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ATBCB Testimony
Monday, January 31, 2000
Los Angeles, CA

U.S. Access Board to
Revamp the ADA

By Susan Molloy and Anne Jackson

Numerous spokespersons with chemical and electrical sensitivities dominated the morning session of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) meeting in Los Angeles on January 31. A number of organization representatives and individuals gave emphatic testimony, repeatedly urging the Board to include their concerns when regulating access for people with disabilities.

Susan Molloy, of Snowflake, AZ, "fired the shot," opening public comments on behalf of the National Coalition for the Chemically Injured. Still reeling from fragrance and elevator exposures, she gave an impassioned speech which brought tears to the eyes of some in the audience. The Reverend David Gilmartin, also of Snowflake, was one of two speakers testifying for the Environmental Health Network, Larkspur, California. He eloquently enumerated the many ways that those with immune and neurological diseases are ignored under current regulations.

Sandra Ross, Ph.D., submitted a statement from the Health Council of Marin County, CA, which was read aloud into the hearing record by Anne Jackson. Dr. Ross emphasized the prevalence of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity in numerous studies in the United States. Testimony by Micki Davi, of Conifer, CO, was read by Julia Hoover. Ms. Davi gave numerous specific suggestions which could be used to make buildings accessible for affected groups.

Speakers for the Epilepsy Society, based in San Diego, testified regarding the seizures that can be induced by sound and light alarms installed in buildings, leaving people stranded alone and unconscious, immobilized in buildings that might have been burning.

Sheera Bleckman and Benjamin Tash Sclove, of Boulder, CO, gave informed testimony based upon their research for an upcoming film about the misuse of toxics. Barbara Wilkie, EHN board member and editor of EHN's newsletter, The New Reactor, was a phone hook-up speaker and highlighted the fact that those for whom the board concentrates its access activities could be denied access by invisible barriers if they also suffered from chemical sensitivity. Julia Hoover of Los Angeles testified about toxic fragrance in her former office, which has rendered her unable to resume her professional career, even though she is well unless exposed to perfumes.

Anne Jackson, Director of the Environmental Health Association, based in Los Angeles, CA, urged everyone in the room to educate others about the dangers of pesticides and fragrances. She cited researcher Kaye H. Kilburn, M.D.,* author of Chemical Brain Injury, which warns that we are risking widespread brain damage in the future if we ignore this problem.

The Access Board sets accessibility standards for several federal agencies, including Housing and Urban Development, the General Services Administration, Department of Defense, and U.S. Postal Service. This hearing, the first of two, was part of the public comment process concerning several dozen proposed modifications to the application and regulation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The second, and final, hearing is scheduled for March 13 in Arlington, Virginia. To sign up, phone 1-800-USA-ABLE. The location is the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, 1800 Jefferson Davis Highway, from 9:30 A.M.-- 5:00 P.M. Scheduled speakers include Larry Plumlee, M.D. for the National Coalition for the Chemically Injured; Mary Lamielle, Director of the National Center for Environmental Health Strategies; and Betty Bridges, R.N., of the Fragranced Products Information Network, who will focus on synthetic fragrances as they impede access of people with chemical sensitivities and other respiratory, immune and neurological conditions.

The Access Board is the entity which has determined your level of access to doctors' offices, post offices, hospitals, trains and buses, workplaces, shops, apartments , hotels, restaurants, counseling centers and parks. If there's something you want the Board to consider as they work on the revision of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act, make your needs and observations known before the extended cut-off date of May 15, to:

Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111

Call: (202) 272-5434(v.) or (202) 272-5449 (TTY)

Toll-free: 1-800-USA-ABLE

FAX: (202) 272-5447

E-mail: -- you must include your full name and address within the body of your email correspondence for it to be considered.

For complete information regarding the November 1999 ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (64 FR 62248), please visit

*Kaye Kilburn, MD
Career Resume - How common and abundant chemicals affect the brain

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The Environmental Health Network (EHN) [of California] is a 501 (c) (3) non profit agency and offers support and information for the chemically injured. HomePage is