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Old 08-11-2017, 11:49 PM
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Angry Court Report Confirms Dismal State of Sidewalks for Disabled New Yorkers

Court Report Confirms Dismal State of Sidewalks for
Disabled New Yorkers
New York, NY—August 10, 2017—Special Master Robert L.
Burgdorf, Jr., one of the nation’s leading experts on disability rights,
issued a 285 page report finding that it could take another 20 years or
more to bring New York City street corners into compliance with the
Americans with Disabilities Act, if a proposed class settlement is upheld.
Concluding that such a result would be “unconscionable,” Special Master
Burgdorf recommended that the New York federal judge presiding over the
suit reject the intended class settlement as unfair, unreasonable and
inadequate for people with disabilities. The report stems from a lawsuit
filed by Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) against the City in
1994 and settled in 2002 to address sidewalk and pedestrian ramp
accessibility. Confirming the disability community’s ongoing complaints,
the detailed report states that 27 years after passage of the ADA and 15
years after settlement was reached in the EPVA suit, 80% of curb cuts are
not ADA compliant. The City’s data reveals that 75% of curb cuts have
defects related to slope, width, etc., and 25% have no detectible warning
tiles used primarily by people who are blind. The parties entered a new
agreement in 2016 to address the continued state of non-compliance and
disrepair across the five boroughs. Believing the new agreement, like the
old agreement, to be highly deficient and ineffective, a broad coalition
of disability rights organizations, strenuously objected to approval of
the settlement. The objecting organizations include Center for
Independence of the Disabled New York, Brooklyn Center for Independence of
the Disabled, Bronx Independent Living Services, Harlem Independent Living
Center, Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York, American Council of
the Blind, American Council of the Blind of New York, and United for Equal
Access. The coalition is represented by Disability Rights Advocates and
Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP. “People with disabilities have already been
forced to deal with decades of unequal access to New York City sidewalks,”
said Michelle Caiola, Director of Litigation at Disability Rights
Advocates. “The Special Master’s report calls the City out for this
ongoing discrimination and recognizes that lip service does not yield
results.” “We applaud the Special Master for a very thorough report,” said
Sid Wolinsky, Co-Founder and Supervising Attorney at Disability Rights
Advocates. “We also applaud the work of the Objector organizations as
without their dedication and perseverance the City’s massive failure to
comply with federal law requiring sidewalk accessibility would not have
come to light.” “People with disabilities put their lives at risk on the
sidewalks every day,” said Susan Dooha, Executive Director of Center for
Independence of the Disabled New York. “When there are no ramps, or the
ramps are defective, we are denied access to community life in New York
City. We expect that this report will lead the City to take swift action
to protect our rights.” The report provides 12 recommendations that are
necessary to fix the settlement and ensure that people with disabilities
will be able to access sidewalks and curb cuts in New York City, including
the following:
- The City should complete a comprehensive survey of all pedestrian
crossings for ADA compliance within 90 days.
- The City should develop a detailed plan for installing ADA-compliant
pedestrian ramps at all corners within the next 5 years and bringing
all non-compliant ramps into compliance within the next 8 years.
- The settlement should require the court to appoint a monitor to
ensure that the City is making progress toward installing and upgrading
curb ramps.
The report can be found here:
About Disability Rights Advocates
Founded in 1993, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is the leading
national nonprofit disability rights legal center. Its mission is to
advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of
disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of
disabilities in complex, system-change, class action cases. DRA is proud
to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to
DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country
have dramatically improved access to health care, employment,
transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and
housing. For more information,
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