An Opportunity For Para Transpo Users to be Heard

One of the topics I talk about the most is Para Transpo and how the city continues to ignore the needs of people with disabilities when it comes to Para Transpo users.

Over many years, I’ve attended countless meetings at City Hall, including speaking at city council meetings. I’ve also done numerous media interviews on this topic, the most recent being last week on the Sam Laprade Show on City News Ottawa radio.

Regarding media interviews regarding Para Transpo, the same three or four people are the ones that always seem to be interviewed. Sometimes, two or three people are interviewed during a segment, and sometimes just one. Generally speaking, though, the same three or four people do the media rounds.

The actual discussion can last 20 or sometimes 30 minutes, but due to the length of the news and the segment, our interviews may get 30 seconds if we’re lucky. I understand that TV, Radio, and print journalists/columnists only get so much time and space to cover a topic, present company included.

I understand that and am not complaining. I am just stating that thirty-second news segments barely scratch the surface when discussing Para Transpo and how the City of Ottawa ignores the needs of those with disabilities.

First, a person with a disability may have communication limitations, which could be for various reasons. It may take the person a while to figure out how to explain the situation, and the reporter may need help understanding their voice. They may also need extra time to gather their thoughts before answering a question.

I’ll use myself as an example.

As many of you know by now, I’m ventilator-dependent and have a tracheostomy tube in my neck. They both play a big part in how I communicate. Now, I CAN verbally communicate, but I can be hard to understand, especially in loud places. The other thing to consider is that I can only speak when my ventilator gives me a breath every two or three seconds. Since I can only speak during each breath, I need to talk quickly. I can fit in three or four words per breath on a typical day, sometimes even five.

When it comes to being interviewed, I plan it out in my head to remember which words I think the viewers or listeners will understand, and hope it makes the final cut. As far as live interviews, any public speaking, or meeting people, it can take a lot of work. I try to keep my answers short and simple, but sometimes, it can seem like I’m rude or hate talking to people.

Truthfully, I love meeting people.

However, between a short breath every two or three seconds and very little TV airtime, I have even less time to say what I feel needs to be said,

The second thing to consider is often, the interviewer wants to interview at a separate location.

My inner response is that if it were easier for me to get around this city, you wouldn’t be interviewing me about Para Transpo or public transportation for people with disabilities in the first place.

My response is typically similar to the one above but more polite.

Despite all of the challenges we face when it comes to having conversations about Para Transpo, we continue to try to be heard by the city.

The next big meeting will take place on Monday, September 25th, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., in the Jean Pigott Hall at City Hall.

For more information and to register to attend, please visit click THIS LINK.

All city council members, the Mayor, Mark Sutcliffe, and OC Transpo executives will be present at this meeting.

Also present will be the Ottawa Transit Riders (OTR) and Para Transpo users and advocates.

If you’re unable to attend the meeting, it will be live-streamed. The exact location will be provided closer to the date.

On behalf of Ottawa Transit Riders and all Para Transpo users and advocates, we hope you can attend this meeting and help us prioritize Para Transpo for the new City Council.

Please help us voice your concerns about Para Transpo and prevent the city from continuing to ignore us.