What’s New

Here you will find a running archive of news stories and cases about the ways in which land use law and disability issues arise throughout the United States and beyond:

The Washington Post Magazine – Accessible design is growing. But can it be beautiful? – Mar. 30, 2020 – There are many ways to support individuals with disabilities and give them independence and dignity in their home. Some architects focused on universal design embark on projects that look to the larger picture of wellness when designing various buildings.

Jaxenter – All you need to know about web accessibility and UX – Mar. 24, 2020 – Having standards of web accessibility results ultimately in a universal design that is user-friendly for everyone. Web designers and developers should aim for accessible design to make online content easily available and usable to everyone regardless of their limitations.

Buzzfeed News – The Coronavirus Response Shows How Crucial Accessibility Is – Mar. 13, 2020 – In an effort to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 spread, a growing list of companies are migrating to online platforms. However, there is frustration from some individuals in the disability community who have previously requested accommodations using online platforms but have been denied those requests for lack of feasibility. When the health crisis ends, what happens to the initiatives that are currently in place to stop the spread of the virus?

The Denver Post – Denver police officer blocks handicap spot at disability advocates’ HQ during emergency call – Mar. 8, 2020 – A Denver police officer, in a marked patrol vehicle, partially parked in a handicap spot blocking access to a van driven by the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition’s legal director at the Coalition’s headquarters.

NBC News – 30 years after Americans with Disabilities Act, college students with disabilities say law is not enough – Mar. 1, 2020 – Under the ADA, public and private colleges and universities have to provide equal access, however some schools do not go beyond mere ADA compliance and create an environment where students with disabilities feel welcome.

The Washington Post – How accessibility consultants are building a more inclusive video game industry behind the scenesFeb. 25, 2020 – Accessibility consultants have been trying to make a push in the gaming industry for accessibility both in the workspace and physical game itself. While the gaming industry overall is becoming more accepting of the disabled community, they are reluctant to implement accessible features. Developers in the gaming industry should incorporate conversations pertaining to users with disabilities. Really good accessibility is inclusive and benefits everyone.

Palo Alto Online – A daughter’s disability. A mother’s ingenuity. And the playground that’s launching a revolution – Feb. 14, 2020 – Before Olenka Villarreal started designing accessible playgrounds, she was informed by the Community Services Department Director that all of Palo Alto’s playgrounds could accommodate her daughter with a disability. The Department Director stated that all parks were compliant with the ADA. Since Villarreal could not find a manufacturer with a ready-made set of playgrounds designed so any individual using a wheelchair could interact with others who may not require such use, she began building her own.

NPR – Amtrak Asks 2 People Who Use Wheelchairs To Pay $25,000 For A RideJan. 17, 2020 – Travelers using wheelchairs sought to purchase one-way tickets on Amtrak normally priced at $16. However, when they were ready to purchase the tickets, they were informed that due to a new Amtrak policy which took effect in 2019, they would have to pay more $25,000 for the tickets. Amtrak’s policy stated that because it was expensive to take out extra seats in the car, Amtrak would no longer absorb the costs of the removal moving forward.

Duluth News Tribune – St. Louis County target disability compliance for sidewalksJan. 6, 2020 – The St. Louis County Board has prepared a plan to bring sidewalks, curb ramps, and pedestrian signals into full compliance with ADA. The county is at risk of losing federal highway dollars if a plan is not adopted. As it stands, 76% of sidewalks, 63% of curb ramps, and 56% of traffic control signals in the County are not compliant with the ADA.

Apartmentguide – Finding Apartments for Disabled Apartment Hunters

Mashable – How a deaf, bling Harvard graduate is influencing AppleMar. 22, 2018 – Haben Girma is a blind and deaf attorney who recently spoke at South by South West, a popular music and technology expo. This article focuses on the way she frames her message on promoting accessibility. For example, she wishes to show how planning for accessibility provides individuals & organizations long-run financial benefits.

Accessibility Programs in Various Cities

Crosscut – New signage could make Seattle more accessible for pedestrians with disabilities – Dec. 18, 2019 – Seattle residents who rely on transit and sidewalk navigation are confronted with many obstacles for the average pedestrians. These obstacles are even more challenging for individuals with disabilities to navigate. Seattle has created a new initiative, Seamless Seattle, to create signage that will make information more accessible to pedestrians with or without disabilities. 

Curbed San Francisco – Affordable homes for disabled residents might go up right next to SF City HallNov. 19, 2019 – An affordable housing proposal has been made to build homes specifically tagged for residents with a disability. The units will be for individuals making as little as 13% of the Area Median Income ($11,206). As of the time the story was released, the city classified AMI has $86,200. San Francisco has been having trouble obtaining developers to build more homes in this bracket.

Dorchester Reporter – $15.4m Harmon Apartments to help disabled live affordably on Dot AveAug. 10, 2017 – Affordable accessible housing units being built in Boston geared to helping individuals with disabilities.

The Seattle Times – Free trip planner helps pedestrians navigate maze of hills, curb cuts, constructionFeb. 20, 2017 – Sidewalk accessibility app developed by Washington State University that provides information on sidewalk elevations, declines, hills, construction, and curb cuts to plan accessible routes in Seattle. The app is geared for people who have mobility impairments and allows people to make a route based on changes in elevation rather than the time of the trip.

CityLab – How Apps Can Help People With Disabilities Navigate CitiesJune 29, 2016 – Current maps offered to persons with disabilities are problematic because they are static and do not receive frequent updates for changing conditions. The development of apps has filled in the gaps to help make planning routes more accessible. AXS Map, an app highlighted in the following article, works a lot like Yelp where users rate how accessible businesses are.

Stories from Overseas

The Guardian – What would a truly disabled-accessible city look like?Feb. 14, 2018 – Visually impaired in Melbourne now benefit from a project at the City’s Southern Cross train station that allows them to navigate the platform by sending audio cues to their smartphones by the app Blindsquare via Bluetooth that provides information such as directions and escalator outages. UN Convention on Rights of Disabilities has encouraged cities to become more accessible. Seattle is another city leading the in utilizing technology to make cities more accessible. Seattle has developed a map app that allows individuals with limited mobility to plan accessible routes. Also discusses steps Singapore has taken to promote accessibility, DCs accessible subway system, a housing project in Sonoma, CA, that supports autistic individuals, sport and conference complex in Korsor, Denmark, and travel in the historic town of Chester, England.

The Guardian – ‘I feel like a second-class citizen’: readers on navigating cities with a disabilitySep. 22, 2017 – A collection of personal stories of how people with disabilities feel navigating cities, including Dundee, Toronto, London, and Sheffield.

The Guardian – Roman holiday: how Chester became the most accessible city in EuropeSep. 20, 2017 – Chester, England, is regarded as Europe’s most accessible city. It has developed accessibility over time to all of the major attractions of the city (Roman Walls, shopping, transportation, bathrooms, zoo, etc.). It is accessible for wheelchair uses, as well as the blind. Chester generates a large portion of revenue from tourism because of its high level of accessibility. The zoo even offers recommendations to those on the autistic spectrum, offering guides and suggesting times when the zoo is quieter.

The Guardian – Access denied: wheelchair metro maps versus everyone else’sSep. 21, 2017 – Comparing the accessibility of the undergrounds of London, Paris, Barcelona, NYC, Tokyo, LA, and DC. However, the article only talks about aspects of accessibility concerning wheelchair users. No other impairment or means to alleviate the impairment in an underground is discussed.


Furbee v. Wilson, No. 19A-PL-1756, 2020 Ind. App. LEXIS 122 (Ct. App. Mar. 30, 2020) – After a tenant did not provide additional requested information beyond a doctor’s letter to a landlord who needed to make a determination as to whether to accommodate a tenant’s emotional support animal, the tenant decided to bring the emotional-support animal into the apartment and was fined and ultimately evicted. The tenant argued her reason for not responding to the landlord’s request was because the request went beyond what was permitted to be asked.

Ring v. Boca Ciega Yacht Club, Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53685 (M.D. Fla. March 27, 2020) – The Boca Ciega Yacht Club, a nonprofit corporation that leases a clubhouse and grounds from the City of Gulfport, was considered a private club (and thus exempt for the ADA), after a member asserted the club failed to make a reasonable accommodation for her service animal.

Hamer v. City of Trinidad, Civil Action No. 16-cv-02545-NYW, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS  29844 (D. Colo. Feb. 21, 2020) – The plaintiff, Mr. Hamer, alleged the City’s noncompliant sidewalks violated the ADA. The City argued that sidewalks are not services, programs, or activities, so the ADA doesn’t provide Mr. Hamer with a claim. However, the court determined that that statutory interpretation of services leads to the conclusion that sidewalks are services under the ADA. The City also argued that an undue financial burden would be caused because Mr. Hamer sought to have an immediate remedy for all City sidewalks to be fixed in an all-or-nothing claim. However the Court found that the city did not meet their burden of showing an undue burden.

Disabled in Action v. City of New York, No. 16-CV-08354 (VEC), 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19666 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 4, 2020) – In 2015, the NYPD adopted a public safety approach called neighborhood policing to help engage and connect the community with local police officers. Individuals would we welcome into the station to get to know local police officers. Plaintiffs claim that due to pervasive architectural barriers across NYPD’s 77 precinct stations, mobility impaired individuals are excluded from critical public-safety services and programs offered from stations.

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