Olympia wants more inclusion for the disabled in city transportation, services


Olympia is looking into making itself more accessible for people with disabilities.

The city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) met online yesterday, Jan. 19, to discuss how the city can make itself more accommodating for people with disabilities when it comes to access to transportation and other public facilities and services.

Making transportation more accessible for the disabled will be a great help, pointed out Jody Nelson, an invited resource speaker and one of the city’s founding members of the Justice and Equity Commission.

“Transportation provides freedom,” explained Nelson

Staff liaison Michelle Swanson recounted during the meeting that the city already sent out a survey on the issue, but also realized that the study had room for improvement since it wasn’t accessible to the visually impaired.

“It gives us the opportunity to do that now,” Swanson remarked.

One JOLT reader pointed out having problems driving and staying in the lanes because of road marker issues, especially with her developing cataracts which forced her to stop driving at night.

“Where have all the lines gone?”, she asked. ”If you drive along State or 4th on the east side of Olympia especially at night and in the rain, it's kind of a guessing game as to where the lanes are.”

Nelson revealed that 36,503 Thurston residents are disabled, amounting to 13.4% of the population. Of these, 22.1% lived below the poverty line.

“This could be you,” explained Nelson, “or the people we love.”

In her presentation, Nelson shared that disabled people in the country are victims of various challenges and disadvantages; being the largest minority group, having the highest poverty rate, highest income gap, highest high school dropout rate, highest unemployment rate, and highest health inequities, among other problems.

“They’re trying to fit themselves in a world that doesn’t fit them,” Nelson revealed.

She also clarified that this should also include the aging population since people will have disability issues as they grow older and their health declines.

Local weather is also a challenge for the disabled, added Nelson, since things like snow can be a hindrance, for instance, for people with mobility or eyesight issues.

The BPAC meets every third Wednesday of every month unless announced otherwise the month. Interested observers can register to attend in advance here.


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