NYC: A Dream or a Nightmare for People with Disabilities?

New York City is a city that is difficult for many to navigate and live in, but it can be even more difficult for people with disabilities. I moved to Manhattan from Las Vegas, Nevada in the fall of 2019 and attended a graduate school at New York University. My mother was worried about me as a wheelchair user and moved across the country to New York, leaving the easily accessible city of Las Vegas, but during my previous visit here I found that the city was fairly accessible. I did. I quickly realized that my previous visits to the city were full of tourism activities, all of which were built for a wide variety of people, providing better accessibility. When I moved to New York alone, I was immediately dissatisfied with not being able to experience many of the trendy restaurants and bars in my area, as they often have stairs and no elevators. In addition, many sidewalks were uneven, curb cuts (slopes on street corners) were inconsistent, and the front wheels of my wheelchair often caught on cobblestone streets. Public transport was difficult and inaccessible, and it became difficult to leave the apartment when it snowed. As a lifelong user of a wheelchair, I was working on a world of new challenges that I had never experienced before.

I’m not the only one. Jacqueline Wentworth, an occupational therapist for cerebral palsy who has lived in New York City for many years, not only afflicts herself, but also witnesses similar hardships among her patients living in New York City. I am. “The very difficult thing about New York is that it’s designed to be a walking city,” she says. Wentworth is walkable, but has problems with her excessive walking. “Winter is especially difficult, especially because the cold affects spasticity, makes it difficult to walk, and snow falls in the corners of every block … it was a real nightmare for me.” According to the recent New York Times. analysisThe 550,000 New Yorkers who live in the city are difficult to walk, and two-thirds live far away from accessible subway stations. In addition, only 25% of New York’s subway stations are accessible, the lowest of any major transportation system. worldAnd even accessible stations with elevators have been found to fail an average of 53 times. Year..Public buses are more accessible, but require much longer travel time More than the subway, and other options like accessible ride-sharing services and taxis are more expensive.

But New York City isn’t the only one facing mobility issues. Captions and subtitles are not always available in New York for the hearing impaired. Born as a hearing-impaired person, Emily Aronica enjoys going to live shows and watching movies in the theater, she says. It doesn’t work. Transportation also proved difficult for her. In particular, “There was an unexpected announcement, but no automatic or manual subtitles were created for me to understand.” In addition, because of the pandemic, Aronica cannot read a person’s lips while wearing a mask.

Housing is another major concern for people with disabilities living in New York City. NYC is known for having expensive rental apartments in limited space.According to recently report According to RENT Café, Manhattan boasts the highest average rent in the United States ($ 4,210 / month), three times the national average ($ 1,463 / month). In Manhattan TypicalStudio apartments have an area of ​​550 square feet, while an average one-bedroom apartment has an area of ​​750 square feet. Limited living space often leads to doorways and bathrooms in small apartments that are not sized for wheelchairs and pedestrians. This means that residents in need of these types of assistance must be able to afford additional space (ie, more expensive) apartments. In addition, people with disabilities should consider that their homes are close to public transport, keeping in mind that there are few subway stations accessible.

Unfortunately, New York City companies aren’t very good at providing accessibility accommodation, despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was enacted over 30 years ago. This is because the law allows for flexibility. Title II ADA states that the building “does not need to take any action that would result in a fundamental change in the nature of the service, program, or activity in question, or would result in excessive financial and administrative burden.” Although not explicitly stated in the ADA, many businesses and city governments interpret Title II as the “Grandfather Clause” to avoid costly changes and buildings.

But several other big cities, including Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, are moving forward to accommodate people with disabilities. Wheelchair user Andy Arias, a government adviser in Washington, DC and formerly involved in ADA compliance in California, said LA accessibility is far more advanced than experienced on the East Coast. I am. “I didn’t have to call to see if I could access the location in Los Angeles, but is it in New York or DC? Every day!” Arias recalls. “subway [in L.A.] Fully accessible. We work with supporters, groups and cities to make sure the subway is flat and there are elevators wherever the subway goes. Even the gates are open for us. If you are in a wheelchair, wave your hand to open the door. It’s fully accessible, “he continues. “In San Francisco, there’s a big button on the floor that you can push in a wheelchair. That’s very different. If New York was, I’d probably live in New York now.”

Other major cities like Philadelphia can also serve as models for improvement. The city offers subsidies available to businesses to cover up to 50% of the cost of accessibility refurbishment. “If the owner doesn’t have the money to be fully accessible, of course you will have to apply for the money, but Philadelphia will subsidize accessibility costs and help you become accessible. Arias says. “If someone can’t afford it, they put in a tip. People are taxed on it, but it’s fair because you make it accessible for the city as well as the individual. I don’t know why there are no such programs in every city. “These are business owners. 26% Of the population that can help them grow their business and increase their income. “I think disability needs to be seen as part of our culture … in fact, in 10, 15, or 20 years everyone will be where we are,” Arias continues. “—People are afraid to see the reality that obstacles happen to all of us.” Arias also lists the places where businesses land in terms of setting accommodation hierarchies and providing accommodation. It is recommended to create. If you have a website like Zagat’s Accessibility Guide that says “This location is Tier 1 or Tier 2 accessible or fully accessible,” that’s also a solution. To move forward. “

Obviously, the ADA Act isn’t enough to require businesses to make major changes overnight, but as shown by San Francisco, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, etc., New York to deal with people with disabilities. There are small changes that can be made in major cities such as. Arias believes that the fairness of the disabled community is essential for cities that prioritize accessibility. “People need to consider us equal before it actually changes,” says Arias. “If your home is accessible but you can’t go anywhere by public transport, think about it. What’s good about it? And public transport accessible, but a $ 3,000 location If you have to live in, how good is the place you live in? That’s not good. Your community isn’t perfect. “

About the author: Cheyenne Leonard Accessibility of Loreen Arbus is a basic programThe first fellowship established to train women with disabilities as professional journalists and to be able to write, investigate and report on the most important issues affecting the disabled community.

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Written by Fem Society

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