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Access Denied: Getting Around Upstate Cities without Equal Access
February 25, 2015
As a person with disabilities, Sandy Hanebrink struggles with parking and getting around in the Upstate South Carolina.
We followed her to downtown Anderson to see some of the struggles she experiences every day.
Hanebrink said she has become very familiar with federal law, titled the Americans with Disabilities Act, and South Carolina state law. We began behind the Anderson County Office building in downtown where Hanebrink showed us parking spots that did not have raised signs designating them reserved for people with disabilities.
These signs are required in parking lots where there are more than four spaces. They should be raised on poles so they are easy to spot. We saw sidewalks that are too steep and raised areas that need repair. There was a wheelchair access aisle too small for her to move through and an area where rolling from her parking space to a sidewalk might put her in front of parking-lot traffic.
The ITEAM asked City of Anderson officials if they knew about these issues and if they planned to fix them.
The Assistant City Manager replied that repairs can be complicated and costly.
“Infrastructure improvements in a built environment are complicated, and yet with streetscape projects and projects such as Carolina Wren Park, the City has been able to incorporate and improve accessibility. Elements such as elevations, storm drainage, underground electrical duct banks, etc. are essential components of infrastructure projects and part of what makes projects complicated. Also, knowing Anderson County tentative plans to demolish buildings in this area (the Bailes Building and Woolworth building), it makes sense to plan and schedule public infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, parking, storm drainage, etc. as part of a coordinated effort.”
We visited Carolina Wren Park and found that the promised improvements have yet to be completed. City officials say the renovations are almost complete.
The ITEAM went to the federal level to the National Network of ADA centers. We spoke with Rachel Stafford of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center in Colorado.
“There are very serious consequences these government entities can face,” she said. “A person with a disability can arrive at a location, simply pull through the parking lot, make a determination that “I can not even park or get out of my vehicle and access your facility” and that is the end of the assessment that they need to do to have teeth to be able to go file a lawsuit.”
You can file a complaint with the ADA by clicking here. You will need to fill out a form, email, fax or by phone at (202) 307-1197 There have also been other complaints filed against cities in South Carolina.
Here is a look at the SOUTH EAST region and how state laws measure up to ADA regulations.
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