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Accessibility Advocate Pushing For Changes To Wichita’s Transit System

Nadya Faulx
Andrew Crane stands in the lobby of KMUW. He's pushing for changes to Wichita's public transportation to make it more accessible for riders who are blind or visually impaired.

Andrew Crane relies heavily on public transportation.

He takes the bus from his home in west Wichita to downtown, often with his guide dog, Vaughn.

But the trip isn’t easy to navigate: Route maps aren’t available in Braille, and many bus stops aren’t clearly marked.

“I had that happen to me several times. I was standing outside waiting on a bus, bus zoomed right past me," Crane recalls. "It wasn’t a bus stop.”

Wichita Transit offers paratransit service to eligible riders, but Crane says there are ways to make the city's public transportation system better for all riders — in particular, people who are blind or visually impaired and people with disabilities.

"The higher-up people need to hear from the disabled community," he says, "need to hear from the blind community."

Some of the changes he has pushed for for years are finally coming to fruition. A spokesman for Wichita Transit says there aren't any current plans to print maps in Braille, but the department is evaluating some bus stops for improvements, like benches and shelters, and will roll out a plastic Smart Card in the coming months to make paying for trips easier.

The My Stop phone app, which is operated by a third party, was recently updated to include voice command capabilities.

Crane says improvements to the system will give blind and disabled communities more access to the city.

“They don’t want to be stuck at their house. They don’t want to be sheltered," he says. "They want to move around."

Nadya Faulx is KMUW's Digital News Editor and Reporter, which means she splits her time between working on-air and working online, managing news on KMUW.org, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She joined KMUW in 2015 after working for a newspaper in western North Dakota. Before that she was a diversity intern at NPR in Washington, D.C.