Power Door Openers
MS advocate Joann D’Amico Stone uses a scooter. She found over the past several years that there are buildings that she is unable to enter because there is no push button door opener and she is unable to reach the door handle to open it. Joann was instrumental in getting the Greater New England Chapter involved in proposing a change to the Massachusetts building code. This amendment would mandate the installation of power door opener systems, at one entrance, in new and renovated buildings. Individuals cannot fully partake of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship if they are unable to get through the door.
On July 28th 2010, Joann D’Amico Stone and Michelle Dickson, Director of Public Policy Advocacy at the chapter, presented the proposed change to the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board Subcommittee. This subcommittee reviews and updates the state building code (CMR520) that pertains to all accessibility standards including parking and buildings. The AAB Subcommittee voted unanimously to approve the amendment to the building code in July 2011. This code change must now be approved by the full board of the AAB. The AAB is in the process of rewriting the building code book and has not yet reached the section where this proposed change will be included.
The approval process by the Commonwealth for building code changes begins with the Building Code Coordinating Council. The AAB has presented the sections of the rewritten code book that have been approved by the full AAB Board to this council. This process is currently stalled.
Status: The chapter will send a letter to members of the Building Code Coordinating Council to elevate this issue and make them aware of the importance of these building code changes for people with MS and all individuals with disabilities. Waiting for another person to open the door or maneuvering to open a door with great hardship is not “equal access”.