Mar 8, 2009, 5:01 PM
Post #10 of 10
Re: [IslaZina] Handicapped going to Mexico
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I am including the full text of this Mexico City News article because the link is dynamic and likely to expire:
Rights advocates say regulations are unfair to the disabled
BY NACHA CATTAN
Mexico City's new traffic regulations use discriminatory language and do not consider the special conditions of the disabled, a D.F. Human Rights Commission official says.
The strict driving laws introduced on Thursday require the disabled to use pedestrian bridges, tunnels and ramps, but few are adapted for wheelchair use, said Carlos Ríos, a councilor at the commission, who relies on a wheelchair.
"I can't even use the sidewalks because they are death traps," said Ríos, who travels in the street instead. "And the ramps are either raised above the ground or have obstructions in front of them. I would happily cross a bridge if there were an elevator."
The regulations are just the latest affront by a city that has done little to make public places such as the Metro more accessible for people with disabilities, Ríos said.
But the capital's public security undersecretary, Alfredo Hernández, insisted that the city is working to improve conditions for the disabled. It has built ramps and installed Braille signs in Metrobus stations, and the new traffic regulations double the fines for drivers who block special ramps and parking spots for people with disabilities, he said.
"In the end we are trying to increase security for everyone," Hernández said. "We don't want to discriminate against anyone."
As of Thursday, police can fine disabled passengers for riding in a vehicle without being strapped into a "restraint system." The same rule applies to children under 12.
The term "restraint system" is confusing and does not account for the diversity among the disabled, some of whom do not need any special protection, Ríos said.
"What kind of restraint system, like Hannibal Lecter?" he said.
But the most unsettling clause in the regulations define the disabled as anyone who is impeded from doing a "normal" activity, which Ríos says serves to perpetuate stereotypes of the disabled as being "abnormal."
"Using this language is without a doubt discriminatory," Ríos said.
Public security officials defended the rules, saying they are worded to imply that restraint systems should be used as needed and that only bridges and tunnels equipped with elevators are required for the disabled.
But Ríos believes the language could be much clearer.
Police said that they had gone out of their way to be more sensitive in their language when they drafted the traffic rules, working closely with activists and adopting terms such as "people with disabilities" - as opposed to still common terms like "minusválido," or "less-valid" - to prevent discrimination.
"I guess we'll have to take more notes," said Hernández, the public security official. "We should specify which types of disabilities [require special car seats]."