State bills on accessibility got their start in Oswego County

OSWEGO COUNTY - A state bill that was born right here in Oswego County has won the support of the Oswego County Legislature.

The bills — A.6215 in the state Assembly and S.05459 in the state Senate — would allow law enforcement personnel to ticket and/or arrest people who park in the access aisle areas next to parking space for the disabled.

For example, disabled parking spaces for the loading and unloading of wheelchairs and other devices always have a lined area next to them to provide space for the disabled to get out of and into their vehicle. When people illegally park in an accessible aisle, it can impede a disabled person’s ability to get in or out of their vehicle.

Oswego County Undersheriff John Toomey told the legislature’s Public Safety Committee that the law will allow law enforcement to arrest or tow people who park in these areas.

The bills also replace the term “handicapped” with “persons with disabilities” for vehicle and traffic purposes, amend state law to require accessible parking in any shopping center (not just those with five or more retail stores) and it also clarifies that off-street parking is also subject to these parking requirements. These changes help match the state law with the Americans with Disabilities Act on the federal level.

Legislator Terry Wilbur, R-Hannibal, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said the bills came about when a person from ARISE in Oswego County went to Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, to bring up the accessible aisle issue. That person had noticed drivers parking in the aisle areas -- even though there were stripes there to signify no parking -- and it made it difficult to access the disabled vehicles.

ARISE serves more than 7,000 people from its offices in Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, Cayuga and Seneca counties, addressing the social, educational, economic and individual interests of people with disabilities.

The bills, sponsored by Barclay and Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, also is endorsed by the New York Association on Independent Living, a statewide, nonprofit membership association, created by and composed of Independent Living Centers across New York state. Independent Living Centers are unique disability-led, cross-disability, locally administered, nonprofit organizations, providing advocacy and support to people with disabilities of all ages to live independently and fully integrated into their communities.

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