New York City ordered to install more than 9,000 accessible signals for visually impaired pedestrians

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A federal judge is forcing the city to install more audible signs for blind and visually impaired pedestrians in New York.

A federal judge is ordering the city to install more audible signals for blind and visually impaired pedestrians in New York City. This is a major step forward for the rights of people with disabilities, marginalized in inaccessible urban centers. Over the next ten years, New York will have to install more than 9,000 devices.

With blind and visually impaired individuals facing poor street access conditions, a federal judge ordered the city of New York, on Monday, December 27, 2021, to install more than 9,000 devices to facilitate their safe crossing of the road.

Historically, New York City's crosswalks have had visual-only directions for its pedestrians that are inaccessible for the visually impaired. The legal proceedings began after an organization representing visually impaired people sued the city. The judge had already ruled that the city had violated the protection of people with disabilities.

In the ruling published this week, it orders the appointment of a federal monitor in charge of overseeing the installation of audible signals at more than 13,000 intersections in the metropolis.

“We hope this decision is a wake-up call not just to New York City, but for every other transit agency in the country that's been ignoring the needs of people with vision disabilities,", Torie Atkinson, lawyer for the American Council of the Blind and two visually impaired New Yorkers who filed the suit, told the New York Times.

Reduced access to urban centers

This decision comes at a time when urban centers are grappling with shortcomings in this area, as many infrastructures remain inadequate for people with disabilities.

According to an APF France Handicap survey conducted in partnership with IFOP and published in January 2020, nine out of ten people experience accessibility difficulties when traveling in France, based on findings collected from 12,000 respondents. "Millions of people cannot easily and independently access public and private infrastructure because of their architectural design," notes APF France Handicap, pointing out the glaring delay of French cities, in the run-up to the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.

Louis Bolla

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