The city of Bowling Green is gathering input from residents in an effort to bring the city more in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On Thursday, July 28th, Bowling Green officials held an ADA Transition Plan open house to receive one-on-one feedback from locals on ADA compliance among the city’s streets and sidewalks. The city has also set up an online survey for residents who were unable to attend the meeting.
Bowling Green has slowly adapted to the ADA by installing ADA-compliant ramps with each new road or sidewalk construction project. But city officials want to ensure that the city is accessible to all residents, first by updating sidewalks and streets, and later by updating city facilities such as parks and buildings, according to news reports.
Here are five of the most common ADA compliance issues that Bowling Green can address when formulating its ADA Transition Plan to make the city more accessible to individuals with disabilities:
Bowling Green’s most pressing concern, and the reason they hosted a public meeting, is to create more curb ramps. A lack of curb ramps is one of the top ADA-compliance issues in most cities and towns. For those who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids to get around, it can be nearly impossible to travel safely within a city if there are no curb ramps. These features should be on sidewalks and on both sides of center islands on streets that use islands as traffic calming measures.
Accessible Pedestrian Signals
Pedestrian signals should be updated to be accessible to those with visual impairments, some say. Accessible pedestrian signals should have audible traffic signals and cues to alert pedestrians when they are able to walk safely through an intersection. These integrated devices often include vibrotactile, or vibrating walk, indications as well, which provides accessibility to pedestrians who are deaf-blind.
A reportedly common accessibility issue involves parking. For public facilities, one out of every eight handicap parking spots must be van accessible, according to ADA guidelines. If a public building is only required to have one handicap parking spot, that spot must be van accessible, and it must have all of the signage and striping stipulated by the ADA. This is to provide a wider access aisle to accommodate wheelchair lifts. Accessible parking spaces for cars must also have an extra-wide access aisle to allow clearance by a person using a wheelchair.
Restroom accessibility is among the most common compliance issues for city governments and public facilities and is often seen in historically significant and “grandfathered” buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Accessible public restrooms require a certain standard of clear floor space and turning space, grab bars, and a maximum mounting height of 48 inches for restroom accessories like hand dryers and waste receptacles.
For those restrooms that are ADA-compliant, they may still have problematic signage. Restroom signs are required to be installed no more than 60 inches above the floor surface, on the wall adjacent to the latch side of the door. These signs must also have braille text. The purpose of these specifications is to allow people with visual impairment to be able to read the restroom sign without being situated dangerously in front of the door, which someone could open suddenly and cause potential injury.
A major goal of the Americans with Disabilities Act is to make certain that all individuals with disabilities can take part in their civic duties through effective communication. In order to ensure all its citizens are able to take part in public meetings and events, Bowling Green must provide a qualified sign language interpreter or an assistive listening device for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. For people who are visually impaired, information should be presented in Braille or there should be an audio recording of any printed materials.
By holding public meetings and gathering survey feedback from residents, Bowling Green is becoming one step closer to having a truly ADA-compliant city that allows its residents with disabilities to fully participate in civic life.
Have you or someone you love experienced discrimination because of a disability? Our Deaf and Disability Rights attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are committed to equality, justice, and accessibility, and will work with individuals with disabilities to fight against unfair and discriminatory practices, such as lack of structural accessibility. If you are ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.