Accessibility matters, whether that is the ability to ride the train, cross the street, afford rent, or have full access to the entirety of our city. People with disabilities (PWD) are all too often overlooked, and do not receive the services and accommodations they need to live comfortably. We must rethink how our city operates for the PWD that live here and the thousands of PWD that come to visit each year. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed 30 years ago, we still have a long way to go to make sure our city is accessible to everyone.
For people with mobility issues, a few stairs in front of a business can mean they have no way to access it. We must work with businesses throughout our city to improve accessibility by adding ramps instead of stairs wherever we can, and incentivize property owners to do so as quickly as possible.
Getting around our city poses many challenges to PWD. Our public transportation must be accessible and accommodating to all. Every train station in our city must install ramps or elevators that lead to the platform. There should be a bench at every bus stop, and as I have in the past, I will fight against any cuts to our bus service--one of the only fully accessible modes of transit for some PWD. I will also ensure that any new vehicles purchased by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) are selected with input from the PWD community.
Street and Pedestrian Safety
Our streets are not as safe for PWD as they need to be, and pose challenges that don’t exist for people not living with a disability. Intersections are particularly dangerous. The Department of Transportation (DOT) must install pedestrians ramps at every intersection in our city. We must also bring audible signals to our crosswalks for hard of hearing pedestrians, and install rumble strips for blind or low vision pedestrians.
Accessible and Affordable Housing
We need to increase opportunities for PWD to secure accessible and affordable housing. Currently, a PWD must make $50,000 or less annually to qualify for the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE). I propose raising the financial threshold to qualify for this assistance, stabilizing rents for more PWD. I will also work to create a city program that retrofits existing apartments for PWD at little to no cost.
Many online city resources do not accommodate all PWD. I would work to ensure that there are audible options for all city-published online content, including all agency websites. Right now, people that are deaf or hard of hearing cannot access our 311 system by speaking directly to an operator. I will push the city to provide video conference capability and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for PWD that need to file and follow up on 311 requests.