Dear Little Help,
Show your management company New York City’s Human Rights Law, which states that reasonable requests must be granted for people with disabilities. Certainly installing a safety bar seems simple enough and should be acted upon.
This shouldn’t be news to your management company. Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. This law requires new residential buildings to provide easy access to people who use wheelchairs or have difficult navigating stairs. Bathrooms must be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs as well.
Buildings constructed before 1990 are not required to be retrofitted (it would be extremely costly), but they still have to comply with reasonable requests. So, if a building has steps into the lobby that make it impossible for a wheelchair to enter, they may have to add a ramp. In other words what can be achieved easily (like your grab bar) and carried out without much difficulty or expense must be done.
Now that you know your rights, be sure to speak up. Your building management should realize that putting in a safetly bar is a much smarter move than risking a fine.
Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.