WPAS continues to fight barriers to accessibility


WPAS staff attorneys often assist clients with issues related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title III of the ADA requires commercial buildings to be designed, constructed and altered to comply with accessibility standards of the ADA. Recently, WPAS staff attorney Sandy Macdonald used Title III to help a client defeat an architectural barrier. The elderly woman called WPAS and complained that she could not use her regular bank because she was not strong enough to open the door to the building. Macdonald challenged the bank and business owner's argument that there was adequate access to the bank's main lobby. Eventually the landlord agreed that the location and the tension in the doors could be adjusted to meet the ADA's accessibility requirements. Once the doors were adjusted, the woman had no problem opening them while in her wheelchair.

Another section of the ADA, Title II, makes it illegal for a public or government entity to deny a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in or benefit from its activities or services. Macdonald recently used this portion of the law to advocate on behalf of a client who had to maneuver between parked cars to reach the local bus. Macdonald negotiated with the city engineering department to create a no parking zone in front of the woman's apartment. With her crutches, she is now able to walk safely from her curb to the front door of the bus. Similarly, WPAS staff attorney Michael Smith used Title II to assist a client who uses a wheelchair and enjoys fishing both from a dock and from his own boat. The client sought to improve access at a city public park. Smith investigated the city's failure to develop and follow plans that provide adequate access. Although the city has taken some corrective action, further access needs to be developed. WPAS is continuing to investigate and negotiate with the city to improve access for this client and others who wish to use the parks.