Lawsuits Filed Against City, Cap 10K for ADA Violations
Parking spaces and annual race inaccessible to people in wheelchairs
Last week, to correspond with the 22nd anniversary of the signing into law of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Texas Civil Rights Project filed 33 lawsuits across the state, proving that after more than two decades, there remains no shortage of places and activities inaccessible to the disabled community. The ADA is designed to allow Americans with disabilities to "participate fully in the social and economic life of the community," says TCRP attorney Joe Berra, but it seems some businesses, and the city of Austin, are falling short of that goal.
Among the lawsuits filed last week was one against Cox Texas Newspapers LP, the parent company of the Austin American-Statesman. In it, Robert Menard alleges that he was effectively excluded from participation in the annual Capital 10,000 race because he requires the use of a wheelchair. And in a suit against the city of Austin, resident Doris Standlee and Austin musician Melissa Bryan charge that handicap-accessible parking in the center city is woefully inadequate. Indeed, although the city created nearly 200 parking spots along South Congress Avenue as part of the back-in angle parking plan, not a single one of those is handicap-accessible; out of 556 parking spots Downtown, there are just 11 accessible spots, according to the lawsuit. Eddie Burns, the Statesman's vice president, chief financial officer, and business manager, said last week that the paper had not been served with Menard's suit and "so there's no comment at this time." A statement from the city's legal department made the same point, but noted that the city is "continuously working to ensure Austin is a liveable city for all of our residents." For more on the lawsuits see, "Cap 10K Not So Accessible," Newsdesk blog, July 27.