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Indiana disability rights group files complaint against Amtrak

Marilyn Odendahl
December 13, 2013
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The Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission has filed a disability discrimination complaint against Amtrak for non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

IPAS surveyed all 11 Amtrak stations in Indiana and found accessibility problems at every one.

As a result, the organization announced Dec. 12 it has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, the federal agency responsible for enforcement of the ADA. IPAS is requesting that the Justice Department investigate the compliance issues and ensure Amtrak makes the necessary changes to the Hoosier stations to become fully accessible for individuals with disabilities.

The survey of stations conducted by IPAS was part of a national review done in coordination with the National Disability Rights Network and 24 other organizations to inspect Amtrak train stations for accessibility compliance. After passage of the ADA in 1990, Amtrak was given 20 years to update its system to meet the new standards.

The National Disability Rights Network released a report in October 2013, detailing the results of the review. It concluded that 23 years after the ADA was signed into law, 95 percent of all surveyed stations had barriers to accessibility.   

IPAS surveyed the stations in Indiana located in Connersville, Crawfordsville, Dyer, Elkhart, Hammond, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Michigan City, Rensselaer, South Bend, and Waterloo.

It found ticket counters were too high for people in wheelchairs, restroom doors were heavy and the stalls were too narrow for a wheelchair, and parking lots did not have accessible spaces marked. In South Bend, passengers had to cross the tracks with large gaps to get to the platform and there was no sign of an elevator to the platform.

“People with disabilities have been very patient with Amtrak and IPAS believes that enough is enough; 23 years is a long time for individuals with disabilities to wait for equal access,” said Gary Richter, IPAS executive director.   
 

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