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ADA Still Needs a Voice for Change

Like many early Sunday mornings since becoming empty-nesters, my wife and I were having our breakfast at a small neighbor- hood restaurant. From a window, we saw a rather large, wheelchair bound woman struggling to get inside.

People with her were able to offer assistance, but the look on her face clearly spoke the words she wanted to shout out. Later, she suffered the further indignity of having to ask for restroom accommodations and then maneuvered through tables too close together, small aisles and a door she could not open. She kept her head down, avoiding the room full of pitying eyes.

When President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law in 1990, he said this new landmark legislation would allow everyone with disabilities to "pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence, and freedom." Since that time, major strides have been made. Those who have physical limitations, however, will still find many stores, restaurants and workplaces inaccessible.

Yes, accessibility costs plenty of money, and business owners have borne and may continue to bear the brunt of the impact. Still, those of us enforcing codes should remember two important things before letting a violation go. First, the overall good intended–disabled persons, in many cases, experience greater freedom of movement they otherwise would not. Second, one day, it could be any of us.

After 15 years, ADA still needs a voice for change. The woman eventually returned to her meal, her silent complaint still visible. I told her I would let you know.

Richard A. Piccolo is president of B & F Technical Code Services, Inc. With more than 30 years in the building code and fire industry, Mr. Piccolo is a Master Code Professional, a Certified Building Official, a Certified Fire Official, a Certified Property Maintenance Inspector, a Certified Building Inspector, a Certified Plans Examiner, an Illinois Certified Fire Inspector and a Certified Firefighter III. He has helped write building and fire codes for the state of Illinois as well as a number of municipalities.
B & F Technical Code Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 957648
2401 W. Hassell Road., Suite 1550
Hoffman Estates, IL 60195
  Phone: (847) 490-1443
  Toll-Free (800) 488-7057
  Fax: (847) 490-1476