Accessibility

D.C. wheelchair users say they are forgotten in blizzard

Posted on February 1, 2016

Photo: NY National Guard - Capt Shaun Joyce
Photo: NY National Guard - Capt Shaun Joyce

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wheelchair users say that in the aftermath of the Jan. 23 blizzard, they were an afterthought in snow cleanup efforts, as curb cuts remains buried in snow, bus stops blocked, and alleys impassable while road crews prioritized clearing the roads, WAMU reported.

The responsibility under D.C. law to shovel curb cuts lies with the adjacent property owner, whether a homeowner, business, or public building. With large snow banks everywhere, an open curb usually is the only way a wheelchair user can get on or off the sidewalk. But even when curbs are shoveled after the initial snows, passing plows just cover them up again with mounds of snow, the report said.

“The curb cut issues don’t get addressed in the strategic cleanup that the city does,” said Ian Watlington, a disability rights worker and motorized wheelchair user. “All I am asking, and I think most people with disabilities are asking, is to be part of the strategic…conversation of, what are we going to do once that plow passes?,” according to WAMU.

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