Public Accessibility

In this article, we examine public accessibility for people with disabilities. How did the movement towards a more accessible society begin?  First, let’s get some perspective.

On July 26, 1990, at a signing ceremony at the White House, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since then, awareness of the ADA requirements and compliance with them has become universal in new commercial construction. There is no doubt that this legislation has had a profound effect on the business of manufacturing, installing and servicing accessibility equipment.

However, this law did not represent the beginning of the trend towards greater public accessibility. The seeds for that were planted much earlier by shifts in public policy and the laws enacted to ban discrimination based on race, ethnic origin and gender. This was followed by similar legislation way back in 1973 which banned discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal funds.

This really meant that, for the first time ever, society began to take responsibility for providing greater inclusion of people with disabilities. Before that, the prevailing thought was that the exclusion of people with disabilities was a direct consequence of their own limitations. (Mayerson, 1992)

By the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the Disability Rights movement had sprouted with the founding of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund which continues to provide a voice for the rights of the disabled today.

Increasing awareness and legislation was followed by the transformation of thousands of existing public places to allow for accessibility. This continues today; many publicly owned buildings in smaller communities remain inaccessible.

Through the 1980’s and 90’s, the use of platform lifts for wheelchairs started to become more widespread. The Safety Standard used as a basis for state safety regulations, ASME A17.1 became A18.1 in 1999. This separated the requirements for wheelchair platform lifts from the requirements for passenger elevators, which remain under A17.1. As the A18.1 has become further refined, it has been adopted as a safety standard for accessibility equipment by virtually every state in the USA.

dangerous-ramp-down-to-officesIn the early days, accessibility equipment was considered by some as the ugly stepchild of the elevator industry.  These were lighter-duty elevating devices that, when examined under the scrutiny of legislation intended for passenger elevators, could not possibly stack up. In some cases, the equipment was poorly designed to begin with. Now, the accessibility industry has matured, the equipment is better understood, and the solutions provided are legitimate, code-compliant and safe.

102_0238For the future, we will continue to see accessibility equipment used to provide solutions in commercial and public places. We are also seeing an upward trend with residential accessibility. According to Cheyenne realtor Kari Happold, “Aging in Place” and “Universal Design” have now become common terms for designers of new homes, so has the use of residential elevators and stair lifts.

Independent Auditor Rates Garaventa Lift on “5S”

Peter_and_AngeloAugust 27, 2014

Angelo Sahagun shows off his work area to Peter Rice, an auditor who is conducting an independent audit of every work station at Garaventa Lift, including all of the offices. He is looking for conformance to the principles of “5S” – sort, simplify, sweep, standardize and sustain.

Each department is rated on each of the 5 elements using a five point scale. Every work station, every department, and the company as a whole are all expected to show significant continuous improvement.

The scoring criteria for every element are posted in all departments, along with the most CR_5S_Boardrecent audit results and action items to be completed in order to increase the score for the next audit. Weekly  “walk around” inspections ensure that the program remains a top priority.

 

 

 

Maryland’s Hosanna Community House Named Garaventa Lift Project of the Month for July

Congratulations to Bedco Mobility of Baltimore for their submission of photos from the historic Hosanna Community House in Darlington, Maryland.

The building has an interesting story. It was one of the first schools built for the recently-freed African-Americans in former slave-holding states. By 1907, it was so run down that it was actually condemned for use as a school. Regardless, it was somehow still used as a school for African-American children for another 38 years. It has seen many repairs over the years, and now it is completely restored and functions as a museum, preserving the structure and it’s history for future generations. Find out more about it at http://www.hosannaschoolmuseum.org/

An Xpress II Inclined Platform Wheechair Lift has recently been added to the outside stairway to provide ADA-compliant, barrier-free accessibility.

 

Xpress II Inclined Platform Wheelchair Lift with optional vinyl cover

Xpress II Inclined Platform Wheelchair Lift with optional vinyl cover

An Xpress II Inclined Platform Lift, unfolded and ready to board

An Xpress II Inclined Platform Lift, unfolded and ready to board

An Xpress II Inclined Platform Wheelchair Lift installed on the narrow back stairs of a historic building in Maryland

An Xpress II Inclined Platform Wheelchair Lift installed on the narrow back stairs of a historic building in Maryland