Posted in disability civil rights

Michael Volpe: Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk

Michale Volpe testifying before the Oregon Transportation Commission, October 19, 2018
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You probably have never thought much about that striped area alongside all disabled parking places. And you also likely haven’t noticed that quite frequently, this space is inhabited by all manner of vehicles – cars, delivery trucks, motorcycles, etc.

No need to feel guilty. There are usually no signs present, so it’s a little hard to tell what exactly that area is for. But as Michael Volpe put it to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) last October 19, those spaces for hm are the difference between being able to leave his vehicle or being a prisoner therein until the obstruction is removed.

Michael has multiple sclerosis, and is unable to move either his arms or legs. In addition, he is legally blind and is gradually losing his ability to talk. But with the help of an assistant, he could not have expressed himself more eloquently when he told the commission of the many times he was unable to find a disabled parking place, only to find that once he did locate one, that side area was blocked by another vehicle. Therefore, he could not get his wheelchair out of his van and was essentially stuck there until the impediment was removed.

In addition to Michael, there were four or five of us at that OTC meeting. Our purpose was to urge them to vote in favor of putting “No Parking” signs in those areas.

Happily, the commission voted unanimously to enact these suggested rule changes. This will be extraordinarily helpful for Michael and other wheelchair users. It will also help him continue to travel around Oregon and do his important work, which has included serving on the State Independent Living Council and the Oregon Disabilities Commission.

As a colleague once wrote about Michael, “While [he] can no longer stand or walk and while his voice must be amplified by a microphone, Mike always stands up for the rights and well-being of others, and his voice is heard loud and clear.” Now he has a better chance of actually arriving at the places where he can talk about the rights of those with disabilities.

Thanks Mike, and keep up the wonderful work!

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