Wheelchair users can’t hail an Uber or Lyft in Pittsburgh

Unlike larger cities like Washington DC, New York and Chicago, Uber and Lyft service in Pittsburgh is not accessible for people who ride in wheelchairs. Over the past few years, both companies have been sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act and local non-discrimination laws regarding accessibility.  The lawsuits have brought change in some cities, but those changes have not reached Pittsburgh.  Fortunately, Pittsburgh does have accessible taxi service from ZTrip (formerly Yellow Cab) and VeTaxi.

For an in-depth look at Pittsburgh’s prospects for wheelchair-accessible Uber and Lyft, see my March 19, 2019, article in Public Source.






All-Abilities Media Workshops

All-Abilities Media —  one of Pittsburgh’s leading efforts for teaching young adults about media production — is teaming up with the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University to offer workshops in March and April, 2019. Curriculum includes the opportunity to record and publish a video interview.

My 23-year-old son, Mark Steidl, has participated in All-Abilities Media for the last two years and has enjoyed the experience. All-Abilities Media Project Director Jennifer Szweda Jordan is a terrific teacher and mentor.

I encourage anyone who has an interest in learning more about audio-video production to look into this unique opportunity.




Oct. 18 Disability Employment Panel

The Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium announces the panelists for:

Let’s Not Repeat the Past: Employment & Real Potential for People with Disabilities

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 9:30 am-Noon at Rodef Shalom Temple, 4905 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh 15213

To attend, you must REGISTER  by October 10th

Panel 1: People with Developmental Disabilities & Employment Changes-What still needs to happen in Western Pennsylvania?

Moderator: Steve Suroviec, CEO, ACHIEVA

  • Suzanne Ratnavale, Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania
  • John Seely, Empowering Lives (Altoona)
  • Eric Welsh, ACHIEVA
  • Kelly Gunther, ACHIEVA

Panel 2: Innovative Models of Employment in Western Pennsylvania                                      

Moderator: Marci Katona, District Administrator Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)

  • Phil Glofelty, Game Masters
  • Bernadette Kazar, Pawlicious Pet Food
  • John Miller, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Jeremy Shapira, Giant Eagle
  • Heather Sedlacko, United Way Southwestern Pennsylvania

                                                                                                                                                                    Panel 3: How to Work when you Need Essential Benefits                                                         

Moderator: Dr. Josie Badger, United Way’s #IWantToWork

  • Erin Guay, Pennsylvania Health Law Project
  • Joy Smith, AHEDD
  • Libby Powers Disability Options Network Center for Independent Living
  • Heather Tomko, University of Pittsburgh

Funding for this event provided by the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust. Support also provided by ACHIEVA; the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, 21 and Able Initiative; and the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University.

Accessibility: ASL interpretation will be provided. Other accommodations available upon request. Please request by contacting Mary Hartley at info@wpdhac.org or 412-204-7199 no later than October 9th. Parking is available in the free lot and the location is close to major bus lines.

As the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act approaches, Pittsburgh city government is poised to make the city more disability-friendly

Photo of Alisa Grishman
Asked how she would rate Pittsburgh as a disability-friendly city, Alisa Grishman said, “I’d give the city six out of 10, pretty good but not perfect.” Grishman is founder of Access Mob Pittsburgh, an accessibility advocacy group, and a member of Mayor Bill Peduto’s advisory group for Complete Streets. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Recently, I wrote an article for Public Source about local disability rights activists’ decades-long advocacy for solutions to the Pittsburgh’s “one-step” problem — that is, the single step that prevents wheelchair users from entering many businesses in city neighborhoods.

The city, likewise, has looked for ways to encourage businesses, as public entities, to remove entry barriers and meet their responsibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a federal civil right law, the city cannot enforce the ADA or force businesses to create accessible entries. The ADA is a complaint-driven law. Citizens file complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice. Continue reading “As the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act approaches, Pittsburgh city government is poised to make the city more disability-friendly”

“Inclusive Higher Ed” programs opening doors to young adults with intellectual and developmental disability

Colton acceptance letter
Colton Vazquez with his acceptance letter from Slippery Rock University.

Recently, I wrote an article about “inclusive higher ed” programs for Public Source, a digital publication that covers the Pittsburgh region. The focus of the article is Colton Vazquez, a senior at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, who has decided to attend the “Rock Life” program at Slippery Rock University.

I first heard about Colton’s college aspirations last year when his mother, Candy Vazquez, posted on Facebook about their visits to Slippery Rock, Millersville and E. Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania, as well as Western Carolina and the University of Central Florida. Having taken my son, Mark, to see  Millersville’s inclusive program last year as well, I was curious about Colton’s journey.

The number of inclusive higher ed programs is growing in Pennsylvania. There are now ten (see complete list in article). A decade ago, there were two. Each program is a little different from the others. Most are defined as non-degree programs for students with intellectual or developmental disability. The Think College website is the national resource for these programs. In Pennsylvania, the Dream Partnership and PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium are the go-to’s for info.

Continue reading ““Inclusive Higher Ed” programs opening doors to young adults with intellectual and developmental disability”

Carving out time to listen our son’s vision for his life

We spend hours together every day and, yet, how much do we know about how our 22-year-old son thinks about his life and what he wants for his future?

After more than two decades of parenting, have the lines blurred between what we want for our son and what he wants for himself? Are we ready to wholeheartedly support his vision?

These are the questions I have been asking myself — and the reason I asked the PA Family Network to offer a local workshop on LifeCourse tools.
Continue reading “Carving out time to listen our son’s vision for his life”

Facing the Big Question: How will our son fare when we are no longer around? How to find help — and some measure of control

As parents of a young adult with significant disabilities, one question is never far from our minds: What will our son’s life be like when we are gone or simply unable to participate in his care?

A little about our son:

Mark is 22 and has cerebral palsy. He has many abilities as well as disabilities and medical conditions that require one-on-one support. My husband and I — both of us in our 60s — are the primary caregivers. Habilitation aides and nurses also provide support several hours a week.

Continue reading “Facing the Big Question: How will our son fare when we are no longer around? How to find help — and some measure of control”