Friday letters to the Press

Published in the Asbury Park Press 08/14/98

Disabled need own lawn chairs

In his July 29 letter, the executive director of the PNC Bank Arts Center neglected to respond to the main concern expressed by the original writer: Are people with disabilities allowed to bring in their own, higher lawn chairs, instead of being forced to use the Arts Center's extremely low ones?

I walk with a cane, and it would be absolutely impossible and dangerous for me to sit down in, or attempt to get back up from, one of the low chairs. I would need to carry my own higher, firmer chair with arms.

The many references the executive director made to "special" areas for people with disabilities tends to translate to "segregated" in my mind. Are the seats for people with disabilities dispersed through the seating area, as they legally should be? Does each such seat have at least one companion seat next to it, as the Americans with Disabilities Act's Accessibility Standards require?

He describes the "gently sloping walkway" there, but the couple who complained referred to a steep walkway to the lawn seating. I wonder how "gentle" the slope actually is. Under the ADA, the running slope of an accessible path must not be greater than 1 to 20, or it is considered a ramp and must meet other criteria, perhaps railings.

The fact that the Department of Community Affairs and local building officials have signed off on construction does not, unfortunately, prove that the work complies with the ADA or the New Jersey barrier-free code.

The ADA celebrated its eighth birthday last month. By now, there is no excuse for improper access to public accommodations.

Carolyn Schwebel

Source: Asbury Park Press

Published: August 14, 1998