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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Attn: Editor of the New York Post, re: Americans with Disabilities Acteditoral

On April 21, the New York Post published an editorial on the Americans with Disabilities Act editorial that, well, really surprised me.


First, A Story

The first Christmas after my mother died, when I was 20 years old, my father, my sister and a family friend went to New York for Christmas to avoid being around the family home and the memories. We were determined to make it a good trip. We were there from the 26th to Jan 1st. We stayed in a nice hotel and ate nice food. We did all the touristy things. We saw shows. We took *plenty* of cabs.

All of this was pre-stroke, so I didn't have trouble getting in and out of cabs. But if we'd had to make this trip with me even in my folding wheelchair, I wonder if the trip would have been as good as it was. Given what I know now about taxis in New York, I'd bet it would have been a lot more stressful - perhaps stressful enough to make us consider going to another city.  And it would have been a shame for New York's economy if we'd decided to go somewhere else that week.

The New York Post on the Americans with Disabilities Act: "...the misery the law inflicts on everyone else seems far more than that of those it helps."


Let me be sure I understand this, Editor. The Americans with Disabilities Act is making non-disabled people in New York City miserable because:

  • Unscrupulous lawyers are encouraging people to file frivolous lawsuits based on the Americans With Disabilities Act.

  • The cost of making facilities accessible (like pools and subway stations) is straining the city's budgets.

  • Requiring more accessible taxi cabs or a plan to increase access to existing cabs for people with disabilities is unacceptable Americans with Disabilities Act overreach.

Editor, is your beef not more with lawyers and contractors than  with the Americans with Disabilities Act and those trying to enforce it?

And you need to hear another story.

Hypothetical, But It Could Happen

Imagine you, Editor, as a resident of New York, used a motorized wheelchair. Imagine you got a call that your child, at a friend's birthday party, had been hit by a car chasing a ball into the street and was in critical condition at a hospital across town.

The dial-a-cab service that provides accessible cabs can get you a cab in an hour. But by the time you've mapped a route through the accessible stations, it's going to take over an hour for you to get there anyway. Your child might not be alive by then.

Is this fair? Or just?

Universal Design Isn't Disabling

Editor, a physically accessible city is one that allows people with disabilities to work, volunteer, access needed services and spend money (and we know that cities love that!)

It's one that allows people who have temporary disabilities (from casts and crutches to arthritis flare-ups) to get around more easily.

Heck, it allows parents with strollers to get around *much* more easily.

Please remember, Editor, how easily you could acquire a disability. No one likes to think about that, but it's true. What would you be saying about this then?


  1. Hi Sarah,  I'm still working on my mammoth assignment about the accessible taxi debate (at around 3500 words so far) --- I only wish I had the freedom to editorialize freely on the subject instead of having to be analytical, dispassionate and removed.  I think the DOJ are going to kick this one out of the park if the lawsuit doesn't prevail through the appeals process.

  2. [...] From the Girl With the Cane: Attn: Editor of the New York Post, re: Americans with Disabilities Act editoral. [...]

  3. There's a lot to it, isn't there? Kudos on tackling it and managing to stay objective. I find the whole business very frustrating (obviously). I don't know if you look at other cities besides New York, but in Washington DC the percentage of taxis that are accessible is even lower - there will be many other "New York"-type situations to tackle once the situation is resolved there to advocacy groups' satisfaction.