Most Oregonians would agree that grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and libraries should not be out of reach to someone because they use a wheelchair or experience low-vision. Yet, 30 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, we know how far we as a state have to go.
A December 2017 statewide survey from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) showed that 97% of curb ramps on state roads and highways across Oregon violate ADA standards. The data also revealed that Coos County, like several other rural counties across the state, did not have a single, fully compliant and accessible ramp. Curb ramps are the way people with disabilities can safely access sidewalks so that all pedestrians can travel in their community safely. This data told us that people with mobility disabilities are not able to safely get on or off nearly all sidewalks managed by ODOT. This is especially scary considering these sidewalks are near busy state roads or highways.
Efforts to fix missing or unsafe curb ramps began four years ago when eight individuals with mobility and visual disabilities, the Association for Oregon Centers for Independent Living, and Disability Rights Oregon, filed a lawsuit and secured the largest commitment to accessible transportation in state history. This settlement recognized that every Oregonian should have safe ways to move about their community.
The curb ramp upgrades underway in Coos Bay that are a result of this settlement agreement.
If you know of a missing or inaccessible curb ramp, you can report problems to ODOT using their “ADA Accessibility Requests” complaint form (https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/About/Pages/ADA-Issue-Request-Form.aspx).
You can use the “Ask ODOT” form (http://highway.odot.state.or.us/cf/comments/comments.cfm) for complaints not covered by the settlement agreement, but within ODOT’s control—such as railroad crossing without barriers or sidewalk obstacles that make it impossible for you to reach the curb ramp or use the signal.
Deputy Legal Director, Disability Rights Oregon