Time flies. It must have been about 30 years ago when my boss sent me to a seminar held at a local hotel – the topic was a new federal law called the Americans With Disabilities Act. At that time there was already an accessibility standard in place (A117.1 Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities) but the ADA really focused the door and hardware industry on how our products affect people with disabilities. The 30th anniversary of the ADA was yesterday – July 26th, 2020.
Because I entered the industry just a few years before the ADA legislation was enacted, I wasn’t really aware of the efforts of the disabled community in the 1970’s and 1980’s which helped to bring these requirements to the forefront. But I recently watched an interview and read an article on CNN called ‘Crip Camp’: Where disability rights stand 30 years after these kids fought for recognition and changed the world.
This video clip, in particular, touched me:
“The young people getting out of their wheelchairs, not able to use their lower extremities, but still crawling up those marble steps … ” said Coelho with obvious emotion.
“All of a sudden it was visual: The Capitol steps are not inclusive for people in wheelchairs and for people with disabilities. I knew this was going to really change things. We passed the bill in the House by a big margin.”
When it comes to codes and standards, I believe that it’s extremely important to understand where the requirements came from and why they exist. I’ve written before about spending my first 10+ years in the industry knowing that I had to follow the rules of NFPA 80, for example, but not really understanding why. So I’m so excited to watch the 2020 Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary that chronicles the efforts of these disability rights activists, beginning in a summer camp for people with disabilities.
Next up in the Family Movie Night Quarantine Series…Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (available on Netflix!).