction loops for people who are hard of hearing. New York City is the first city in this country to have hearing induction loops in its for hire vehicles such as taxis.

The current request to provide funds for “Accessible Taxi” gives the impression that access and accessible taxis means physical access. Accessible does not mean physical access. Access means the removal of barriers that prevent all people with disabilities from using taxis including but not limited to riders who are deaf or hard of hearing and/or with visual impairments. We urge The Commission to clarify the term “access” and “accessible” to include people who are deaf or hard of hearing as well as people with visual impairments. Our concern and/or fear is that when the administration changes, the terminology will not be clear to the next Commission. All too often hearing loss and hearing induction loops are forgotten because hearing loss and the technology are invisible. Please see my recent article in Huffington Post:

In addition, the TLC should not use a wheelchair symbol to represent access as was used in a presentation here today. The symbol used by MOPD which includes all the disabilities in a rainbow should be used.

We would like to see part of the Accessible Taxi Fund used to ensure open-captioning is available on all Taxi Television Media content and to add hearing induction loops for other non-Taxi of Tomorrow vehicles and/or other boroughs.

We hope The Commission will support clarifying the term accessible to ensure hearing induction loops and other disabilities are included as well as to expand the use of the Fund to include captioning and funding hearing induction loops for non-Taxis of Tomorrow vehicles.

Thank you for your time.