As your thoughts turn to fall foliage and pumpkin-spiced treats, we thank you for spending some time with our October accessibility updates. Read on to learn more about:
- Upcoming 16-day service diversion on the Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line
- October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
- The 50th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and new web accessibility rules
- White Cane Day Celebration at the M.A. Statehouse
- MCB Announces New Commissioner
- RTAG General Meeting
October 14–29: Bus Shuttles Replace Subway Service on the Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line
In order to expedite critical track work, a 16-day, full-access closure of the following MBTA stations will take place from Saturday, October 14, through Sunday, October 29:
- Red Line Ashmont Branch--between JFK/UMass and Ashmont
- Mattapan Line--between Ashmont and Mattapan
The MBTA will provide a free, accessible shuttle bus service for riders of the Red Line Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line for the duration of the closure.
- All shuttle stops and shuttle buses will be accessible (a mix of low-floor, ramp-equipped buses and coach-style buses with lifts towards the rear).
- A small number of accessible vans will also be on hand.
- Staff will be present at most of the closed stations and shuttle bus stops to provide information, directions, and other types of assistance.
- Wayfinding signage will be put in place to help guide riders to shuttle bus stops.
- Descriptions of shuttle stop locations will be available on the Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line project webpage.
Additionally, the Fairmont branch of the Commuter Rail will be free to riders during the 16-day diversion.
Read more about alternative travel options.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Observed each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the contributions of America's workers with disabilities, past and present, and showcases supportive, inclusive policies and practices that benefit employees and employers alike. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has chosen "Advancing Access and Equity" as its theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 2023.
Did you know that over half of the employees in the MBTA Department of System-Wide Accessibility identify as having a disability? This first-person perspective is crucial to making decisions about the accessibility of our system for older adults and people with disabilities. Nothing About Us Without Us!
Learn more about ODEP and NDEAM, including how different organizations can participate.
50th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and New Web Accessibility Rules
We mark the passage of the Rehabilitation Act a half-century ago and its importance in prohibiting discrimination based on disability in employment by federal agencies, federal contractors, and recipients of federal funds, and in delivering federally funded programs and activities.
The Rehabilitation Act laid the foundation upon which the more comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 now stands. These laws continue to be vital tools used to advance access and equity for workers from historically underserved communities.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has a lead role in coordinating interpretations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, including its application to websites and mobile apps across the federal government. The DOJ is seeking public comment on a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which proposes technical standards for web content and mobile app accessibility to give public entities greater clarity in exactly how to meet their obligations and to help ensure equal access to public entities' services, programs, and activities for people with disabilities.
Read the proposed rules and submit a comment. Written comments must be postmarked, and electronic comments must be submitted on or before October 3, 2023.
White Cane Day Celebration
Massachusetts Commission for the Blind is excited to announce that our annual White Cane Day celebration will be held in person for the first time in four years. The event was held virtually for the last three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Date: Friday, October 13, 2023
Time: 11 AM to 1 PM
Location: Massachusetts State House – Great Hall, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
Registration is required by Friday, October 6 2023
For people who are blind/low vision, the white cane is an essential tool to help people navigate and travel independently and safely.
On October 15, 1964, White Cane Day became a national observation in the United States to celebrate the abilities and achievements of people who are blind/low vision. White Cane Day also brings awareness to drivers to identify and yield to pedestrians using a white cane or guide dog.
The Governor issues a yearly proclamation to commemorate the observance of White Cane Day in Massachusetts.
At this year's celebration, we will announce the winners of the 3rd Annual Meg Robertson Mobility Award, which recognizes people who demonstrate mobility skills at their level and incorporate the white cane into their lives to increase independence.
If you require ADA accommodation, please submit the online request form or contact MCB's ADA Coordinator, Shauntay M. King, at (617) 894-4352 or Shauntay.M.King@mass.gov at least two weeks prior to the event. For more general inquiries, contact Allyson Bull at email@example.com.
Please stop by the SWA table, where we will be joined by the MBTA Community Engagement Team and the Mobility Center Team.
SWA Congratulates John Oliveira – New MCB Commissioner
On September 14, 2023, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh announced that John Oliveira, who has served as Acting Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) since April, has been appointed Commissioner, effective immediately. Commissioner Oliveira has held numerous roles at MCB since joining in 1987, including 10 years as Deputy Commissioner before he was appointed Acting Commissioner in April 2023.
"Through decades of work at MCB, John has proven his dedication to the community he serves and the team at MCB," said Secretary Walsh. "Over the last few months, I have heard overwhelmingly positive responses from the community and our partners, who are excited about the breadth of experience that John brings and his passion for the work of the Commission. I look forward to our continued work to support MCB consumers living full, independent lives in communities across Massachusetts."
"I am grateful and fortunate for this opportunity to continue to serve the residents of the Commonwealth who are legally blind, as well as the broader blindness community," said Oliveira. "I am looking forward to leading our dedicated staff as we continue working together to build on this agency's tremendous history of providing social rehabilitation and employment opportunities to consumers with the goal of increasing their independence and full community participation."
MCB and Commissioner Oliveira have been long-time partners with the MBTA and the Department of System-Wide Accessibility, including:
- Hosting two Town Hall Meetings featuring both the Mobility Center and MBTA services
- Engaging monthly in communication and upcoming events
- Partnering to assist consumers in applying for the MBTA Blind Access Card via the MBTA's new online application
"Access to equitable and efficient public transportation is critical to ensuring the independence of people who are legally blind," said Oliveira. "As Commissioner, I look forward to building on MCB's strong interagency partnership with the MBTA as the transit system continues prioritizing greater accessibility for riders with disabilities."
RTAG General Meeting
Date: Thursday, October 19, 2023
Time: 3:00 PM–5:00 PM
Register for the RTAG General Meeting
This month's Agenda:
- Welcome and Zoom Directions
- RTAG Co-Chair Update – Elizabeth Foster
- SWA Updates - Laura Brelsford, AGM of System-Wide Accessibility
- Feedback Session for SWA
- The RIDE Updates - Michele Stiehler - Chief of Paratransit Services
- Feedback Session for the RIDE
- Closing Remarks
The Riders' Transportation Access Group (RTAG) is a customer organization with a mission to advise the MBTA on transportation issues that affect people with disabilities and older adults. Please join us for our upcoming general meeting.
All RTAG meetings are accessible to people with disabilities and people with limited English proficiency. Real-time captioning (CART) and an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter will be provided for this meeting. Other accessibility accommodations and language services will be provided free of charge upon request, as available.
To request reasonable accommodation or language services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kat at 978-893-8100 at least two weeks before the meeting.
Sign up for the R-TAG newsletter
Safe & Accessible Travels,
The Department of System-Wide Accessibility
Find Out how the MBTA Mobility Center can Help You
The Mobility Center, located in Boston at 1000 Massachusetts Ave, is available to anyone looking to explore accessible transit options and other community transport resources. Give us a call at 617-337-2727.
Send Us Your Feedback
We want to hear from you! To share your concerns, questions, or positive experiences with us, please visit mbta.com/customer-support or call Customer Service at 617-222-3200 (TTY: 617-222-5146).
MBTA.com/alerts has information about current, ongoing, and future service disruptions.
Learn More about Accessibility at the MBTA
We have numerous efforts underway to improve accessibility at the MBTA. Visit mbta.com/accessibility to learn more.
Get Involved with the Riders’ Transportation Access Group
The Riders’ Transportation Access Group (R-TAG) is a customer organization that advises the MBTA on issues of transportation and accessibility. Membership is open to the general public. To learn more, click the link below or attend an upcoming R-TAG meeting.
Learn about R-TAG
Check Service Alerts
MBTA.com/alerts has information about current, ongoing and future service disruptions including bus stop closures and detours.