On Monday, Jesus Martinez, executive director of the Red de Sobrevivientes, and nine other local organizations working for disability rights in El Salvador, met with San Salvador’s newly elected Mayor, Dr. Norman Quijano. The objective of the meeting was to discuss an all-inclusive disability rights platform to be integrated into the Mayor’s new policies, especially in regards to the newly proposed and highly contested Metrobus project.
El Diario de Hoy published an article with quite a bit of spin yesterday. The Commission of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities have not committed to support the Metrobus project unless the Mayor agrees to make the new system accessible (by including lifts and ramps, making adjustments of local bus stops and curbs, and include modifications for people with visual impairments).
“Transportation is one of the biggest obstacles for people with disabilities in El Salvador,” Martinez said.
The current system is a socially constructed form of discrimination. For example a person who uses a wheelchair, who cannot afford their own vehicle or who does not have someone who can assist them to get on and off the bus, faces obstacles that sometimes leave them confined to their home or neighborhood. In a city without ramps or enforced regulations to keep sidewalks clear from obstructions (such as parked cars) travel becomes an obstacle course. Without being able to travel freely in the city, persons with disabilities are then forced to face another level of instututional barriers.
If transportation is nearly impossible, think about how difficult it would be to find a job, go to a doctor’s appointment, or even complete daily tasks such as grocery shopping or taking your children to school.
This was only the Commission’s first meeting with the Mayor’s office. Martinez and his associates are hopeful that in the coming weeks there will be a commitment from Quijano to make the new transportation system completely accessible for persons with disabilities. Alberto Monterrosa, assistant manager of Municipal Public Participation office, and David Reyes, a member of the Legislative Assembly who himself uses a wheelchair, have committed to help push the accessibility policy through.
Posted By Carolyn Ramsdell
Posted Aug 26th, 2009