Ron Brooks, CEO of Accessible Avenue, shares his personal and professional journey in advocating for accessible transportation, sharing insights on the specific challenges faced by people with disabilities and calling for a systemic approach to inclusivity in nonprofit operations and services. Ron, who is blind, brings a unique perspective as someone who directly experiences the challenges he advocates against, emphasizing the importance of lived experience in the nonprofit sector.

Ron’s organization, Accessible Avenue, consults with transportation agencies and technology developers to improve services for people with disabilities. It also educates community advocates on navigating the complex public transportation industry to effectively champion accessibility improvements.

Throughout the interview, Ron emphasizes the transformative power of transportation in his life. He recounts his transition from a vision-impaired child in Indiana to a key player in the transportation sector. His personal struggles with mobility and public transportation fueled his passion for making these systems more inclusive for people with disabilities. Ron’s narrative illustrates the broader impact of transportation accessibility on individuals’ independence and quality of life.

Ron encapsulates his view: “I don’t have to figure out my ‘why’ in terms of these issues, these issues affect every day that I walk around on planet Earth. I’m living the reality that I’m in.” This statement highlights his intrinsic motivation and commitment to improving transportation access, rooted in his daily experiences.

Ron continues on the broader implications of transportation accessibility for nonprofits. He points out that about 19% to 25% of the U.S. population has a disability that affects their mobility and access to traditional transportation means. He stresses that accessibility issues are not niche but affect a significant portion of the community, including the families and colleagues of those directly impacted.

Ron advocates for proactive engagement by nonprofits in transportation planning. He suggests appointing dedicated personnel to understand and influence local transportation policies and practices, ensuring that the needs of clients and staff with disabilities are considered. This advocacy, Ron argues, should be integral to an organization’s mission and operations, emphasizing the local nature of transportation decisions.