Abysmal: Seymour’s Progress Towards ADA Compliance | Joseph Luciano

by Joseph A. Luciano, Founder, Disability Rights Action Group of CT

To date, Seymour’s post office remains inaccessible to elderly and persons with disabilities (PWDs) unable to climb its mountainous steps to the “public” lobby.

It has succeeded in evading ADA compliance and enforcement twice.  The U.S. Dept. of Justice claims lack of jurisdiction because this post office was built before ADA’s enactment in 1990.  Then the U.S. Access Board determined it also lacks jurisdiction because the steps were constructed in 1917 and have not been altered since the 1968 enactment of the U.S. ABA.   The postmaster refuses to re‑open the ramp at the rear where for years postal workers cheerfully provided services to anyone.

P5133239

A rally in May of 2015 at the Post Office in Seymour, Conn., shows the stairs, insurmountable to many, in front of the federal building.

USPS has notified only me that, to obtain service, I must telephone the facility’s “dedicated” number when I arrive at the foot of the steps.  [In practice, (203) 888-3830 is the regular phone number and not dedicated to serve PWDs.]

USPS has ignored my repeated requests that Seymour’s post office should publicize its rules applicable only to PWDs and that it should be required at least to provide signage visible to all customers unable to climb to the public lobby.

Every year since 2012, Seymour’s town hall has assured me that by each year’s end or next spring work would begin to replace broken impassable sidewalks and to construct crosswalks and curbcuts.  These promises remain unfilled.  While new curbcuts have been constructed downtown, two are inaccessible because of steps in front of them, and another is inaccessible because the sidewalk leading to it is impassable.  Also, curbcuts have been provided to access two brickwalks—but curbcuts are absent at the other ends enabling continued travel.  Thus, dead-ends exist—25 years after ADA 1990.

Again, I invite PAR readers to consider signing the petition to ensure architectural access at Seymour’s post office, all other public accommodations, and all state and local government buildings.

Go to http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/seymour-ct-post-office?source=s.fwd&r_by=3363627
Joseph A. Luciano, (203) 463-8323,  DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com.

Seymour CT Post Office Persists In Violating Federal Accessibility Laws

by Joseph A. Luciano, Founder, DRAG CT, ADA Education Project

I am inviting PAR readers to sign the on-line petition to ensure Architectural Access at the Seymour CT post office—and all other public accommodations, all state and local government buildings, facilities, parks, parking lots, building entrances, sidewalks, restrooms, aisles between restaurant tables, and service and cashier counters.

The petition is at this link: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/seymour-ct-post-office?source=s.fwd&r_by=3363627

Seymour’s post office refuses to comply with ADA 1990 and other federal laws to provide reasonable access and accommodation to elderly and disabled persons unable to climb the mountain of steps at its public entrance. It defiantly refuses to provide an access route to the ramp in the rear that elderly and disabled have been using for years. The postmaster shut down the ramp last year and now requires us to telephone for “appointments” to obtain services outdoors on the sidewalk at the public entrance. The location of “sidewalk service” is unreasonable because it is a longer trek—because of broken sidewalks and absent crosswalks and curbcuts. It’s also unreasonable because all elderly/disabled persons do not have or are not able to use cellphones. The USPS refuses to publish information in the media notifying persons of all abilities how to obtain service. Signage and a doorbell are absent at the entrance. What’s really egregious is that al fresco postal service out-doors on the sidewalk will not work in rain, summer heat waves, cold weather, and snow.

Joseph A. Luciano
33 DeForest Street A24
Seymour CT 06483
(203) 463-8323
DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com

A Doorbell Would Be a Nice Touch | Joe Luciano

by Joe Luciano, Founder, Disability Rights Action Group of CT

Seymour’s inaccessible post office continues to be unresponsive to its customers with disabilities unable to climb the mountainous steps to its public lobby.

Channel 8 News and the New Haven Register covered the May 13 rally to bring attention to the postmaster’s refusal to provide equal access to customers with disabilities. (The post office facility at 91 Main St. has a long steep staircase at its entrance with no ramp, lift, or other means for persons with limited mobility to get inside. For years, customers with disabilities used a service ramp at the rear of the building but the postmaster suddenly shut it down.)

The USPS valley supervisor established only one way for handicapped customers to obtain service: customers must telephone a “dedicated” number to request sidewalk service. This is unacceptable: there is no sign with instructions visible to arriving customers; the number is not publicized; this does not work for people without cell phones or unable to use one; the sidewalk area is hazardous; and the dedicated number is not dedicated; it’s the general number, often busy.

“The Postmaster is hiding behind the letter of the ADA, ignoring the fact that the USPS is required by Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act to make its services accessible to customers with disabilities,” said Marc Anthony Gallucci, Executive Director of the Center for Disability Rights.

Disability Rights Action Group  has sent multiple requests to local and federal USPS officials asking, in the very least, for a door bell and signage telling the handicapped how to obtain service. No USPS official has responded to DRAG’s requests, in keeping with their customer service attitude.

PAR readers interested in joining our next rally should email their contact information to DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com.

Two New ADA Advocacy Organizations Established

Joseph A. Luciano, Founder, DRAG Connecticut, ADA Education Project

When the U.S. Dept. of Justice and other ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) enforcement agencies are slow to act, property owners, municipalities, and places of public accommodation must be “dragged” by private individuals into ADA compliance. The general public is mostly unaware of the rights and responsibilities provided by ADA 1990. As a consequence, persons with disabilities encounter discrimination and architectural and mobility barriers nearly everywhere. Inexplicably, barriers are found at medical centers, doctors’ offices, post offices, malls, rest rooms, houses of worship, restaurants, and more.

DRAG Connecticut organized a protest rally at the Seymour post office on May 13. Elderly/disabled residents of down-town Seymour who were unable to climb the steps to the public lobby protested because the postmaster shut down the handicapped ramp at the rear and established a discriminatory policy requiring only elderly/disabled to telephone for service and wait on the sidewalk. The Center for Disability Rights supported this event by organizing transportation of CDR members to participate.  They also made the signs.

DRAG Connecticut wants the de facto handicapped ramp in the rear of the building re-opened—and an access route to it provided compliant with 25-year-old ADA mandates (de facto, because Seymour’s post office has been providing services on that ramp to people with disabilities for years. The ramp, therefore, acquired status as a handicapped ramp for disabled postal customers). Or, the USPS can lease an accessible storefront in downtown Seymour or lease space in an existing accessible downtown business.

To see coverage of the protest, view these links:

To raise public awareness of rights and responsibilities provided by the now 25-year-old ADA, the ADA Education Project is writing an “ADA education” curriculum to be launched as a website that Connecticut social studies teachers and the general public can freely use. All its lesson plans, activities, and resources will be online—therefore requiring no expenses for books and having little impact on school budgets. With public awareness of ADA, towns and cities can become Livable Communities, a prerequisite to enable Aging in Place. Connecticut’s population is increasingly aging. Aging in Place can save America billions.

For more information about DRAG Connecticut or the ADA Education Project, please contact Joseph A. Luciano at (203) 463-8323 or e-mail dragconnecticut@yahoo.com.

1 2