March 12, 2014
The Vermont Center for Independent Living is strongly opposed to H.629, “An act relating to elevators.”
• This bill will allow builders to forego adding an elevator/lift to many public buildings if there is less than 3,000 square feet per story. Today, if a building will have 1,000 square feet or more per story, vertical access is required.
• If the bill passes, people with disabilities will not have access to upper floors of many buildings. The bill would deprive Vermonters of equal access to services and employment opportunities in many commercial office spaces.
• The current 1,000-square foot standard is more stringent than the federal ADA, but has made sense for 20 years in Vermont where commercial space is often relatively small.
• Ensuring access for all helps keep downtowns vibrant. Accessibility to upper floors by those with disabilities and the general public is needed to make downtown buildings viable for multi-use development.
• Some proponents of the bill point to concerns about the cost of elevator maintenance; however, LULA (Limited Use/Limited Application) or platform lifts require no yearly maintenance contract.
• H.629 would erode Vermont’s track record as a leader in the disability rights movement and send the message that people with disabilities are second-class citizens.