The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles did not address the needs of people with disabilities when state officials set up a State Identification Card Day on September 28, 2011. The purpose of the day was to help people without driver’s licenses get to a DMV office to get an ID in order to vote.
“When we announced our plans to provide transportation, we based our decisions on the resources at our disposal,” said SCDMV Executive Director Kevin Shwedo. “But we did not ensure that citizens with disabilities would have access to this service and were rightfully admonished for not doing so.”
A new state law that requires a state photo ID for voters disqualifies voter registration cards alone. The law is under federal review and is being criticized by civil rights groups for instantly disenfranchising voters who may then have difficulty getting a copy of their birth certificates, or who cannot easily get to a local DMV.
To answer the latest concern, SCDMV met last week with state agencies and other organizations that support people with disabilities to determine how the agency could better serve these citizens.
“We learned a lot about what we needed to be doing and what we could be doing,” said agency spokeswoman Beth Parks.
“Our staff is eager to get out there and help all of our citizens. Our vehicle fleet consists mostly of Chevy Impala sedans, but we are fortunate to have support from the Budget and Control Board. They have offered us ADA transport vans with lifts so that we can better serve people with disabilities,” said Shwedo. “Other state agencies and organizations are also supporting our efforts. The response has been remarkable.”
The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will authorize personal assistance services for up to 21,000 seniors and persons with disabilities who receive Medicaid home care services with getting an ID. This one-time authorization includes providing rides and/or escorts to the DMV. The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SCDDSN) is working with its 32,000 individuals and families across the state to provide ID card information and assistance.
“I was pleased with the outcome of the meeting yesterday. It seems like this was a learning experience for the DMV and I’m sure that any future policies and practices will include individuals with disabilities,” said Kimberly A. Tissot, Interim Executive Director for the Disability Action Center, Inc.
To request transportation, citizens should call 1-855-STATE ID (1-855-782-8343). SCDMV will accept requests for transportation through September 22.