Category Archives: Disabilities

May 16 2014

Faces of Public Health: Marilyn Golden


Earlier this week the White House honored eleven transportation “Champions of Change” for their roles in ensuring that transportation facilities, services and jobs help individuals and their communities.

Champions include:

  • Wanda Vazquez, a mentor and trainer in Chicago who helps Hispanic advocates in the Chicago area become certified child passenger safety technicians, and help families understand the importance of safe transportation for their children.
  • Daphne Izer, head of the twenty-year-old Parents Against Tired Truckers.
  • Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, based in Berkeley, California, where she has advocated for greater access to public and private transportation for people with disabilities.

Research from the U.S. Department of Transportation has found that poor transportation access is a factor preventing lower income Americans from gaining higher income levels than their parents. “Transportation plays a critical role in connecting Americans and communities to economic opportunity through connectivity, job creation, and economic growth,” said U.S. Secretary of Transpiration Anthony Foxx at the event recognizing the Champions. “Recognizing social mobility as a defining trait of America’s promise, access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation is critical.”

Following the awards ceremony, NewPublicHealth spoke with Marilyn Golden about her work.

NewPublicHealth: How much more is there to be done to help people with disabilities to get easier access to transportation to take them where they need to go, whether it’s recreational, medical, or work?

Marilyn Golden: We should acknowledge that a lot has been done under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by transit agencies, with a lot of thank you to the U.S. Department of Transportation, particularly the Federal Transit Administration for enforcing the ADA in a sufficiently robust manner that transit agencies do respond.

I shouldn’t suggest that every transit agency only acts because of an enforcement action. It’s much more diverse than that, and some are very proactive on their own and really leaders in the industry, and then there are transit agencies that trail behind. We do have many challenges that remain. 

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Mar 9 2012

ReelAbilities: Appreciating the Lives, Stories and Challenges of People With Disabilities


Missed the Reelabilities Film Festival in New York, Washington or Philadelphia? The festival, which features invited films showing the lives, loves, triumphs and challenges of individuals and artists with different disabilities, is on the road with festivals planned for Chicago in April and Richmond in May, along with other cities later this year.

The three-year old festival grew out of a meeting of agencies in New York City that serve people with disabilities to help “widen the definition of community and broaden the notion of inclusion,” says Anita Altman, founder of the festival, and Deputy Managing Director, Department of Government and External Affairs of UJA-Federation, an umbrella group in New York City for services to the Jewish and greater community. Altman is also founder of the organization’s Task Force on People with Disabilities. At that meeting, says Altman, the group realized it could be a change agent for society and chose film as the vehicle.

Altman says a key goal of the festival is a greater acceptance and understanding in society of people with disabilities, says Altman. A key element of the festival is that the goal goes far beyond simply screening films. Each showing includes a “talkback” about the film and its lessons learned. “It’s about helping to raise consciousness,” says Altman.

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Feb 20 2012

Recommended Reading: Travel Tips for Older or Disabled Travelers

NewPublicHealth writers are on the road a lot, so we appreciated a recent column in The New York Times, that offered helpful ideas for older flyers. Truth is, many of the tips—carts to speed you to your gate, ordering a wheel chair from an airline, small fees for early boarding and storage room—are available to anyone who flies, and may also be beneficial to disabled travelers.

Bonus Travel Tips:

  • Many more airports than listed in the article have golf carts to get you to the gate; stay to the side of the corridors and flag one down. You’ll need to show a ticket for a flight that day.
  • No mobility problems? For some extra physical activity, skip the tram or train and walk to the gate. At some airports, that can get you a walk of a quarter mile or more.

Feb 8 2012

Getting Ready for a Maturing America

WalkWise Hendersonville, NC, home of the Walk Wise, Drive Smart campaign to create more pedestrian-friendly environments for senior adults (photo courtesy of

The startling new National Association of Area Agencies on Aging report, "The Maturing of America," concludes that many communities are unprepared for their quickly aging populations, with "nowhere near the level of progress that has to be made to ensure that communities are livable for people of all ages." Last week at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, a panel discussed the challenges our nation will face as it ages and how we can better design communities to be healthier and more accessible for all age groups.

Rebecca Hunter, MEd, of the University of North Carolina Institute on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthy Aging Research Network, said we’re currently facing a "perfect storm" when it comes to aging:

  • Baby boomers are starting to reach “older adult” status
  • There is a vast increase in the “oldest old,” or age 85 and above
  • The economic downturn means we are less and less prepared for the health and social consequences of this trend

We are moving into an era when at least one in five Americans will be age 65 and older, said Hunter. "We need to ensure our communities are livable for all people."

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