DISABILITY ADVOCATES PROTECT ACCESS

ADA IS PROTECTED AND EXPANDED BY TESTIMONY IN SACRAMENTO

We can thank the remarkable testimony from the disability community January 23 & 24 at the California Building Standards Commission for convincing the Commission to revise some of the most egregious of the code change proposals that concerned us.   Congratulations to everyone who called in and those who attended the hearing.  Great job!

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Here’s what was accomplished:

1. The exception for “structural impracticability” that was proposed to apply to both new and existing construction will be eliminated.

2.  We will no longer be held forever to using the 2010 code for telephones, restrooms, drinking fountains, signs and entrances.  As the proposed code was written, any building that was remodeled and had to make these features accessible would not have to make any upgrades if they met the 2010 standards.  Instead, the this section will be amended to allow this kind of “grandfathering” only for one code cycle back (the code changes every three years.)

3.  An accessible route will be required to water slides, wrestling & boxing arenas, animal containment areas, and raised diving boards & diving platforms

4.  Hotel and motel rooms which are not accessible will still have to have accessible room and bathroom entrances and access into and through the bathroom.  Access into the bathroom had been proposed to be eliminated.

5.  The color contrast required for way finding surfaces for persons with vision impairments will be maintained.

6.  The center line of toilets will have to be between 17 and 18 inches from the wall.  The proposed code was to allow 16 to 18 inches, which would create a barrier for many users.

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Many issues for the vision impaired were discussed by those testifying and will also be the subject of future code development as will be our issues which did not get addressed yesterday.  The Commission also voted to direct the State Architect to work more openly with people with disabilities.

What we will have in the new code that goes into effect January 1, 2014 is the best of the ADA Standards which provide more access requirements than we have had in state code and the best of the state code which we have used since 1982.

It’s amazing how effective the disability community can be.  However, much appreciation must go to the Secretary Anna Caballero who chairs the Commission meetings.  She was most gracious and went out of her way to insure we had an opportunity to make ourselves heard.  Appreciation also goes to the staff for the State Architect, who met advocates the evening of the 23rd to discuss our concerns, which was very helpful in clarifying the issues so that they could be addressed under the parameters of the Commission authority.

DISABLED FARE POORLY IN JOB MARKET

January Disability Employment Statistics Released

The U.S. Dept. of Labor has released the first disability employment statistics for 2012. 

Labor force participation for people with disabilities was 20.0 percent, compared to 68.9 percent for people without disabilities, while the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 12.9, compared to 8.7 for people without disabilities. 

Among youth age 16-19, the employment rate was 15.0 percent for those with disabilities, compared to 23.6 for those with no disabilities.  For youth age 20-24, the employment rate was 26.7 percent for those with disabilities, compared to 61.0 for those with no disabilities.

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Detailed information on the state of employment for disabled American workers can be found at: http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/DisabilityEmploymentStatistics.htm