Documentary Highlights the Accessible Transportation Struggle in NYC

By Haley Dosenbach

Imagine waking up for work and having to take a subway route with multiple disjointed connections instead of the most direct route because the direct route doesn't have an elevator to take you to the streets above. Or being late for work because the ride you scheduled a day in advance never showed up at all. Maybe you didn't have trouble getting to work, but then your coworkers want to go for drinks after five and you can't join in because the busses don't run late enough in your neighborhood.

You'd feel stuck. And you'd feel how the half a million New Yorkers who use wheelchairs feel in a city ill-equipped to serve their transportation needs.

Access Denied

Wheelchair Users Seeking Reliable Transpo Face Barriers

Taxis were once identified as the best way to fix the problem and the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) appointed the Nissan NV200 the "Taxi of Tomorrow" with goals to make taxis safer and more inclusive to people in the city. Then ride share vehicles  began rising in popularity and, because of their classification as an app, they were not under jurisdiction of the TLC or the city and as a result were not required to offer wheelchair accessible vehicles. Progress was stalled.

BraunAbility teamed up with Reid Davenport, a documentary filmmaker who also has cerebral palsy, to create Access Denied, a film exposing the transportation inequality in New York City to educate and enact change. Reid met with lawyers, advocates, taxi drivers, and Emmy-award winning documentarian Jason DaSilva (also the creator of AXS Map, an app that maps accessible locations in various cities around the United States) to gain insight into the day-to-day struggle of transportation for wheelchair users in New York City.

Access Denied

Jason says in the film, "The ferries shut down early, the busses go on different routes, they don't know where to go..." and Reid prompts him with a question, "So, what do you do?"

"You can't do anything," Jason responds. "That's the problem. So I'm, like, very neighborhood-bound these days."

Access Denied was the culmination of varying points of view which aimed to answer the question: if accessible transportation isn't reliable in any form currently, what hope do wheelchair users have and what is the solution?

Reid states, "As time passes, people start to recognize certain exclusions of people with disabilities are examples of discrimination. Time and time again disability leaders in the community bind together and fight for change."

It is our hope that with additional education, a new generation of leaders will come together and fight for change on this critical issue.

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