In a landmark victory for disability rights advocates, the de Blasio administration has agreed to survey and ensure that all of the city’s roughly 162,000 sidewalk curbs are accessible for New Yorkers with mobility and vision-impairment issues.

A U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday issued preliminary approval of a settlement that resolves two class action lawsuits brought by disability rights activists, the first going back as far as 1994.

Susan Dooha, the executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, the lead plaintiff in the most recent case from 2014, called the agreement with the city “long overdue.” Her organization sued the city for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act after finding that more than 75 percent of the 1,066 curbs in Lower Manhattan had barriers that presented safety hazards for those with mobility and vision issues. More than a quarter had no curb cut whatsoever.

“We believe it will make a tremendous difference in people’s lives when it is carried out,” she said, adding, “Carrying it out is going to be important to monitor.”

In addition to requiring a series of surveys to address the status of curb cuts, the city must submit its findings and plan of action to a court-appointed monitor. Curbs must have ramps as well as visual markers for the visually impaired. The first survey is due by October 31st, 2019. Curbs must have ramps as well as tactile pavings for the visually impaired.

New York City has been singled out for having an especially poor track record on accessibility. Following the 1994 lawsuit, the city reached a settlement in which it agreed to make significant investments in curb upgrades. But a federal court-ordered report in 2017 found that 15 years after that agreement was reached, 80 percent of curb cuts were still not ADA compliant.

“It’s frustrating that it takes lawsuits like this to enforce what is already guaranteed in the ADA,” said Joe Rappaport, Executive Director at Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled. “But it’s definitely a groundbreaking case.”

According to 2016 census data, there are 570,560 New Yorkers with some form of ambulatory disability, and 201,134 who are visually impaired.

The settlement comes shortly after another major ruling in favor of disability advocates. Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that the MTA broke the law by failing to install elevators during a 2013 renovation of a Bronx subway station. The MTA had unsuccessfully tried to argue that the scope of the work did not trigger the accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“New York City takes ADA compliance seriously, and is deeply committed to continuing to make pedestrian ramps accessible Citywide,” said Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city’s law department, said in a statement to Gothamist on Thursday. “We've already spent over $125 million on ramp upgrades during the last three complete fiscal years.”

In 2017, city officials said that of the city’s 162,000 curb corners, about 2,246 have no ramps. The Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for the most recent data.

The administration has said it has a budget of $1.55 billion over the next ten years to meet the requirements of the settlement, according to a spokesman. That includes adding more than 500 positions to the Department of Transportation.

Dooha, however, warned that it was premature to assign costs to the plan. “Unless they have completed that survey, there is no way to know the cost other than coming up with a guesstimate,” she said.

Milagros Franco, a 42-year-old wheelchair user, treated the news with cautious optimism.

Franco, who works as a housing activist at Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, uses a motorized wheelchair to commute to work from her home near Stuyvesant Town. Using a subway, she said the trip to downtown Brooklyn takes about an hour and relies on her knowledge of all the area's "good curb cuts." She said that even when she does find curb cuts, it is not uncommon to see them in crumbling condition, making them hard to cross or causing damage to her wheels.

Because her regular wheelchair was in the shop, Franco on Thursday had to use her manual wheelchair, a test of her muscle strength. A close-call with a car while crossing the street further reminded her how difficult it was for the disabled to navigate the city.

She said she wanted to see the city make the improvements before celebrating the settlement.

“The fat lady isn’t singing yet,” she said. “But it’s a step in the right direction.”