In a case where blind Long Islanders sued Nassau County over a lack of specialized pedestrian crossing signals, a judge has ruled that installing the devices is within the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In the Eastern District suit, the Long Island Council of the Blind—and individuals who are blind, deaf-blind or severely visually impaired—complained that the county violated their rights by not adding the specialized devices when it altered or installed signals.
The county said it was not technically possible to install the so-called “accessible pedestrian signals” at every intersection. And though the ADA forbids discrimination in access to public services, programs and activities, the county maintained installation of the signals was not contemplated by the law.
Both sides moved for summary judgment. Eastern District Judge Denis Hurley (See Profile), sitting in Central Islip, denied both motions.
In Scharff v. County of Nassau, 10-cv-4208, Hurley wrote that the “act of installing and maintaining pedestrian crossing signals at crosswalks is a normal function of the county, and therefore” in the law’s scope.
At the same time, Hurley said there were triable issues of fact in the case.
For instance, he observed there was no evidence in the record on which locations would or would not be “structurally impracticable” for installation.
Martin Coleman of Woodbury and Robert Briglio of Nassau Suffolk Law Services appeared for the plaintiffs.
Assistant County Attorney Ralph Reissman appeared for the county.