New York City’s Courts Come Under Fire for Lack of Accessibility
The New York City Council recently held a hearing focused primarily on the issue of accessibility in the courts across the city, or perhaps more accurately, the lack of accessibility in courts.
Recent studies from the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities reveal disabled workers make up approximately 11 percent of the population in the city, and that more than 99,000 use wheelchairs. Despite these staggering numbers, many courthouses across the city do not meet ADA compliance standards for accessibility. This is troublesome because courthouses are public accommodations and therefore must be made fully and equally accessible to any person who has a disability.
Many critics say the lack of accessibility at courtrooms for people in the city could lead to other even more troublesome problems within the justice system. If people are unable to get into courtroom facilities, would they then, for example, be less likely to receive fair treatment and consideration in their legal proceedings?
Investigation leads to worrying findings
The New York Lawyers for the Public Interest conducted an investigation into 10 of the city’s 30 courthouses in 2015 and discovered some significant problems in all of them. Eight of those 10 had either inaccurate signage or signage that was not placed in areas that were compliant with ADA standards to indicate handicap accessible facilities or entrances. Six courthouses had separate entrances entirely for people with disabilities, and at least five of those still had impediments that would make it difficult for people in wheelchairs to get in. All of the courtrooms across those courthouses had access barriers to spectator seating, entrances, and jury and witness boxes.
Among the other findings in the investigation were overly heavy or locked bathroom doors, inaccessible stalls, and faucets, and staff that was ill-equipped to help people with disabilities get access to facilities. Other public service offers were entirely inaccessible, such as help centers, victim support offices and clerks’ offices.
Again, public institutions are expected to meet certain standards of accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The fact is, however, that there are still many public entities across the nation that don’t, even ones as large and important as the New York City court system.
Part of complying with the ADA is having properly mounted ADA signage. For more information on purchasing wholesale signage, contact us today at Erie Custom Signs.