Woman’s Accessibility Needs Prompt July POM for GUSA New England

Wheelchair Lift

Congratulations to Mike Doyle and the rest of the folks at Garaventa USA in New England. Their care and dedication has allowed a Boston woman to regain some of her freedom and independence. This installation occurred in spite of several obstacles, including a very tight time line. That is why this project has been named the Garaventa Lift Project of the Month for July, 2016.

Because the lower landing of the lift is a public sidewalk, and because we needed to attach the lift to the brickwork, three variances were required from the State of Massachusetts. Often, this kind of red tape can delay a project for weeks, months or indefinitely. However, Susan Kron, the lift user and a woman who has been diagnosed with terminal ALS, had Mike Doyle of Garaventa Lift in her corner.195 botolph

Mr. Doyle is a long-time professional sales representative with Garaventa USA in New England. He worked diligently with the State to present the case for the variances. He worked with the factory in Surrey to accelerate the manufacturing process.

In his words, the lift, “allows Mrs Kron in her remaining days to get out of the house, to the doctor or simply to smell the flowers. As everyone on this end knows I became e a little bit attached to the project and specifically the cause as it and she became near and dear to my heart…I like to think this is what we are all about, helping those in need.”

195 St. Botolph (2) cropFor her part, Susan appreciates the effort. In a message to Mike after the lift installation was completed, she wrote, “Dear Mike, I wanted to let you know that the lift is fantastic. Thank you so much for all you did to usher us through the maze of regulations and rules. Being able to get out and about again means the world to me, and we couldn’t have done it without you.”

 

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All In One Mobility Captures POM

All In One Mobility of Portland, Oregon have captured the Garaventa Lift Project of the Month for February, 2016. Their installation of two inclined platform lifts at the Willamette Community Church have allowed for accessibility to the church and to the adjoining school.

Willamette Community Church in Albany, Oregon

Willamette Community Church in Albany, Oregon

Garaventa Artira curving inclined platform lift

Garaventa Artira curving inclined platform lift

Inclined Platform Lift at Willamette Community Church

Inclined Platform Lift at Willamette Community Church

The church opted for a custom color Xpress II on the west side for church access, and a custom color five stop Artira on the east side for school access.

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.