Seattle sued over inaccessible curbs

person in a scooter stuck at a curb with no curb cut
Seattle sued over inaccessible curbs

Seattle Attorney Conrad Reynoldson uses a power wheelchair to navigate his hometown’s busy streets.

Each day, he encounters numerous inaccessible curbs. Some contain broken or dangerously steep ramps. Others contain no curb cut at all.

Many of the ramps force him to enter the street outside the painted lines of the crosswalk, into oncoming traffic.

“You put your life at risk everytime you cross the street,” Reynoldson told KOMO 4 News.

As a result, he is often forced to not attend activities he enjoys, such as sporting events or social engagements. The decision as to where to locate his new law firm depends largely on the quality of that neighborhood’s pedestrian right-of-ways.

On October 8, 2015, Disability Rights Washington filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of Reynoldson and two other plaintiffs, and all other similarly situated people, alleging the City of Seattle failed to install and maintain accessible curbs consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and state laws. Attorneys from the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho are co-counsel in the lawsuit.

According to the complaint [PDF], filed in the U.S District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle is home to thousands of inaccessible curbs.

Federal and state discrimination laws require public entities, such as the City of Seattle, to make curbs accessible whenever it constructs new curbs, or alters existing ones. The City must also perform a Self Evaluation of its curbs, and create a Transition Plan to come into compliance.

Although the ADA was passed in 1990, Seattle did not survey its curbs until 2008. There is no Transition Plan, despite the efforts of advocates such as DRW, which wrote a letter to the city in January 2014 calling on the city to create one.

“We’re not asking the city to fix the thousands of violations today, or even tomorrow, or even next week,” DRW Staff Attorney Emily Cooper told Q13 Fox News. “All we are asking in this lawsuit is for them to come up with a plan.”

As part of the campaign, DRW is encouraging the public to post photos and videos of inaccessible curbs to social media, using the hashtag #CrappyCurb.

DRW also launched an original video, below, titled “Show us your #CrappyCurb,” highlighting the challenges faced by one woman navigating the curbs of downtown Seattle in her power scooter.



A new video shares some of the photos of inaccessible curbs in cities across the United States.

Disability Rights Washington, publisher of Rooted in Rights, is the designated protection and advocacy agency for Washington, and is a member of the National Disability Rights Network.

2 responses to “Seattle sued over inaccessible curbs

  1. How about a lawsuit addressing crosswalk activation buttons that do nothing, and timers that dont allow enough time for a physically disabled person to cross?

    There needs to be at least some signals that give preference to pedestrians instead of cars. When a disabled person presses and holds the button it should change the light almost immediately.

  2. The area around the Space needle is especially dangerous. I was trapped on a curb cut until a young man came along and helped me. He had to push my chair because the curb cut was improperly designed. I had to back track several times and Mercer St is especially dangerous.

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