Penny Kitchen bravely believes that her disability should not limit her and she wants people to know that. She also desires to inspire other disabled individuals to tell their stories so that the public and the authority will realize and understand their needs and struggles. So she shares her own thoughts and frustrations about inaccessibility.
Penny expressed her dismay and disappointment regarding Access-A-Bus-service. She stated that the bus service is offered or provided to people with cognitive and physical disabilities who need accessible transportation. However, her application for the service’s extension was not granted initially for the reason that she is able to use a conventional low-floor transport service with the assistance of a personal care attendant.
Penny admitted that it’s true; she is able to utilize a transit with the help of an attendant. But she still needs the door-to-door, shared ride service of Halifax Transit’s Access-A-Bus especially during the winter season when the sidewalks to the nearest bus stop are nowhere near possible to reach.
For a woman with a cerebral palsy, not granting her application and ignoring her need means putting a limit to her freedom and independence. The city’s denial of their services and support to her frustrated Penny because such denial limits her ability to access opportunities and resources offered and provided by the city.
Penny cited a painful experience regarding the lack of accessible transportation. It was a cold Monday morning. She was waiting in the rain and snow for a ride. And she was disappointed that two buses already passed by but she can’t get on them because they are not wheelchair-accessible. Being out in the cold for a long while, her breathing was affected and she was advised to subscribe a puffer.
Penny voiced out that the winter months make it difficult to get out and socialize. During the winter season, due to ice and snow, it is very difficult, or nearly possible, for her to safely go to bus stops. Like everybody else, Penny conveyed that she also needs transportation to get to her appointments, to attend special events, or take part in leisure activities. Going to certain locations, accessible bus routes are required. She then added that because she is a wheelchair user it should not limit her to go to places she wants to go.
She further said that the other reason why her application was denied was due to her statement in her letter that she is an active member of the Team Nova Scotia and plays national boccia, a sport aimed at athletes with a degree of physical disability. She was deemed ineligible for the Access-A-Bus service because of being a sports enthusiast.
Penny then stressed out that she is fully aware that other disabled individuals using manual wheelchairs and have personal care attendants are using the service to carry their belongings, groceries and other things. She then stated that it’s mainly because of that, the Access-A-Bus exists. So why can’t she use the service?
Penny expressed that all she wanted is to have an equal opportunity to go around and cruise her beautiful hometown. She said that it is her right to gain access to all public places. A restriction and denial on accessible transportation limits her right and ability to live with freedom and independence.
Penny hoped that with her story, people will realize the challenges she faces every day and may it raise awareness on the need for a more accessible and inclusive city. She wanted to tell her experience to inspire other people who use wheelchairs to never be afraid of claiming and fighting for their rights for accessible transportation.