By Cuquis Robledo

June 13, 2016

Picture3These past few weeks have been pretty exciting for me. Last week, I got a chance to revisit one of the cases I worked on last summer. This case, known as the “Crappy Curb Case,” is supposed to get the City of Seattle to fix their curb cuts (also known as curb ramps) on the sidewalks. The reason this is so important is that curb cuts are supposed to help people with disabilities get to in from public places safely, as well as help them cross the street. You would think that Seattle would be a city known for their accessibility and ADA accommodations. Unfortunately, they aren’t.

Last and this summer, I have encountered really bad curb cuts, and sometimes lack of curb cuts. What makes it an issue is that having inaccessible curb cuts or lack of them, it makes it difficult for people with disabilities to going from Point A to Point B. If there is a missing curb cut, it takes extra time to find an accessible path. Or, if a curb cut is not within the painted lines of the cross walk, people with disabilities are forced into oncoming traffic, which puts them into danger of oncoming traffic and getting hit. For instance, on my way to work, I have to go to the Westlake Tunnel Station on 5th Ave and Olive. I just have to go up 5 blocks until I hit 5th Ave, and then cross over on to Olive to the station. However, at 3rd and Stuart, there is a missing curb cut in the East direction, which means I have to cross into traffic where cars may be turning left just to access the other curb cut and to get back on the sidewalk.

Picture1This case specifically looks at programmatic access, which is how well the city has kept up with creating curb cuts or fixing them whenever there is new construction in the area. Essentially, Disability Rights Washington wants to promote, “the right of way” for people with disabilities. What I did last week with one of the staff attorneys was we went to Seattle City Hall and looked at microfilms of letters people wrote to the city regarding curb cuts from 1977, which was when the Rehabilitation Act was passed that specified the need to implement curb cuts if new construction occurs, as well as Engineering Records from 1977 – 1989. I was in charge of looking at the records while my colleague looked at the microfilms. There is one image I took in a 1979 record that shows a sketch on what an “appropriate” street corner should look like. However, you should note that in the diagram, the curb cut is not in alignment with the crosswalk, which is absolutely not accessible.

Picture2Another exciting thing that happened this week was I finally got the chance to start editing an advocacy video. Before when I made videos, I would send them to the organization to help edit. But now, I can finally start applying some new editing skills into making videos of my own. I am currently editing a video about “Crappy Sidewalks” in Jackson, Mississippi. The raw footage was already recorded by my supervisor and Creative Director, Jordan, but now I have the chance to learn how the whole editing process works. What I am learning from this video here is that curb cuts and sidewalks are two issues that are very much related. Without good curb cuts, no one can get into the sidewalks. And in Jackson, there are sometimes non-existing sidewalks on busy streets when there should be. Already, there have been approximately 2-3 deaths of people with disabilities in Jackson due to lack of safety regarding sidewalk compliance. Let’s hope that this video, just like the curb cut video I did last year, will push the City of Jackson to fix their poorly maintained, or lack of, sidewalks and get people around the country who have this similar issue to push their city to be compliant with the ADA.

 

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