Proskauer and co-counsel Disability Rights Advocates (“DRA”), a nationwide nonprofit disability rights legal center, triumphed in a Chicago court this month, obtaining a ruling that will lead to historic accessibility improvements for the more than 65,000 people with vision difficulties who live in Chicago. The Court granted summary judgment on claims that the City of Chicago discriminated against blind and low vision pedestrians under federal disability rights laws by failing to install accessible pedestrian signals (APS) at signalized intersections. American Council of the Blind of Metropolitan Chicago, et al. v. City of Chicago, No. 1:19-cv-06322 (N.D. Ill.).
Earlier this week, Proskauer—along with Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a nationwide nonprofit disability rights legal center—filed a putative class action against the City of Chicago on behalf of the American Council of the Blind of Metropolitan Chicago (ACBMC) and three individual plaintiffs with vision-related disabilities. The suit challenges the City’s systemic failure to provide accessible crosswalk signals for people who have significant vision impairments—a failure which violates both Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act.
The complaint alleges that only 11 out of Chicago’s 2,670 intersections have accessible pedestrian signals (APS) which provide information to the visually-impaired. As a result, pedestrians with vision-related disabilities can safely cross fewer than half of one percent of Chicago’s intersections. In addition to placing visually-impaired Chicagoans in ongoing physical danger, the City’s failure to address these inadequacies represents continuing violations of federal law which requires, among other things, that public entities operate “each service, program, or activity” so that they are “readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.” 28 C.F.R. § 35.150.