The Disabled Rights Action Committee (“DRAC”) is asking Utahns to be mindful of individuals with disabilities and please keep sidewalks and curb cuts shoveled this winter. For those who rely on mobility devices to get around, a segment of snow-covered sidewalk can make the outside world inaccessible. A shoveled sidewalk can make the difference between independence and access to grocery stores versus relying on others to run errands and provide assistance.
DRAC board member Ron Faerber cares for his disabled wife and daughter and finds that life gets harder in the winter when it snows. “When it snows, my wife and daughter can’t leave the house. It’s tough. In Utah, we get a lot of snow sometimes, and most of my neighbors will shovel their sidewalks – but some don’t, and it creates a significant barrier for my family.”
Board member Lopeti Penima’ani uses a wheelchair and says that snow-covered sidewalks frequently cause him to miss appointments in the winter. “When I was living in downtown Salt Lake, I would sometimes travel quite a ways outside my home only to find that the curb cuts hadn’t been shoveled. I then had to go all the way back and around the block, only to find the same situation on the other side. I ended up getting trapped had no choice but to go home.”
Board vice chair Donna McCormick says that snowy sidewalks make it difficult for her to retrieve her mail. “In my last home, when snowplows would come around, they would either miss the curb cuts or leave all the snow piled there. There were times that I needed to take a snow shovel across the street, in my wheelchair, to dig out a path so that I could get my mail. Wheelchairs don’t have any traction, and this wasn’t easy.”
Board chair Psarah Johnson uses a wheelchair on some days, but not others. Whether she’s in a wheelchair or not, snow that hasn’t been shoveled presents a significant obstacle for her. “Leaving a snowy border of even a few inches high creates a barrier I cannot safely step over. It is not enough to ‘tamp the snow down’ to create a path. This creates icy walks and berms at curb cuts of two to three feet in height.”
Please remember that snow-covered sidewalks are a major barrier for many members of our community. Keep your sidewalks and nearby curb cuts shoveled and clear this winter season!