Officials with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today recognized the passing of disability rights advocate Marca Bristo, who was a pioneer in the fight against discrimination for people with disabilities, particularly in the area of transportation. Ms. Bristo has been recognized as a tireless advocate for the disabled, whose many distinctions and achievements included founding Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago—a leading center for advocacy, service and social change for people with disabilities for which she served as president.
“I first met Marca when she was a plaintiff in the Kent Jones vs. CTA and the Illinois Department of Human Rights complaint and her advocacy and litigation was the reason that CTA started to make its buses accessible, even before the American with Disabilities Act was passed,” said CTA President Dorval Carter, Jr. “Marca was a tireless crusader for persons with disabilities and their civil rights, and we have all benefitted from her strong advocacy and passion for the disabled.”
Most recently, Ms. Bristo consulted in the development of CTA’s All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Plan, which will serve as a roadmap for creating equal access to public transportation that benefits both the City of Chicago and the state of Illinois. ASAP is a blueprint for making its rail system 100 percent vertically accessible over the next 20 years.
Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson also provided his thoughts on the importance of Ms. Bristo’s accomplishments.
“As a fierce activist in the fight for the rights of the disabled, Marca’s advocacy was important and could be felt through the decades, even if you didn’t know her name,” said Chairman Peterson. “Every time a disabled person is able to board a CTA bus, it is a reflection of the impact of Marca’s efforts.”
Kevin Irvine, Chicago Transit Board member, former Access Living board member and, himself, an activist for people with disabilities who worked closely with Ms. Bristo praised her legacy.
“Marca was a dear friend for over 20 years, but also a mentor who taught me so much about disability rights and advocacy,” said Director Irvine. “She helped me and countless other disabled people to find, use and amplify our voices. The CTA, like many other issues to which Marca directed her energy, would not be where it is today without her efforts.”