Disabled fault city’s ADA effort
Despite a recent effort by city officials to improve access for handicapped people, advocates for the disabled say the city has failed miserably when it comes to compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Kathy Podgers and Marilyn Wellons blasted the City Council on Monday night, calling the city’s treatment of the issue “appalling” and the overall situation “institutionalized discrimination” against the handicapped.
Access to city buildings in Cambridge is difficult at best, including the senior center across from City Hall, which has a handicapped entrance in the back of the building that doesn’t work.
Public bathrooms are scarce. Even city curbs are hostile to the handicapped.
Some of them don’t have curb ramps at crosswalks, so a person on crutches would need to bring, say, a parachute.
A person in a wheelchair would have to do a wheelie.
Podgers has been harping on these issues, running around the city — figuratively — and taking pictures of everything she sees that is wrong, from blocked handicapped parking spaces to roads designed for able-bodied college kids.
Podgers speaks out on issues such as the construction of a public fountain built too low for disabled people who are not in wheelchairs to enjoy.
She has a tendency to rant, but that doesn’t mean she is wrong, friends and followers say.
“She has really opened people’s eyes,” Wellons said.
One can also say that the city has been willing to fix identified problems. Mayor Michael Sullivan said Monday that city officials will walk along the route of any disabled person whose access is being blocked, assess and fix the situation.
That is not good enough, Wellons said.
“They want people to complain and then they’ll fix it,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to complain. It should already be in compliance.”
Podgers and Wellons were pleased that the City Council and local officials finally got around to producing a self-evaluation report on the city’s compliance with ADA. The council accepted that report Monday.
The report, drafted by Michael Muehe, of the Commission for Persons with Disabilities and the Department of Public Works, said they would fix some 109 defective curb ramps — out of the city’s 3,940 — starting with the worst ones, which city officials concede are a “difficulty for persons with disabilities.”