Hawaii Disabled Residents Want Equal Accessibility

Rep. John Mizuno
Rep. John Mizuno

MANOA (KHNL) -- There are more than 20,000 "disabled" residents in Hawaii.

While the "American Disabilities Act" passed almost 20 years ago, challenged citizens say we still have a long way to go until we see "equal accessibility."

Hawaii special needs residents say when it comes to things like public transportation and employment, we've come along way, but there are still a lot of threats to the safety of the challenged community.

Born with complete blindness, Hilarion Kamaka knows how to get around.

"I always use my cane left and right and if there's people coming, I put it by me," said Kamaka.

"We're having a number of fatalities to pedestrians our Kapuna and especially our disabled," said Rep. John Mizuno.

But Representative John Mizuno says the local challenged community still faces many obstacles.

Busy intersections like this one at Kapiolani and Atkinson are one of the biggest problems for people with physical challenges. It takes the average person about 20 seconds to get across but for those with disabilities that might not be enough.

"There's still a long way to go and I think that's why its great that the state can actively do more not only the state but the city and county," said Mizuno.

A possible solution is for businesses in congested areas to pull their resources together to ensure accessibility on sidewalks, intersections and entrances.

"If we can accommodate the different disabilities we can level the playing field and let everybody shine," said Jon Shirak of Workforce Resources.

And for Hawaii's challenged citizens, it's a hope that new technology continues to strengthen "ability" in "disability."

Hawaii's House of Representatives recently passed a bill that will identify state and county intersections that don't allow enough time for elderly and challenged citizens to cross.

Lawmakers say they'll take the findings of the million dollar study and make changes accordingly.