Q&A: Quemuel Arroyo of NYC DOT

1800wheelchair caught up with Quemuel Arroyo of New York City’s Department of Transportation during Summer Streets this past August. Quemuel was out with a dozen Invacare handcycles, which anyone could try out for themselves.

We caught with Quemuel recently to find out more about the Summer Streets program and the man, himself:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you come from and how did you end up at the DOT?

QA-HeadshotA: Though I was born in Dominican Republic, I consider myself a native New Yorker. I first came to NYC when I was three months old and grew up travelling between the DR and NYC. At eighteen I endured a spinal cord injury while downhill mountain biking in Vermont. It was then when I became a member of disability community and an advocate for inclusion and access. Shortly after my accident, I attended New York University where I earned a bachelors of arts in Urban Design and History of Architecture. After NYU, I work at Morgan Stanley before coming to the New York City Department of Transportation.

Q: What’s your role at the DOT?

A: I am the Policy Analyst for Accessibility and ADA coordinator at NYC DOT.

Q: What kind of programs and initiatives are you involved in?

A: Ranging from our Staten Island Ferry to our street plazas and 789 bridges, I oversee all matters of accessibility for the agency.

Q: What was the genesis of the handcycle program? How was it received on Summer Streets? What’s next for those handcycles?

Summer-Streets_Handcycles_DOT1-300x168-bflnyc-orgA: This past summer NYC was ranked one of the top cycling cities in the US. A cyclist myself, I wanted to provide New Yorkers with disability the opportunity to bike like everyone else. Our hand-cycling pilot started as one of many activations during Summer Streets 2015. The public loved the bikes! In three Saturdays, we had close to 900 people ride the 10 hand-cycles we purchased for this pilot. We are still in the pilot stage for hand-cycling and are looking to partner with sister agencies like the park department to gather more feedback on the bikes and assess the publics’ interest in hand-cycling.

Q: Coming from the private sector, how are things different in the public sector?

A: There are many differences working in the public sector, but above all, the responsibility I feel to doing right by all New Yorkers, and specific to my role, New Yorkers with disabilities is real. I am here to represent over 800,000 New Yorkers with disabilities and I think about that every time I enter my office.

Q: Outside of work, what kinds of things are you interested in?

A: I try to stay active and involved outside of work. I have a strong believe in education and particularly in providing quality education to disenfranchised urban youth in New York City. I feed that passion in my works as a board member of New York City Outward Bound Schools and the New York University Alumni Board. After my accident, I was inspired to pursue a fulfilling life by Project Sunshine, an incredible not for profit, and now I am one of their global ambassadors and volunteers. I am avid swimmer and continue to swim regularly at my local YMCA where I once was a lifeguard. I rock-climb regularly and as often as possible, enjoy getaway trips for scuba diving and skiing.

Courtery of Quemuel Arroyo & Barrier Free Living

ADA Resources in the Workplace

Disabled citizens have faced hardships in trying to live everyday lives. From having difficulties accessing buildings to difficulties using transportation to having difficulties in being incorporated into regular life, the disabled have had to overcome long odds.

Over the course of history, disabled people have had to face adversity in their everyday lives. Because of these difficulties, the U.S. Government adopted the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President Bush. The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under particular circumstances, discrimination based on a disability. It affords related protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. Disability is defined by the ADA as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” The determination of whether any specific condition is considered a disability is made on a case by case basis. Certain specific conditions are barred as disabilities, such as current substance abuse and visual impairment which is correctable by prescription lenses.”

The ADA has subsequently had additional amendments to the Act in September 2008, which went into effect on January 1, 2009. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 gave workers some broader protections than what was in the original Act.

The ADA was a very broad piece of legislation that covered various aspects for the lives of disabled people. In addition to provisions for disabled workers, the ADA also gave guidance on public entities and transportation, public accommodations and commercial facilities, telecommunications and other provisions. The ADA not only gave guidance for implementation, but also provided for anti-discrimination provisions.

While the ADA’s requirements to level the playing field for all workers was difficult for employers to implement, it has provided for ways to give all workers the opportunity to earn a living. In regards to workers, the ADA states that a covered entity shall not discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. This applies to job application procedures, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees, workers’ compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

The Americans with Disability Act of 1990 and subsequent amendments have given disabled workers the chance to work in a safe and non-discriminatory environment. To learn more about workers and the ADA, we have gathered a collection of resources:

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1800wheelchair is proud to offer a wide selection of bathroom safety items: commodes, shower seats, transfer benches, and bath tub lifts.

Guest-Post: Why Visitability is Necessary

The following is a guest post authored by Melissa theSeed. Find her at https://theseed9811.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/9811.

I vividly remember a point in time where I wished desperately that the whole world was in a wheelchair, so that everyone could know what my daughter had to go through just to go to someone’s home. Now, it looks like the city of Austin, Texas is creating that world. Well, kind of.

Recently, news broke that the city council is deciding on a measure that could make all newly built homes wheelchair accessible. The first two drafts have already been approved, and it looks like the third and final draft may push through without a problem. If approved, levered door handles, light switches placed at lower heights and wide doorways will be required on the first floors of new single-family homes and duplexes. Not widely talked about – yet – the idea behind the legislation is known as “visitability.” This is a concept in home design that seeks to allow resident or visiting wheelchair users to access a home without issue. There are cities in the U.S. that already have these rules in place: San Antonio, Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Tucson, Ariz. According to the website www.visitability.org, a home is visitable when it meets three basic requirements:

* At least one zero-step entrance
* Doors with a minimum of 32-inch clearance
* At least one bathroom on the main floor that is wheelchair accessible

Becoming Disabled

Some of you may be wondering why this is necessary. If you’re reading this and you’re not disabled then you probably don’t view this as important enough to warrant regulation. But remember, just because you weren’t born with a disability doesn’t mean you will never become disabled. Here are three examples you may have never thought about:

1. Old Age

Think about your (or your friends’) grandparents. Do they use walkers or hearing aids? Do they have trouble standing, reaching, bathing, or cooking? Did they always have those problems? Most likely, these disabilities are of the acquired type. An acquired disability is a condition that was not present at birth, but rather, occurs at some point during an individual’s life. Oftentimes, the word “disabled” is not used when referring to senior citizens, especially if they’ve lived independently their entire lives. But that’s exactly what they have become (and what the large majority of us will become should we be blessed enough to live into our 60’s and beyond). A home built with visitability in mind will increase the chances that a person can live on in their own home rather than being moved into a nursing facility. And by “a person” I mean YOU!

2. Illness

There are also people who remain healthy into their 30’s and 40’s and then become ill or develop medical conditions which limit their ability to be as independent as they have always been. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) typically begin to appear in adults around this age and are debilitating diseases which cause severe physical disabilities. Don’t think this will happen to you? MS tends to appear between the ages of 20 and 40 in otherwise normally developing people and fifteen new cases of ALS are diagnosed daily in the US.

Arthritis is another culprit. According to the CDC, nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. It’s the most common cause of disability and limits or prevents over 21 million Americans from being able to climb stairs, walk extended distances, or work. It’s more common in women than men but affects all racial and ethnic groups. One study shows that the risk of developing osteoarthritis in your knee that causes pain is 45% and estimates show that 57% of people who have had a knee injury or are obese will develop osteoarthritis. That’s about half of you reading this!

And of course, there are countless other conditions that can strike at any time and cause disability in an adult who has otherwise lived a healthy and independent life.

3. Accidents

What about those that are in accidents and become paralyzed or receive a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? Have you seen the show Push Girls? Every one of those women was in an accident that paralyzed them. Any of these situations can happen to each and every one of you. Sounds bleak, I know, but imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t enjoy the little things you do now, like going to your sister’s house for dinner or to your friend’s for girls night as you always have because your wheelchair can’t go up the one step leading into their home, or your wheelchair can’t get through the doorway into the living room. Now imagine if every new home built allowed you to come and go as you please, without even a thought.

Disabled America

According to the US census, 1 in 5 citizens has at least one disability and the number is set to grow as baby boomers age. Just over 1 in 4 American citizens in their 20’s will become disabled before they retire. But the “that can’t happen to me” mentality keeps most of us from worrying about our futures. 64% of wage earners believe they have a 2% or less chance of being disabled for 3 months or more during their working career. The actual odds for a worker entering the workforce today are about 25%!

Maybe it’s time you start thinking about what could happen to you or your spouse now and planning ahead. Don’t you think having a home already set up to visitability standards would make your life easier in the long run? I hope to see this concept become the standard in my lifetime for all our sakes.

Make your home more access able with our assortment of wheelchair ramps, including threshold and folding ramps. We also offer ramps for your car, minivan or full sized van.

Legal Resources for the Elderly

This article is brought to you by 1800wheelchair – The Wheelchair & Walker and Scooter Store.

The aging population may find that as they grow older, there are many age specific legal issues that can arise. Elder law is an area of legal practice that places emphasis on legal topics that affect the elderly. This field of practice covers a wide range of issues facing the elderly and it is often recommended that senior citizens seek counseling and advice from lawyers certified in elder law.

Because many elderly people are unable to handle their daily tasks by themselves, they may require assistance from other people from time to time. Their dependence on other people may lead to certain problems, some of which can only be solved legally. One of the most common problems that elderly people face is elder abuse. Presently, there are close to six million elder abuse cases in the United States every year, and these cases can come in the form of physical abuse, exploitation, neglect, and others.

Elderly people may also seek out the help of a lawyer when making end of life arrangements. These can come in the form or planning wills, estates, funerals, power of attorneys and more. It is especially important that advanced health care decisions be made as well as funding for health care needs by obtaining medical insurance, medical compensation, income assistance and other income related support. The elder population also faces other hardships in the form of consumer issues. Unfortunately many senior citizens are taken advantage of and fall victim to fraud, identity theft and other crimes. Fortunately, there are laws in the country that provide adequate protection for elderly people, and it is important that elderly people know their legal rights. Look to the following resource guide for insight on important elder issues.

Advanced Health Care Decisions

Powers of Attorney

Wills, Trusts, and Estates


  • The Funeral Rule: A set of rules established by the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers of funeral goods.
  • Funeral Fraud: Those who understand their consumer rights can prevent funeral fraud.


Medical and Health Insurance

  • Medicare: Extensive information on Medicare.
  • Medicaid Rules: Learn more about Medicaid for elderly people in this website.
  • Understanding HIPAA: Find out why elderly people need to understand their rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Medicaid in Nursing Homes

Long Term Care Financing

Social Security

Income Assistance

Consumer Issues

Elder Abuse

  • Elder Abuse Laws: Federal and state laws that provide protection for victims of elder abuse.
  • Elder Abuse Reporting: This document reveals how laws regarding elder abuse vary from one state to another.
  • Elder Abuse Article: A journal article that offers an interesting insight into elder abuse laws.

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1800wheelchair is proud to offer a wide selection of bathroom safety items: commodes, shower seats, transfer benches, and bath tub lifts.

State Accessibility Laws

By law, people with disabilities are ensured equal opportunities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, telecommunications, commercial facilities, and state and local government. Along with the Americans with Disabilities Act, each state has their own laws regarding disability rights. The following resources will help you learn about the disability rights laws in your state.

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program

Alaska Disability Law Center

Arizona Center For Disability Law

Arkansas Disability Rights Center

California Disability Laws and Regulations

Colorado Disability Advocacy

Connecticut Disability Laws and Benefits

Delaware Disabilities Law Program

District of Columbia Disability Law Center

Florida Disability Law Resources

Georgia Disability and Mental Health

Hawaii Disability Rights Center

Idaho Disability Laws

Illinois Disability Rights

Indiana Disability Laws

Iowa Disability Law Resources

Kansas Disability Rights Center

Kentucky Office of Disabilities

Louisiana Disability Laws

Maine Disability Law Resources

Maryland Disability Law Center

Massachusetts Disability Law Center

Michigan Disability Law Resources

Minnesota Disability Law Center

Mississippi Disability Rights

Missouri Disability Information

Montana Disability Rights

Nebraska Disability Rights Advocacy

Nevada Disability Law Center

New Hampshire Disabilities Rights Center

New Jersey Disability Laws

New Mexico Disability Rights

New York Disability & Health Laws

North Carolina Disability Rights

North Dakota Disability Services

Ohio American Disabilities Act

Oklahoma Disability Law Center

Oregon Disability Rights

Pennsylvania Disability Rights Network

Rhode Island Disability Law Center

South Carolina Disability Law Resources

South Dakota Disability Determination Services

Tennessee Disability Law Center

Texas Disability Law Resources

Utah Disability Law Center

Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights

Virginia Disability Rights Services

Washington Disability Rights Laws

West Virginia Disability Laws

Wisonconsin Disability Law

Wyoming Disability Laws

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1800wheelchair is proud to offer a wide selection products doctor’s offices: exam tables, hospital beds, scales, exam gloves, masks and gowns.

Job Resources for Individuals With Disabilities

Job Seeking

Legal Assistance & Accessibility Guidelines

General Resources

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