Improving Access To Federal Buildings

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on July 16, 2015 # News, Advocacy and Policy

On June 9, the United States Senate passed Senate Resolution 197, a resolution recognizing the need to improve physical access to many federally funded facilities for all people of the United States, particularly people with disabilities.These resolutions express the sense of the Congress and send a message across the federal government that Congress takes the access mandate of the ADA seriously.

The story of this resolution began when citizens with paralysis in Connecticut noticed that their local federal offices, particularly post offices, were not accessible. Specifically, post offices lacked the automatic doors that people using wheelchairs need to access the buildings. The Citizens Coalition for Equal Access organized around the issue, and successfully advocated for accessible doors. They also took the issue to their elected representatives in the Congress, and on April 17, 2015, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), and U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced resolutions in the Senate and House, respectively, that recognized the need to improve physical access for people with disabilities at federally-funded facilities.

“This resolution is about raising awareness and fulfilling promises that remain unkept,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Tearing down barriers to individuals with disabilities is a measure of how good we are as a civilized society.”

“Americans with disabilities deserve equal access to federal facilities, and I support this resolution to improve access to these facilities and ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to engage as equal members of society,” said Senator Ayotte.

Senator Murphy said, “Since passage of the ADA more than two decades ago, the United States has led the way in helping people with disabilities integrate into every aspect of American society. Unfortunately though, accessibility for our elderly and disabled citizens at post offices, libraries, and other federally-funded buildings is still far too limited. It’s time to do our part and stand up for the equality and dignity of all Americans by passing this resolution.”

"Whether it's ensuring that a disabled veteran can easily enter a VA clinic or that a senior can walk into the local post office, we have an opportunity to improve access to facilities for all Americans, no matter their ability,” said Representative Esty. “I'm proud to work with local advocates like Ray Elling to call on Congress to address a real need for so many families and improve access to federally-funded facilities."

The Foundation is working with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Disability Rights Network to secure more supporters in the House. Stay tuned for updates on this resolution!