BraunAbility Documentary Shows Lack of Access in New York City

The first documentary film by BraunAbility suggests that accessible transportation in New York City is still just a dream for many wheelchair users.

Access Denied is a short film by Reid Davenport, a filmmaker who has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair. 

During the documentary, Davenport demonstrates the realities of being a wheelchair user trying to navigate through New York City. Discussed in the film are the city’s supposedly accessible taxicab fleet, ride-sharing systems, ferries, buses and subways.

The film shows what happens when Davenport and a friend try to get onto the subway at a supposedly accessible station (only 24 percent of city stations claim to be accessible).

Davenport attempts to use UberWAV, the ride-sharing app’s accessible vehicle system. Other wheelchair users tell Davenport about trying to use other forms of public transportation.

While New York City is often held up as an example of American freedom, “not enough has been said about how that freedom is fleeting for people who use wheelchairs,” Davenport says in the film, pointing out that the city has a half-million residents with disabilities.

In a message to industry stakeholders, BraunAbility explained why it sponsored the film and was helping to distribute it: “While it wouldn’t be fair to say we don’t have a dog in this fight, this documentary was created from the recognition that the political opposition to providing accessible transportation for people in wheelchairs in New York City was hurting the people we care most about: wheelchair users. Access Denied isn’t about selling accessible taxis. It isn’t about a company at all. It’s about the idea that every effort should be made to ensure America’s great cities are accessible to everyone.” 

View the film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hgvd6-Vw5uw.

“This is the kind of soft discrimination that people don’t want to identify as discrimination,” said Jim Weisman, president/CEO of United Spinal Association. “I thought by now we wouldn’t be having these conversations.”

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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