Snow Limits Accessibility for Those With Disabilities

Colleen Flanagan, a 37-year-old little person, manages to navigate Boston streets pretty well. She easily lifts her wheelchair into her hatchback and nimbly moves into the driver's seat. But when she comes to some handicapped parking spots, winter in the city presents a problem.

The Jamaica Plain resident often becomes frustrated and has to move on, sometimes just going back home.

"To dump the snow in literally the only space I can use, it sends a strong message that I'm not worth much here," she said.

Flanagan is using Facebook to document the snow issues impacting the disabled community, from snow piled up on handicapped parking spots to ramps for wheelchairs not being cleared out properly.

"So many people have commented on my Facebook to say that they're experiencing the same thing all over the place," said Flanagan. "Not just in Boston, but in Worcester, in Malden, in Medford, in many, many cities."

"It's a massive problem," said Olivia Richard, a disability rights advocate who says she's hearing complaints on a daily basis. "It's not malicious. It's a lack of understanding of the importance of these spaces to people who need them."

For Colleen Flanagan, she just hopes public and private snow removal crews will keep people like her in mind.

"It's a shame that when the snow comes all of a sudden we forget about accessibility," said Flanagan.

The city of Boston says if drivers notice problems like these, make sure to report it to the city's 311 service.

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