The ability to get from place to place is one of our most basic necessities. Individuals with physical disabilities that impact their mobility can have real difficulties when their ability to access sidewalks and roads is impaired. If you are in this situation and you feel that you have faced this discrimination, you can get help. Learn more about common accessibility discrimination situations and what to do.
Think About This Situation
Steve requires use of a wheelchair. The stores and town offices in his town are located downtown. All of the sidewalks in that area are more than fifty years old, and they do not have curb cuts or ramps. The conditions unfairly restrict Steve’s access to the downtown stores and government offices, and also place Steve at risk of falling or tumbling over in his wheelchair. Do these conditions amount to disability discrimination?
YES. Steve does not enjoy full and equal access to the downtown stores and town offices. These are places of public accommodation, where goods and services are offered to the general public. The sidewalk conditions violate the law, and Steve is being discriminated against because of his disability. The town needs to update the sidewalks.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is a comprehensive federal law aimed at protecting disabled individuals from discrimination. One of the protections that the ADA addresses is accessibility. A disabled person should have the same full and fair access to government buildings, stores and shops, and to move about freely, as does everyone else in society. The ADA requires that state and local governments install curb ramps at pedestrian intersections between roads and sidewalks. Curb ramps are short ramps that are either cut through the curbs or built up to them. These ramps allow individuals using wheelchairs or with other physical impairments to move between the road and sidewalk.
The ADA requires the state and local governments to install curb ramps whenever they build new roads and sidewalks where pedestrian intersections are located. The law also requires this to be done when the roads are resurfaced or excavated for utility lines. The ADA has standards for the dimensions and characteristics of the curb ramps so there is uniformity. In general, the ramps should be built flush with the road and should have detectable raised warnings for those with visual impairments. Once the ramps are installed, the state and town must maintain them in proper working condition.
If your ability to fairly access intersections, roads, and sidewalks is restricted, you are being discriminated against. You have powerful legal rights. You can report the situation directly to the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Justice for further investigation. You should also contact one of our disability discrimination attorneys to discuss your case. We are here to help!