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Civil Rights Case Says New York City Fails to Make Sidewalks Accessible

PHOTO: A federal lawsuit charges the City of New York with failing to make sidewalks safe for New Yorkers with disabilities. Photo courtesy of CIDNY.

PHOTO: A federal lawsuit charges the City of New York with failing to make sidewalks safe for New Yorkers with disabilities. Photo courtesy of CIDNY.
July 31, 2014

NEW YORK – It's being called a landmark civil rights lawsuit and it claims New York City is in violation of federal disability civil rights laws.

It has been 24 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became the law of the land, and Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York (CIDNY), says the suit was filed because far too many sidewalks in New York City fail to comply with Americans with ADA standards.

"They need to fix the sidewalks and the pedestrian routes so that thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities can get around the city every day."

The city is expected to file a response in the case.

Dooha says CIDNY is especially concerned because many of its workers and volunteers are New Yorkers with disabilities that she says are put at risk by the failure to comply with federal law.

Dooha says 400,000 New Yorkers with ambulatory disabilities and 200,000 with vision disabilities are at risk on the sidewalks of New York City.

CIDNY surveyed 157 intersections in lower Manhattan in June.

"More than half didn't have a detectable warning, meaning if you are blind and you're using a cane, or working with a dog, there is no warning on the sidewalk to show you when you are approaching the street," Dooha points out.

She says CIDNY is still open to negotiation and just wants the city to live up to its own stated goals when it comes to meeting the needs of New Yorkers with disabilities.

"The mayor has announced a Vision Zero campaign to work towards having no pedestrian deaths in New York City,” Dooha says. “And if we are to meet that goal, then people with disabilities have to be able to cross the street safely. "

The suit was filed by Disability Rights Advocates and the law firm Sheppard, Mullin Richter and Hampton on behalf of CIDNY.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY