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New Access Regulations Signed

Vermonters Attend Ceremony In Washington, D.C.

Vermont Center for Independent Living Executive Director Sarah Launderville, left, and Karen Topper, director of Green Mountain Self-Advocates, stand in front of the White House on July 26.

PHOTO BY JANET DERMODY

Vermont Center for Independent Living Executive Director Sarah Launderville, left, and Karen Topper, director of Green Mountain Self-Advocates, stand in front of the White House on July 26.

New Access Regulations Signed

The U.S. Department of Justice signed new access regulations before celebrating the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26. A few Vermonters were at the White House to witness President Obama publicizing the long-awaited and updated ADA Standards for Accessible Design – including managers from the state’s largest disability rights organization, the Vermont Center for Independent Living.

VCIL Executive Director Sarah Launderville said, “The energy in D.C. was amazing. The president has made a real commitment to people with disabilities in our nation and hearing from members of the administration shows they are taking this seriously. There were commitments made to hire more people with disabilities within the federal government, and the Department of Justice is stepping up their efforts to enforce the ADA.”

Launderville was among the crowd gathered on the White House’s South Lawn listening to the president’s speech.

He told them, “The administration is working to advance the goals of the ADA so it is not just the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law, that’s being applied all across this country.”

VCIL is a statewide disability rights organization that has advocated for the rights of people with disabilities for the past 30 years. VCIL founders were a part of the creation of the original ADA, and since then, staff has worked diligently to interpret the ADA and the associated building guidelines (the ADAAG) for Vermont businesses, municipalities, and citizens.

“It’s about time the new regs were adopted,” said VCIL Deputy Director Janet Dermody, who also attended the White House ceremony. “Many feel that enforcement of the ADA in Vermont is lacking and these new guidelines answer many questions and add clarity to decisions faced by those designing, altering and building in our communities.”

In general, these final rules will take effect six months after the date on which they are published in the Federal Register. Compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design is permitted after that date, but not required until 18 months after the date of publication.

Access isn’t only about facilities. The DOJ additionally amended its ADA Titles II & III making changes to rules regarding, most notably: service animals, power driven mobility devices, hotel reservations, and effective communication.

VCIL will be offering training in 2011 in addition to its ongoing technical assistance on the ADA and its associated accessibility guidelines (the ADAAG). VCIL is supported by the regional DBTAC ADA Technical Assistance provider – New England ADA Center from the National Institute of Rehabilitation and Research (NIDRR).