To Editor and Concerned Citizens,
I am very interested in the work being spearheaded by the Two River Times (TRT) to improve local pedestrian and driver safety. I wanted to attend tonight's large forum on these issues and give input. After all, who is more affected by these problems than older people who would be most vulnerable as slow walkers or people with disabilities.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked the TRT where specifically in Red Bank Catholic HS the forum would be held tonight, as the school did not appear at all accessible from the front.
Today at about 3:30 p.m. I had a message that TRT people had checked the RBC HS and relayed to me that they were told there is no wheelchair accessibility at the meeting site. There are many steps with no railings, an unusable freight elevator, and the school staff said that they are "grandfathered in"!
There is NO such thing as "grandfathering" under the 25-year-old ADA. A quick Google search using the words "ADA" and "grandfathered"makes that crystal clear. Buildings, even "historical" ones, must remove barriers if that is readily achievable,
starting with entrances.
Any disabled students will likely also be excluded from attending RBC due to its failure to accommodate them. As a school psychologist I find that both illegal and shameful.
Groups planning public meetings have a legal obligation to hold the meetings at accessible locations. This has not happened with the TRT forum.
So, tonight I am as much a victim of exclusion and discrimination as the people of color for whom I have constantly sought social justice.I suspect that most of the leaders and politicians who will be at tonight's meeting will not even notice!
Carolyn Schwebel, Director
Equalizers "Advocates for People with Disabilities"