The overwhelming majority of Americans with disabilities live in metropolitan areas. Yet those areas continue to contain significant barriers that keep disabled people from fully participating in city life. Although political and social debate has periodically turned its attention to urban issues or problems — or even the so-called “urban crisis” — during the past several decades, it has too rarely attended to the issues of disability access. When political debate has focused on disability issues, it has tended to address them in a nationally uniform way, without paying attention to the particular concerns of disabled people in cities. Even when city leaders have focused attention directly on the impact of disability policy on their municipalities — for example, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell’s attacks in the mid-1990s on the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) requirement to install curb cuts — they have done so as part of a more general attack on mandates on state and local governments, in and out of the disability context. This symposium is a welcome exception to these trends. By focusing specifically on the intersection between disability and the city, the papers from this conference will spur discussion of these important questions. In this contribution, I ask what we should want from an urban disability agenda. I begin by setting out some principles that should guide such an agenda. I then highlight some of the key barriers, in existing law and politics, for achieving those principles. In the last Section, a brief conclusion, I speculate on the prospects for addressing those barriers and ask whether the COVID-19 pandemic has made effective action on this front more or less likely. I offer this contribution as an exercise in issue spotting. My goal is not to set forth a detailed critique of any current urban policy, nor is it to offer any particular path forward. Rather, it is to identify some key considerations for policymakers to address as they construct a truly inclusive urban agenda.
Bagenstos, Samuel R. "Towards an Urban Disability Agenda." Fordham Urb. L. J. 47, no. 5 (2020): 1335-58.