Eighteen years after Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, the House is finally moving to comply by making the speaker’s rostrum wheelchair accessible.
“Our commitment to a barrier-free workplace sends an invaluable message to all Americans that the House will lead by example,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
The House leadership announced that it will reconstruct the built-in wooden chair on the podium at the front of the House chamber and build lifts to provide accessibility to wheelchairs, The Washington Post reports.
The reconstruction will allow Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin, a quadriplegic and the only permanently disabled member of the House, to preside over sessions for the first time.
“This is a sign that Congress is recognizing the diversity of the population,” Andrew Imparato, president of the American Association of People with Disabilities, told The Post.
“In some ways it’s sad we had to wait this long to make this happen, but we give the bipartisan leadership credit that it happened now.”
The American with Disabilities Act required offices, schools, and other public facilities to be made accessible for people with disabilities. The Capitol’s historic status, however, exempts it from the law’s strictest provisions.
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