How Cities Are Becoming More Accessible

Credits: MOTT

June 13, 2017

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as well as commercial facilities—to comply with the ADA Standards.”
Simply put, it means that public spaces built after 1992 must be as easily accessible to those with disabilities, as those without. But for the older cities along the American East Coast, that’s not always helpful. Thankfully, colonial-era places like Washington, DC, Boston, and New York City have been hard at work for decades, aiming to get their world famous public spaces up to ADA compliance.
In New York City, that starts with how you get around. Many NYC Yellow Cabs are wheelchair accessible, and in Manhattan especially, you’ll rarely see more than a handful of taxis without one of them being accessible. But if you know you have a place to be at a certain time, you can book a ride online through the city’s Accessible Dispatch program.
And beyond that many MTA subway stations--especially those near top destinations in Manhattan like Times Square, Greenwich Village, Central Park, and Lincoln Center--boast ADA-compliant elevators down to the train platform. Plus, every bus in NYC’s fleet is wheelchair accessible, via front- or rear-door ramps!
All these modes of transportation would be of no good if they didn’t lead to accessible sights and activities, but thankfully, New York has those in droves. To name just a few must-see landmarks, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the United Nations, and Rockefeller Center are all accessible, as are many of the city’s theaters, museums, and cultural institutions.
Not to say New York City is perfect in terms of accessibility, but for years now it’s continued to work toward making all of its offerings available to everyone.
The same can be said of its New England-y neighbor to the north, Boston. All MBTA busses are wheelchair accessible, and it’s quite easy to rent an accessible car or secure an accessible cab to get around. And many of Boston’s most enticing options can accommodate nearly all travelers; everything from guided tours of Harvard’s beautiful Cambridge campus to catching a game at historic Fenway can be enjoyed by those with special mobility needs.
And our nation’s capital--where the ADA legislation was signed--affords plenty of great options for activities and getting around to travelers with disabilities. All Washington, DC Metrorail busses and trains are accessible, as are nearly all monuments and museums along the famed national mall.
As a country we have a lot of work to do, but things are certainly on the upswing for visitors to these and other major American cities. If a trip to the Northeast is on your docket and accessibility is a concern, feel free to reach out to us--we’d love to help you plan your stay and get the most out of it! Contact us for more details.