Outdoor dining presents major obstacles for disabled community

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Outdoor dining has become quite the nightmare for Executive Director of Disabled in Action Zachary Lewis and the disabled community.

"I feel like I'm not human at times or I'm a second class citizen, and it's like when are they going to pay attention and wake up," Lewis said.

Lewis and 6abc's Ashley Johnson went around Center City together, which was like trying to get through a maze with sidewalks and curb cuts blocked.

Restaurants are required to leave a 6-foot wide clear path but too often that's not the case.

"I've seen that there's a lot of outdoor dining but there's no walkways or areas for people with disabilities to get through. It's narrow and there's a lot of times where people have to move the chairs, or if I have to wait on someone, which I shouldn't have to, I'll move them myself," Lewis said.

The city says so far, they've received 27 complaints since outdoor dining started back in mid-June. And so far, 46 restaurants have received violations, mainly for blocked sidewalks.

But ADA advocates say a whole lot more must be done.

"Violations-- I don't know what those violations are but a lot of times when you affect their bottom dollar, that's when things get done," Lewis said.

The city said in a statement, "ADA accessibility is something the City takes very seriously; that is why we took particular care to develop specific guidelines while exploring options for expanded outdoor dining."

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the city as of August 2019 for barriers in pedestrian's right of way. It's still an ongoing process.

Disabled In Action is represented by Disability Rights Advocates and David Ferleger.
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