97 percent of sidewalk ramps along state highways violate ADA, survey finds

(The following article has been excerpted from the Daily Courier, February 16, 2018, which was reprinted from The Oregonian; author Elliot Njus) The vast majority of sidewalk ramps along Oregon highways violate standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, a survey found. The Oregon Department of Transportation conducted the audit as part of a settlement with Disability Rights Oregon, which sued the state last year over inadequate curb ramps and crossings. The survey found 97 percent of 26,000 curb ramps inspected weren’t ADA compliant, and 10 Oregon counties didn’t have a single compliant ramp. Tom Stenson, an attorney with Disability Rights Oregon, said the survey shows the lack of attention to ADA-compliant curb ramps is an ongoing problem at the transportation department, even with construction projects that were underway after the lawsuit was filed. Transportation department officials defended their efforts. The agency hired an accessibility consultant to review its practices, said Lisa Strader, the agency’s ADA program manager. She also said that many of the curb ramps rated as non-compliant are still “functional, accessible and being used as intended.” The state transportation department, under the settlement, agreed to put $23 million toward upgrading curb ramps in 2017 and 2018, and upgrade all of the inadequate ramps by the end of 2032. The department also agreed to audit buttons used to activate crossing signals, many of which disability rights advocates say can’t be used by people with disabilities because they can’t be reached safely from a wheelchair.