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Advocates for the disabled share concerns with Onondaga County political candidates

Ellen Abbott
Advocates for the disabled speak at a forum for Onondaga County political candidates

Candidates for local offices courted the disabled community at their yearly candidate forum in Syracuse recently.

For most people, cracks in the sidewalk and potholes are an annoyance. For someone like Starr Guckert, who questioned candidates at the forum, the state of sidewalks and streets goes way beyond that.

“I have a visual impairment and a mobility impairment, and I can’t get from here to ARISE, which is a block away, without falling, because I don’t see the cracks in the sidewalks,” said Guckert.

Improving infrastructure is one way local politicians can help the disabled community. That, along with housing and zoning issues, are also on the list of items that are important to a voting block that ranges from the visually impaired to the developmentally disabled. 

Sally Johnston, the Advocacy Coordinator for AccessCNY says one initiative that could help many in Syracuse, could be solved by City Hall.

“We’re concerned about zoning problems. With developing ramps and how long it takes, four to six weeks, when someone needs a ramp immediately. When they’re in rehab and trying to get out, and have that ramp. The process needs to be improved,” said Johnston.

She was happy to hear all four candidates for mayor promise to consider creating an office in City Hall that advocates for the needs of the disabled.  She says it’s worked in New York City.

“The disability community has had a really good relationship with that committee, and many good things have come out of it, in terms of access to cabs, and curb cuts, and ramps and that sort of things.  So it’s been very successful, and I’d like to see that here,” said Johnston.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.