We Can’t Afford to *Not* Make Our Cities More Accessible for People With Disabilities

Steve Wright, StrongTowns.org, July 25, 2023

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 33 on July 26. For a third of a century, this landmark civil rights legislation has made it possible for people with disabilities to access public spaces and participate in their communities, in ways they couldn’t in the past. This has had a marked effect on our built environment and the way cities operate—in ways that benefit both people with disabilities and the general public, as a whole.

For instance, curb ramps where sidewalks connect to crosswalks are a major benefit of the ADA. Curb ramps are not just for wheelchair users, as they make mobility safer for elderly people and families pushing strollers. Curb ramps are good for the economy, as well, because they make for easy wheeled delivery of the millions of products delivered via e-commerce daily.

Likewise, buses that have ramps, lifts, or boarding platforms for ease of access are not just for those who use assistive mobility devices, but they also make boarding easier for small children, senior citizens, and urban dwellers schlepping home groceries and goods because they live car-free.

Sadly, the landmark civil rights legislation that makes these things possible—and is a game changer for more than 80 million people with disabilities in the U.S. and their families—could be watered down or all but dismantled.

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