People with disabilities call attention to snowy sidewalks, parking lots

Navigating communities are a struggle, especially during winter weather.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:47 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Snowy weather can make it difficult for nearly everyone to get around, but it’s a bigger a struggle for people of varying ability levels.

“You’re having to think about where the snow going to be,” RAMP’s systems advocacy coordinator, Eric Brown said. “Where can I park that will give me the best opportunity to get somewhere?”

Those thoughts cross nearly everyone’s minds when snow storms strike their community. But for Eric Brown, they become even more pressing.

“I have cerebral palsy. I was born with my disability,” Brown said. “It affects my ability to walk around in the community.” Brown says he struggles to get around everyday, but it’s even more difficult in the winter.

“The last snow storm we had, the roads were cleared quickly. But the snow had been pushed over to the curb,” said Brown. In fact, Brown almost had to give up on his errands because the snowy sidewalks blocked his path. “In order to get to the place I was going, I had to step over a large snowbank.” He couldn’t do that. It forced him to move his car and find an alternate route.

Brown does credit the city of Rockford and his organization RAMP, for working together on solutions. “The mayor and his team have always been receptive to making sure that information gets out, but it does take a few days for the snow to be removed,” said Brown.

That’s why Brown calls on community members to step up and dig away at the barriers.

“Today you go home and you are non-disabled, tomorrow you may wake up and have a family member wake up and they need access due to a disability,” said Brown. “Be mindful that not only are you clearing it for people with disabilities, but older adults and people with strollers.”