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Did the RTC deny nearly blind riders?

Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 30, 2016
A vision therapist called 13 Action News because she says her patients who can hardly see (but are not blind) are being pushed aside by the Regional Transportation Commission.
 
Sandy Yesnick says they are being denied the services they need to get around.
 
Yesnick is the only low vision occupational therapist in the state. Her patients are not blind, but have a variety of vision impairments. She helps them with day-to-day tasks and navigating their own homes.
 
One of her patients with glaucoma was denied Paratransit services from the RTC.
 
"They struggle because they have just enough vision to get around, but not enough vision to see details," said Yesnick. "Walking outdoors, that's a whole different ball of wax."
 
She believes the reason they're being denied Paratransit, the special door-to-door pick up service for people who can't use the regular bus, is because they are not fully blind. 
 
"The problem right now is that when these people are denied services they have to find other means to get to their doctors, to get to the store, to go to the pharmacy, all those things that we actually take for granted," Yesnick said.
 
"Because people who have vision problems look so very normal, when they go for evaluations I think that the obvious is ignored: there's a vision problem."
 
She says just looking at her patients, you would never know they have any impairment. Most of them can walk and talk like anyone else. But their vision issues prevent them from getting around. One of her patients even fell and injured herself walking out to catch her taxi.
 
The RTC has turned down several of her patients, and Yesnick believes this taxpayer service needs to step up for the people she is helping. 
 
"They should actually learn about the population that they're serving," she said. "It shouldn't just be learning about wheelchairs and walkers and canes, it should actually be about the visually impaired community that they deserve to provide services to."
 
We told the RTC about this story and they gave us the following statement: 
 
"The RTC appreciates that we have customers with various cognitive and physical disabilities throughout our community. It is our agency’s goal to do everything we can to provide independence for individuals of any ability. While individuals are certified for Paratransit service based on an extensive certification process, we have a valley-wide fixed route transit system available to everyone.
 
"Our new Mobility Training Center offers individual and group mobility training in a one-of-a-kind facility so individuals with disabilities become familiar and comfortable with our fixed-route system. The Mobility Training Center is also home to Blindconnect’s Angela’s House, which is the only blindness skills training facility in the state.
 
The combination of Angela’s House and our mobility training program under one roof serves those who are blind or visually impaired to live fully and independently in our community."
 
If you have applied for Paratransit services and been denied, you can appeal their decision.