Living in New York City has its own unique set of challenges. The concrete jungle isn’t always friendly, especially when you’re trying to cross the street with your kids and guide dog in tow. Now a New York City Judge is recognizing the challenges for the blind and visually impaired, ruling most crosswalks violate laws protecting people with disabilities. U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in Manhattan said the city has violated three laws protecting the disabled with its failure to equip most crosswalk signals to aid the blind or those with bad eyesight. The judge said it is yet to be decided what the ramifications of the ruling will be because the first phase of the court proceeding was to assess liability.
“Pedestrians with visual disabilities often encounter danger, inconvenience, and humiliation while attempting to use the City’s crosswalks,” he wrote.
Of the city’s 120,000 pedestrian control signals, nearly all of 13,200 signals at 45,000 intersections only communicate crossing information in a visual format, the judge said. Those signals are inaccessible to the blind leaving fewer than 5 percent of signals that aid blind people, he said.
In response, Laura Freyer, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office said, “The City is dedicated to making our streets more accessible to all New Yorkers with and without disabilities, including those who are blind or have low vision. We will continue to install Accessible Pedestrian Signals across the City and are consistently working to increase access for the blind and low vision community in all facets of life.”
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