05.1 Physical aspects of access at the UN

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The UN Headquarters is a challenging physical environment for women with mobility impairments. Renovations of the UN are in progress (proposed work from 2010-2015) and during this time, temporary access provisions have been made. These do not function optimally. The ramp into the main building has a gradient of about 1 in 10 (1 in 14 is more usable), and lead to a door which is difficult to open from a wheelchair. Similarly, the outside ramp to the temporary building has a steeper gradient. Security arrangements are such that a person in a wheelchair cannot move freely between the two buildings and needs to go through security every time a change of building is required to attend Side Events.

There are accessible toilets in the main building.

For a woman who is blind or vision impaired, there are no tactile markers and it would be impossible to move independently around the buildings or between buildings.

There has been little evidence of sign language interpretation or of live captioning at Side Events or Parallel Events. This would have to be independently arranged.

The trek between the UN and the Church Center is difficult, requiring at least two potentially dangerous road crossings. The Church Center does have wheelchair access, but does not have an elevator to access all floors. The distance between the UN and the other venues for the Parallel Sessions vary. Time is needed to travel between venues, so in a schedule that is back to back meetings, this will need to be planned in advance.

New York is relatively accessible for women with mobility impairments. Most streets have useable cut-away ramps from footpath to road level. All buses are accessible, and most subway trains are accessible (check the compartments you can use). Not all train stations are accessible so it is safer and easier to use the buses. Bus drivers are proficient in the use of the equipment for lowering the bus and ramp and for tying down the wheelchair. Fellow passengers are extremely patient and helpful. Taxis drivers, likewise, are extremely patient and willing to take manual wheelchairs. This Guide does not comment on the availability or service quality of Wheelchair Accessible Taxis in New York. Museums, theatres, art galleries are all accessible.

There are a number of hotels in the Midtown area of New York that have good accessibility, although it is best to check on booking as to your own specific requirements. There are websites that may assist and further information can be found in Chapter 13: Practical Tips for CSW.