Disabilities and Accessibility

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Disabilities and Accessibility

New York has come a long way in making life easier for people with disabilities. At most street corners, curb cuts allow wheelchairs to roll along unimpeded. Many restaurants, shops, and movie theaters with step-up entrances have wheelchair ramps. Though some New Yorkers may rush past those in need of assistance, you'll find plenty of people who are more than happy to help you get around.

NYC & Company's website has information on the accessibility of many landmarks and attractions in their free downloadable guide. The NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities is another great resource outlining accessibility throughout the city. If you need to rent a wheelchair or scooter while in New York, Scootaround will deliver it to your hotel (or wherever you're staying); reservations can be made up to a year in advance.

Local Resources

NYC & Company. New York, New York. www.nycgo.com/accessibility.

NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities . New York, New York. 311; www.nyc.gov/mopd.

Scootaround. New York, New York. 888/441–7575; locations.scootaround.com/nyc.

Lodging

Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the level of accessibility seems to differ from hotel to hotel. Some properties may be accessible by ADA standards for people with mobility disabilities but not for people with hearing or vision impairments, for example.

If you have a hearing impairment, check whether the hotel has devices to alert you visually to the ring of the telephone, a knock at the door, and a fire/emergency alarm.

If you're bringing a service dog, you're not required to let the hotel staff know ahead of time (they must accommodate your service dog regardless); however, you may wish to notify them in advance as a courtesy.

Sights and Attractions

Most public facilities in New York City, whether museums, parks, or theaters, are wheelchair-accessible. Some attractions have special programs for people with mobility, sight, or hearing, or cognitive disabilities.

Transportation

Although the city is working to retrofit stations to comply with the ADA, not all stations, including many major ones, are accessible and unlikely to be so in the near future. Accessible stations are clearly marked on subway and rail maps. Visitors in wheelchairs have better success with public buses, all of which have wheelchair lifts and "kneelers" at the front to facilitate getting on and off. Bus drivers provide assistance.

Reduced fares are available to disabled passengers; if paying with cash, you need to present a Medicare card or Paratransit card. You may also apply for a Temporary Reduced-Fare MetroCard in advance of your visit. Visitors to the city are also eligible for the same Access-a-Ride program benefits as New York City residents. Drivers with disabilities may use windshield cards from their own state or Canadian province to park in designated handicapped spaces.

The U.S. government's Disability.gov website is loaded with advice for travelers with disabilities, including an entire section devoted transportation. Visit www.disability.gov for more information.

Information and Complaints

Reduced-Fare MetroCard. New York, New York. 511; www.mta.info/accessibility/transit.htm.

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