CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago is still far behind other cities when it comes to audible crosswalk signals for the blind, as CBS 2 first reported last year.
But one group isn’t waiting any longer for the city to install more. They’re taking action.
The American Council of the Blind of Metropolitan Chicago and three individuals filed a class action lawsuit Monday, alleging the city is violating federal law by not having proper signals to help the blind cross the street.
Chicago’s lack of the signals forces blind pedestrians to ask others when it’s safe to walk.
The city has more than 3,000 signalized intersections, but audio pedestrian signals only exist at 11 intersections in all of Chicago. Attorney Jelena Kolic, who represents the plaintiffs and is a member of the non-profit Disability Rights Advocates, said that number is insufficient.
“That’s just not enough for the blind, the community in the city,” Kolic said. “They are unable to cross the vast majority of the signalized intersections without risking harm to themselves and we want the city to remediate that.”
A city spokesperson said in a statement the city does not comment on pending lawsuits, but that the Department of Transportation has begun implementing audible signals in new projects.
Disability Rights Advocates and the plaintiffs are using this lawsuit to try and force the city to install more of those signals, citing the city’s long standing systemic failure to do so.
“They’re not making it a priority and we think that this kind of neglect violates disability rights laws at the federal level,” Kolic said.
In July, the city announced its plans to install 50 more accessible signals in the next two years. But we’ve learned of the 11 currently in existence, one of them, near Roosevelt Road and Canal Street, isn’t even working at the moment.
“We are willing to talk to them and be reasonable but they do need to do a lot more than what they have been doing because having only 11 intersections provide accessible pedestrian signaling is not enough,” Kolic said.