Judge rules New York City in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Federal judge rules NYC in violation of American Disabilities Act
A judge ruled that the "vast majority" of traffic signals are inaccessible to the blind.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A federal judge ruled Tuesday that New York City is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because the "vast majority" of traffic signals are inaccessible to the blind.

"Most significantly, the Court finds, on the undisputed facts, that the near-total absence at the City's signalized intersections of crossing information accessible to blind and low vision pedestrians denies such persons meaningful access to these intersections," the decision said.

There are roughly 120,000 pedestrian control signals at about 13,200 of the city's 45,000 intersections. All but 443 (roughly 96.6%) communicate crossing information exclusively in a visual format with an image of a mid-stride white stick figure indicating "walk," and an upraised orange hand indicating "don't walk." These visual signals are inaccessible to the blind.

The city "has long failed to provide non-visual crossing information at the vast majority of its signalized intersections, i.e., those which provide visual crossing information to sighted pedestrians," the plaintiffs, led by the American Council of the Blind alleged.

There are about 205,000 blind or low vision people living in New York City, including Christina Curry who said in a lawsuit she "risks being hit by vehicles, fears for her life and is often grabbed by well-meaning pedestrians and uses circuitous, sometimes, costly alternatives to walking to avoid such incidents - all because she cannot use the visual traffic signals that are available to sighted pedestrians."

The court will now work with the city and the plaintiffs to discuss a remedy.

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