United Spinal Association and the Disability Gas Coalition, a national and state level disability rights organization, have released a video of Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL 8th District) that highlights her ongoing struggle to get gas at service stations as a double amputee, war veteran heroine and wheelchair user.
15 million drivers with disabilities in the United States are unable to easily access gas at 159,000 stations nationwide.
The two organizations, which have joined forces to advocate for refueling assistance at the pump for people living with disabilities, are releasing the video (http://bit.ly/1oxvc8F) as the busy summer driving season approaches.
“All persons with disabilities, including thousands of returning veterans, understand the difficulty of filling up their tanks at gas stations that are supposedly accessible,” said Rep. Duckworth.
In the video Rep. Duck worth discusses how currently, Americans with disabilities often have to resort to ineffective and humiliating means of requesting assistance like honking their horn and flashing lights in typically loud and crowded gas stations.
She cautions that the alternative, having the disabled driver exit the vehicle, is either impossible at some gas stations, or dangerous.
“We must do better. The ability to drive independently is key to the American lifestyle. Ensuring that disabled Americans can consistently and safely refuel their vehicles is critical to their ability to live independent and fulfilling lives,” she added.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed over 20 years ago, requiring refueling assistance at the pumps when there is more than one employee on duty, yet for people who use wheelchairs, disabled veterans and other people with disabilities service remains elusive.
The problem according to the Coalition is that while gas stations are scrupulous about meeting EPA requirements for fuel storage tanks, or about meeting brand requirements for signage and logos, they are often uninformed and not meeting the legal requirement to provide refueling assistance for drivers with disabilities at the pump.
“United Spinal urges all people with disabilities to contact their elected officials and ask for legislation that requires assistance be provided at gas stations,” said James Weisman, SVP & General Counsel of United Spinal Association.
The Coalition is asking for the support of the disability community to help spread the word on the lack of gas station access by enlisting state or national organizations to join Disability Gas Coalition.
Individuals can also tweet gas station accessibility issues and include @disabilitygasco or share photos of ineffective signage or videos that document the struggle to get gas on Facebook and by joining the Disability Gas Coalition group.