Disability advocates have pushed Baltimore officials to improve the conditions of their sidewalks for a while. Since city hasn’t been responsive, the people are now suing.
Both Lafferty and Mike Bullis, the executive director of the IMAGE Center of Maryland—an organization dedicated to helping those with disabilities live independently—say that they’ve reached out to the city to try to work with them, but that the city has been unwilling to come to the table.
Lafferty says that the plaintiffs aren’t asking for monetary damages beyond the attorney fees and costs associated with going ahead with the lawsuit. What they really want is change. Bullis is hopeful that changes can come without having to go through the often long and drawn-out legal process.
Although it’s sad that the situation has come to this point, it’s inspiring to see people going to bat to make changes happen. Think of all of the people who have to live without accessible infrastructure and without any political power to improve it. Just recently, I spotted a person on a mobility scooter who was forced to ride it in the road due to a blocked-off sidewalk. It isn’t just people with disabilities affected by accessibility problems–it’s everyone.
I hope that Baltimore succeeds in fixing its sidewalks, and then it may be a model for advocates in other cities and towns. But we’ll have to see what happens.