The headline chosen for the front page article April 3 by David Gutman in The Seattle Times set the reader up to have a negative reaction to the city of Seattle’s legal obligation to make our community accessible to everyone by building sidewalk curb cuts: “Seattle may have to spend millions making sidewalks more accessible.”
“Seattle may have to …” suggests the city is being forced to do something unpleasant, and “ … spend millions” is likely to evoke anxiety, and possibly anger, in citizens already feeling overtaxed. It costs money to enforce a law that has enabled millions of individuals with disabilities in the U.S. to participate more fully in public life and enjoy the same benefits as non-disabled individuals, just as so many other things we value in society cost money.
The headline suggests that the money is the main story here, not the enormous public good that comes of making the city more inclusive. An alternative-headline suggestion: “Making Seattle more livable.”
It was a missed opportunity to emphasize how inaccessibility limits the ability of one group of residents to take part in activities that the rest of us take for granted.
Cynthia Salzman, Seattle