Disability awareness, access includes clear sidewalks, trash bins

In the United States of America, one in five persons has a disability. People with disabilities are protected from harm and discrimination by two major sets of laws: The Civil Rights act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1973. These laws were passed in response to the continued unfair and unequal treatment of those perceived to be “different.”

The Constitution along with the Bill of Rights says, “All men are created equal.” Throughout our history we may have been and may be created as equals, but we are not and do not treat all people as equal.

Minneapolis is in the midst of a winter season that may break snowfall amount records. With this in mind, allow me to state the obvious: Most persons that do not have a disability that impairs their mobility can get from place to place, sometimes with a bit of aggravation. Many people with mobility impairments find it nearly impossible to get from place to place.

The Minneapolis snow removal ordinance states, “All sidewalks should be cleared from the edge of the grass on the lawn to the edge of the grass on the boulevard down to the concrete.”

Homeowners that live on a corner are responsible to clear the corner on both sides for persons to be able to cross going either way.

In years past, if the City plows went by and blocked in a corner, persons that were unable to clear the snow could call the public works department and request the City clear the snow. This year, that practice has come to a halt, no matter the people’s ability. Many sidewalks and corner crossings are blocked or so poorly cleared that travel is impossible.

I implore all homeowners/apartment dwellers, townhouse and condominium owners to please clear their walks properly. You will find it is much easier for you to travel as well as your neighbors and others.

We also have laws regarding access to waste cans and recycling containers. Many times waste cans and recycling containers are cleared only to have City plows block them in again.

Persons that have mobility impairments do not have to place their waste cans and recycling containers at the curb or edge of the alley. You can request from the City Solid Waste and Recycling department (612-673-6719) an evaluation and review of your ability to travel to and from the normal pickup location for your waste and recycling containers.

If you qualify, large square bright orange stickers are placed on your waste can. You can place this waste can in a convenient place for you. The sticker has to face the pickup location. The sticker notifies the waste and recycling personnel that you have the legal right to have your waste/recycling containers in a place other than the “normal location.” There must be a clear path of travel to and from the “normal pick up location for the workers to pick up and return your containers to the area you have selected. They are required to pick up and return the containers to the area selected.

If the containers are not returned, call the Solid Waste and Recycling department at the number above and report your concern about your containers not being returned to the selected area.

Kenneth Brown is a disability advocate and consultant. He welcomes reader responses at 612-518-2155 or ablenotdisabled@aol.com.