Wheelchair users at risk of obstacles on road and sidewalks

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Just to get to her bus stop, Joyce Forrest risks her life.

"It sucks," said Forrest. 

She’s forced to ride in the street because there’s no crosswalk, flashing light or curb ramp to help her get to the other side.

Her Southeast, D.C. street is like an obstacle course.

"People don’t care about people with disabilities and that has to change," said Forrest. "That has to change."

She is dependent on the decency of strangers.

"I’m a person," said Forrest. "Don’t look at my disability." 

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It’s a daily routine Matt Trott knows well.

"Every day is a struggle," said Trott. 

He and his service dog, Fame, face similar obstacles navigating their Falls Church neighborhood to get to public transportation.

"It doesn’t make sense to me," said Trott. 

Each day, Trott has a choice: ride his wheelchair in a busy street or attempt to maneuver around this set of utility poles, inexplicably placed right in the middle of the sidewalk.

When asked how being in a wheelchair makes him feels, he said "it makes you feel like less of a person."

On this day, the ground is dry enough for Trott to take a calculated risk and roll his wheelchair over the dirt and grass.

Even if he makes it past the utility poles, another obstacle is a few feet away. A badly broken sidewalk. 

And then, there’s the challenging placement of the crosswalk button. Another barrier before Trott’s workday has even begun.

After the WUSA9's No Barriers team alerted them to Trott’s barriers, the Falls Church Department of Public Works and Dominion Virginia Power both said they’re looking into either moving the poles or expanding the sidewalk around them. And the city of Falls Church promises to repair that broken sidewalk panel. 

If you know of a barrier to someone with a disability, take a photograph or shoot a short video and email it to us at: nobarriers@wusa9.com. Be sure to include the date and location, and we’ll check it out. That’s what our #NoBarriers project is all about. 

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