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Report: Physically Handicapped Don’t Have Equal Access to City’s Courthouses

03.24.15 Prachi Gupta

Physically disabled detainees have a hard time accessing and moving around the city’s courthouses and holding pens due to inadequate or poorly marked infrastructure, according a new report by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

The report, released to the AP, looks at 10 courthouses and holding pens across the city and found problems regarding elevator access, poorly or incorrectly marked handicapped entrances, incorrect labeling for handicapped accessible bathroom stalls, and lack of handicap-accessible areas in courtrooms. This leads to inequality, says the report’s co-author Navin Pant:

“One thing we found was that the only way for a person who has a mobility impairment to access a courthouse is through a makeshift arrangement that negatively draws attention to his or her disability,” said Navin Pant, a staff attorney and a co-author of the 20-page report which was provided to The Associated Press ahead of its release on Tuesday.

“The injustices are found in all different ways and they really add up to a denial of equal access,” he said.

According to the AP, City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) called the report a “first-of-its-kind comprehensive look at courthouse accessibility” and wants the city to perform an “annual accessibility audit” on courthouses. He told the AP, “I’m not sure there’s a culture of access in the courthouses where very simple signage could make it much easier for disabled people to navigate the courthouses.”

(Photo: Wally Gobetz)