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DIA In The News

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April 20, 2006
From the NY Daily News

Disabled win Rx fight

A five-year legal struggle by disabled shoppers has forced New York's biggest pharmacy chain to revamp its stores for wheelchair access.

A deal brokered between Duane Reade's owners and Disabled in Action secured promises that narrow doors, impassable steps and blocked aisles will be things of the past.

"Shopping there was so bad I couldn't even reach the machine to swipe my credit card," said Carr Massi, the president of Disabled in Action who uses a wheelchair.

"In many stores the pharmacy was upstairs, and there were no elevators. The aisles were packed with boxes that hadn't been stored yet. It got so bad I had to stop shopping there."

Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act guaranteeing accessibility for shoppers with wheelchairs 14 years ago, Disabled in Action says many stores still have obstacles.

"Duane Reade is certainly not alone in New York," said Massi. "I hope that this agreement will send a signal to other stores. We want to spend our money, and we should be able to."

Many Duane Reade stores, of which there are more than 250, predate the ground-breaking legislation. "We have some small stores and [making them accessible] will be a challenge for us," said Jerry Ray, a senior vice president at Duane Reade. "But I am pleased that we have reached an agreement."

Duane Reade estimates it will take two years to inspect stores and correct problems.

Reported by Adam Nichols



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