12 Days of Disability Rights: The right to accessibility and transportation

This is part of our ‘12 Days of Disability Rights‘ series, a dozen challenges that DRO has stepped up to fight on behalf of our community and will continue pushing forward with your help.

When people hear ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’, or ADA, the first thing they think of is curb ramps – the most basic access to the basic act of crossing the street. When the ADA was passed in 1990, it said that all public entities like local governments must follow guidelines for construction. Despite that, for the last 23 years the Oregon Department of Transportation systemically failed to create or upgrade curb ramps and pedestrian signals on dangerous, high-speed state highways.

This year, DRO brought a lawsuit on behalf of the Association of Oregon Councils for Independent Living (AOCIL) and 8 individuals from around Oregon. One plaintiff couldn’t cross the state highway across from her home to reach the post office and grocery story. Another couldn’t hear audible signals on TV Highway, a major highway near housing for people who are quadriplegic. Other plaintiffs couldn’t reach signal buttons and would have to wait for other pedestrians to show up and press the button.

The case was settled and under the agreement, ODOT will inspect all highways, bring them into compliance over the next 15 years, hire an accessibility consultant, and best of all, create a public process to request fixing curb ramps and audible signals.

This is just one example of the work DRO does to make sure that Oregonians have equal access to their communities.  Oregon Walks, a pedestrian advocacy group, awarded DRO a Weston Award this year in recognition of our ongoing advocacy for safer and more inclusive paths of travel.

Going forward, we will continue to advocate for cities and the state to honor disability laws and make communities safe for everyone.

To celebrate this win for basic access over the next 15 years, please consider a tax-deductible donation of $15 or $150 today.

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Check our 12 Days of Disability Rights series every day in December for updates.

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