A Call to Prioritize Accessibility this National Infrastructure Week

A Call to Prioritize Accessibility this National Infrastructure Week

For Immediate Release                 
05/14/2019

Contact:  David Card                
202.408.9514 x122
[email protected]

WASHINGTON – As we enter Infrastructure Week, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) wants to remind Congress, the Trump Administration and the public to prioritize accessibility when moving forward with new federal spending that would cover transportation, water, broadband, and energy grid infrastructure investments.

It is imperative that any spending on infrastructure across the United States adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was passed to ensure full integration for individuals with disabilities, and make accessible outdated infrastructure as well as ensure any new infrastructure be fully accessible for individuals with disabilities.

Infrastructure improvements need to be planned in an all-inclusive way with particular attention to accessibility issues around sidewalks, train stations, and schools. Currently, not all Amtrak stations are fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. In 2013, P&A agencies inspected 94 stations in 25 states and the District of Columbia, and found accessibility problems in 89 of the stations, including Union Station here in Washington, D.C.[1] This lack of accessibility prevents individuals with disabilities from traveling to and from work, across the country, or even to the next town. Any plan to update Amtrak stations must include a plan to address the accessibility concerns of individuals with disabilities.

Another example of inadequate accessibility in current infrastructure is sidewalks. Freezing temperatures, especially in northern states, can cause broken and cracked sidewalks that become inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. Additionally, older cities, with outdated infrastructure systems, lack even the basic necessity of right of way access to a sidewalk. These cities are in crucial need of updated infrastructure especially as it relates to accessibility issues.

Lastly, the majority of America’s schools are in need of infrastructure upgrades.  According to a 2014 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, “53 percent of public schools need to spend money on repairs, renovations, and modernizations to be in ‘good overall condition.’”[2]  While considering the infrastructure needs of schools as a whole, we, again, encourage you accessibility as a priority to updating schools.

We urge Congress and the Trump Administration to consider the accessibility needs of individuals with disabilities as you make plans for infrastructure improvements in the United States.

[1] “All Aboard (Except People with Disabilities).” National Disability Rights Network, Oct. 2013, dadsupport.ndrn.org/pub/NDRN_Amtrak_Report.pdf.

[2] “The NCES Fast Facts Tool Provides Quick Answers to Many Education Questions (National Center for Education Statistics).” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2014, nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=94.

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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.