Disability-Friendly Fact Sheet: Removal of Snow and Ice

Disability-Friendly Fact Sheet: Removal of Snow and Ice

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For Local Businesses

Sidewalks and curb cuts are lifelines for many people with disabilities and for senior population needing to get to work, the grocery store, or medical appointments. View this fact sheet produced by The Ability Center designed to educate about common problem areas and provide next steps for the winter months.

Prep Now for Winter Ahead
Maintenance of accessible features include the removal of snow from accessible parking spaces, parking space access aisles, the accessible route to the accessible entrance, and accessible entrances.

  • Do you have supplies needed in bulk?
  • Staff members dedicated to keep your pathways clear?
  • Do you educate employees about being a safe and inclusive establishment?

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For Local Governments

Winter in Ohio is unpredictable - you never know what the weather may bring, or when inclement weather is going to begin. In order to begin preparation for the snowy season, this blog post provides advice for local governments and Title II entities under the Americans with Disabilities Act on what is required when it comes to the removal of snow.

People with disabilities who don’t drive primarily rely on sidewalks and other pedestrian rights of way to access their community; therefore, it is important to keep these public thoroughfares clear. Wheelchairs and other mobility aids can become difficult to navigate on sidewalks, curb ramps, and streets after snow or ice have fallen. For those who have balance issues, or who use a cane or walker, patches of snow and/or ice can be potentially dangerous, as well.

Furthermore, when there is snow and ice on the ground, it can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for blind and visually impaired people to know ahead of time whether their usual routes will be open or not, and/or when a particularly dangerous situation could arise due to the ice and snow in their path.

The United States Department of Justice requires Title II entities (state and local governments and their instrumentalities) to maintain their accessible features.

Some problem areas that can prohibit access when blocked by snow include:

  • Public Parking Spaces (including but not limited to accessible parking spaces);
  • Curb cuts:
  • Crosswalks; and
  • Access routes and entrances to government buildings and buildings owned by Title II entities.

It is important to note that State and local governmental agencies must provide pedestrian access for persons with disabilities in compliance with ADA Title II. 42 U.S.C. §12131(1). Federal, State, and local governments must provide pedestrian access for persons with disabilities in compliance with Section 504 standards. 29 U.S.C. §794(a). A public agency must maintain its walkways in an accessible condition, with only isolated or temporary interruptions in accessibility. 28 CFR §35.133.

Part of this maintenance obligation includes reasonable snow removal efforts. (9-12-06) While there is not a specific time frame in which covered entities must act in order to remove snow, these snow removal efforts must be made as quickly as is reasonably possible. Also, it is important to note that removed snow must not be plowed into/on top of accessible features (such as those listed above) or components of an accessible route.

Thank you for doing your part in helping people with disabilities in the metro-Toledo area access their area and stay safe this winter!

Should you like more information on requirements of Title II entities under The Americans with Disabilities Act, or would like to be a part of The Ability Center’s Title II/ADA Coordinator Listserv, contact Katie Shelley, Disability Rights Advocate, at (419) 885-5733 x 120.