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Neighborhood Involvement

Building inclusive, safe and livable neighborhoods and communities.

ONI Main: 503-823-4519

City/County Info: 503-823-4000

TDD: 503-823-6868

1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland, OR 97204

We want to hear what your thoughts are on the larger issues concerning The City and the people with disabilities who live, play, work and worship here.

2014 Making a Difference Awards

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Featuring Wheelchair Tennis Paralympian David Wagner, Tues Oct 14th from 5:30-7:pm at Double Tree Lloyd Center

tennis flyer-01

Free and open to the public

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

in the DoubleTree Hotel, Lloyd Center

Public Transportation Etiquette I wish people practiced:

How to practice inclusive transit techniques with and for people with disabilities

Look, I’m with Anne Frank.  I believe deep down, people are good, but man, it gets on my last nerve sometimes when they are ignorant to the world around them…and as a member of the most invisible class of people I see a lot of uncouth behavior, especially on public transportation.  So, for your consideration, ten rules of etiquette to make public transportation more enjoyable for people with disabilities and more universally accessible for… well, everyone!


  1. If you have a backpack or bag, be mindful that your bag is at head level for both people in wheelchairs and sitting in seatsInterior Streetcar showing disabled spot.  Every time you turn, you are probably whacking someone in the head or face…so pull your bag in front of you when you turn, or remember you have a bag sticking out of your back.
  2. The seats in front of the wheelchair empty spot are for people who use walkers, canes, or can’t stand for long periods of time.  Now, I know some people have hidden disabilities, but, and I’ll say please, if you are an able-bodied person and see someone with limited ability get on your bus/train, offer them your seat.  And I know some people may get mad and say they can stand too, which you can remain seated and understand that anger is not about your offer but their internal struggle.  You are just being mindful and doing the right thing.And 
  3. on the subject of those wheelchair spaces: you may notice they have a call button for the door along side them.  These buttons are at an easy accessible level and are meant for wheelchair users.  Essentially the wheelchair user can pull up alongside it to signal their stop.  If you are standing in that spot leaning against the grab bar and someone with a wheelchair boards your bus/train, offer to move.  Some people, myself included, often rather sit by the door (on MAX, for example) for easier access out of the train, so you may not have to move.  Likewise, lots of people prefer to sit in that designated spot, so you should also be prepared to move.
  4. Strollers are not wheelchairs.  I am all for universal design and if you are riding public transportation with a stroller or carriage go ahead and use the space…BUT as I stated above those spots are there for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility.  You need to be prepared to move.  This is also true and doubly so for luggage.  In fact, don’t even use that spot with luggage or a bike, as you will inevitably need to move, so just situate yourself somewhere else.
  5. If you are on the MAX, don’t stand in front of the door… I know sometimes you’re going to a Timbers game or Blazer game and it can’t be helped, but if you can avoid it… please do.  The ramp deployment button is next to the door, and while the door opens automatically for everyone else, if you need the ramp because you have a chair or walker, you will need to hit that button before the MAX stop, and when someone is standing in front of it, it adds an additional challenge.
  6. Service animals are working animals.  I know they’re super cute but you need to ask the owner if it is okay to touch them.  And I know you love dogs but some of them need to stay focused…imagine if you were working at your desk and someone randomly started petting you… it would be distracting, no?
  7. Likewise, service animals have fragile little tails and paws… so don’t step on them.  Person boarding bus with service animalEspecially chair users… if you’re in tight quarters, ask the owner of the dog to protect there appendages if you need space to get by.
  8. In an ideal world all bus drivers would call out the number of their bus… but they don’t – so if I see someone who is using a white cane at my stop I always offer to call out bus numbers to them… they may say no but I ask.
  9. This one is for everybody… if someone is wearing headphones, leave them be… unless you really need to ask an important question, you should not be disturbing other people zoning out on their headphones. 
  10. There are lots of people who need to use the disabled areas on public transportation.  Be smart and kind… if someone is using a cane or walker and you are a chair user in the spot in front of the easy access seats, move out of the way so that they can sit down.  If you can sit on your walker and the seats are all taken by folks who seem to need them, just sit on your walker.  We have enough to deal with trying to educate the non-disabled community, so let’s try and be a little more helpful to each other!

Making an ADA complaint to the Department of Justice

A personal story about making a complaint to the Department of Justice


Outline picture of wheelchair symbolI wanted to take some time and blog to you all about my experience with filing a DOJ complaint.  By the nature of the process I must comply with confidentiality so can not go into great detail about the actual claim, but did want to chat about the process itself.

Last November I had an experience out of state traveling that I felt violated my ADA rights.  I did try to approach the managing body of the establishment about my issues before making my complaint.  The managing body offered what was their best solution and when I felt it did not adequately resolve my complaint I made the decision to file a claim with the Department of Justice.

I found all the info I needed to file at this website:

 It was pretty simple: My name and contact info and the offending party’s; A description of the offence, included dates and details; other relevant information and what sort of accommodations I might need to receive written contact from the DOJ.  I chose to mail it in but, there is a provision to send e-mail as well.

I sent this off in November of 2011.  I received a packet back from the DOJ in September 2012, letting me know that my case could go to mediation.  I did, and sent the signed agreement to go to mediation back to the DOJ.  In December of 2012 I received a call from the mediator who would preside over my claim.  It took over a year to get to the mediation, which I know feels like a long time to wait for justice to be served.  Unfortunately, because the ADA is a complaint driven law, unless people go through the complaint process change will not happen.

The mediator was very available to me before the mediation to answer any questions I had about the process.  I think the most important thing for any of you out there, thinking of filing a complaint, is to know that mediators through this process are not ADA experts. There is a provision through the process to use federal resources for law interpretation, that said I would highly recommend you do your homework before hand.  The party you are making a complaint against will most likely have lawyers representing them and I guarantee you the lawyers have done their homework.

The day of the mediation arrived about three weeks after my first contact by the mediator.  While it was a little intimidating at first, the discussion went well and the mediator did a wonderful job capturing the key issues and restating them for the group so everyone was on the same page.  When the time came the mediator also clarified the agreements that each party was stating.  I felt very satisfied with the out come which included policy recommendations, etiquette training and small fiscal compensation.

I imagine not all people who go through this process will be as satisfied with the outcomes.  I think for me I was more focused on acknowledgement by the other party that my experience was not in keeping with spirit of the ADA and that they would take the steps necessary to be in alignment with the law.  I did want financial restitution for the money I put out through the incident but I was not looking to make money out of it or be compensated for “pain and suffering”.  I am not trying to say, when and if you go through this process, you should not ask for financial compensation if you feel you have been abused or oppressed to the point that it does cause you emotional trauma.  I do think though that when we as a community hold companies, organizations and institutions responsible to the law that protects our civil rights we should, when possible, focuses on changes that will help those that come after us and not monetary gains. 

The nature of the ADA as a complaint driven law puts the responsibility on all of us to call out when we see violations and injustices.  I know this can feel like a big responsibility at times, and it is human nature to want to be able to make a phone call and get instant results.  Unfortunately this is not the way it works in regards to the ADA.  I hope this encourages and not deters you from going through the process the next time you feel your rights are violated.   If you aren’t sure whether your experience is a violation you can call the DOJ for technical support at 1-800-541-0301 ex 7 and of course you can always call us here at the disability program.

To File a DOJ Complaint or Not

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an ongoing story of my personal experience filing a DOJ complaint about a ADA Title III entity

Picture of disability coordinator in front of City Hall

So I thought I would share a personal experience with you. 

In my job I refer people all the time to make ADA complaints to the DOJ and finally went through the process myself...well started it at least!

In Nov 2011 i filled a complaint about a hotel in another state.  They had assured me a reservation with a roll in shower and then upon arrive did not have one...claiming it is a first come first serve process and not a accommodation. 

This is not the first time this has happened to me so I was very clear with the folks on the reservation line that I needed the shower and they told me they called the hotel directly and checked and all was well and good.

Not only was the room not available the switching of rooms that happened on the following day took the majority of the day and by the time we left the hotel our destination location was closed.

I finally heard back from the DOJ in September and they  offered me to go to mediation. I agreed and now after three month the mediation is scheduled for this Friday.  I will keep you posted!