We Can Do Better On Winter Weather Accessibility

By Andrew Pulrang: For More Info, Go Here…

“Our life comes to a total standstill in times like this — a total standstill.”

“When it’s all snow, I can’t even tell if I’m in a yard or the middle of a street … You never know if you will slide into the street and get hit by a car.”

“I pretty much avoid rolling anywhere in the winter … It is a weird kind of prison for three or four months out of the year.”

These are quotes from people with disabilities, describing what it’s like trying to navigate winter weather in Minnesota, from a February 2019 article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

There are few problems affecting disabled people’s safe mobility quite as remorseless as snow and ice. In some ways, it’s unavoidable, and in a sense, nobody’s fault. And yet, disabled people in winter weather climates are at least as trapped by weak municipal policies and unexamined values as they are by Mother Nature herself.

Snow and ice are problems for everyone living in winter climates. But they are exponentially worse for people with disabilities. This is especially so for disabled people who don’t drive, and have to rely on sidewalks and other pedestrian pathways to go to work, shop, or leave their homes for any reason.

Wheelchairs and mobility scooters have a harder time navigating sidewalks, curb ramps, and streets. People who are unsteady on their feet, or who use a cane or walker, find the smallest patches of ice or snow terrifying and genuinely dangerous. Even disabled people who drive must contend with accessible parking places clogged with plowed and piled up snow and ice on driveways when they get out of the car, and blocked ramps and entryways into buildings. And of course, blind and visually impaired people have their own struggles with winter weather. When the snow falls and ice sets in, it can be impossible for blind people to tell in advance whether their usual routes will be open or not, and where danger points might be.

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