Honoring Advocate For The Physically Disabled

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Vince Gram, Who Understands Challenges Facing People With Physical Handicaps, Fights For ADA Compliance

Legislator Hofstein: ‘Vince Gram Is Tenacious And Devoted To Helping Others Facing The Same Difficulties’

COUNTY PRESS RELEASE – A New City man who advocates for compliance with the American With Disabilities Act has been recognized for his efforts by the Rockland County Legislature.

On behalf of the entire board, Rockland County Legislator Lon Hofstein presented Vince Gram with a Distinguished Service Award Wednesday. It is the Legislature’s highest honor.

“I have known Vince Gram for more than 20 years and I can say with certainty, he is tenacious and he is devoted to the cause of improving handicapped-accessibility,” Legislator Hofstein said. “His wife, Shari, fights by his side, and together, the Grams are calling attention to this important issue.”

Gram has been living with multiple sclerosis for more than 15 years and last year, was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He uses a wheelchair, as well as a van, to get around.

Public parking lots typically have single-spaced handicapped spots, as well as double-spaced spots with horizontal blue-stripped lines. That double spot is needed to allow vans and other vehicles to unload their physically disabled passengers, but oftentimes, drivers park in that stripped spot. Just as concerning are the drivers who park in the spots even though they have no handicapped parking license plate or permit.

“For people who rely on wheelchairs and walkers, a blocked spot can mean they have absolutely no way to get out of the vehicle they are in and into the store, restaurant, doctor’s appointment,” Legislator Hofstein said. “It can really impact their quality of life.”

In addition to parking challenges, Gram and others who are physically handicapped, including those who use wheelchairs, canes and walkers, or who simply don’t get around like they used to, often encounter improper or non-existent curb cuts that are supposed to provide unobstructed access between sidewalks and streets.

The situation led Gram’s wife, Shari, to reach out to Legislator Hofstein, who held a symposium this summer with representatives of the county, towns and villages to discuss the issues. Legislator Hofstein said a public awareness effort will be made to educate municipalities and the public about the needs of the physically handicapped and to ensure proper compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 2010.

The ADA sets rules regarding handicapped parking and curb cuts, but lots and curb cuts that complied prior to 2010 with the ADA’s 1991 standards are grandfathered under the old rules. They don’t have to make changes to their parking lots or curbs unless they do an upgrade, such as repaving or restriping an entire lot.

In further recognition of Gram’s advocacy for people with physical disabilities, Legislator Hofstein sponsored a resolution to designate August as Vince Gram Accessible Parking Awareness Month in Rockland County. The purpose is to recognize the challenges faced by those with physical disabilities, as well as the measures that exist to accommodate them so they may fully participate in all that local government and private businesses offer. It was passed unanimously by the Legislature.

“No one should have to enjoy a lesser quality of life because of parking and curb cuts,” Legislator Hofstein said. “I thank Vince and Shari Gram for helping us all to have a deeper understanding of this issue by their willingness to share their personal experiences.”