On June 28, the US Court of Appeals overturned a decision by the New York City district court that mandated all new city taxis be wheelchair accessible. Several wheelchair users and advocates for people with disabilities had filed charges in January 2011, against the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which is the licensing body for taxis in New York City. The TLC was originally charged with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to ensure that all taxis are accessible.
In this latest turn of events, the court has basically decided that inaccessible taxis are not a form of discrimination against people with disabilities. The reasoning was the ADA states that access to the service or goods must not be discriminatory, not the tools used to provide the service. In this case, taxis are physically considered the tool, not the service provider.
As the law stands now, the scope of the American Disabilities Act would have to be expanded or taxi services classified as public transportation before New York City taxis could be mandated to be more accessible to people with disabilities.
Much has been accomplished in the 22 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but in the wake of this recent court decision, there’s still a great deal of work to be done to ensure equal access to transportation for everyone.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.