ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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ANSI Honors Veterans

Standards Work Supports Accessible Design

New York, Nov 11, 2003

The tradition of memorializing America’s veterans has its origin in an auspicious ending: the celebrated conclusion of World War I at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month), known as “Armistice Day.” In 1921, a nameless American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on this day, and similar ceremonies were held in France and Germany, to symbolize remembrance and respect for the veterans of that war. The hope that World War I would be “the War to end all wars” was dashed when World War II broke out in Europe, not long after Congress made Armistice Day a national holiday in 1938. The holiday has evolved to honor veterans of all wars, and in 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day to honor all American veterans for their loyal service.

Today, legislation has played a vital role in the lives of veterans beyond the national reverence of their heroic service to our country. Laws protecting veteran’s rights to employment, education and healthcare are monitored closely by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an example of legislation that is closely followed by veterans’ advocacy groups as well, for it made important changes in access for the millions of disabled persons in the United States, including more than two million disabled veterans.

The National Architecture Program of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, a congressionally chartered veterans service organization founded in 1946, has helped to promote accessible design by eliminating the barriers that keep people with physical disabilities out of homes, office buildings, hospitals, and other public spaces. The National Architecture Program promotes accessible design through technical assistance services, standards development, design guides, and building code initiatives. Program architects work with both the private sector and government to encourage quality accessible design and construction of VA facilities, the development of accessible, affordable housing, the adoption of appropriate and uniform accessibility standards and codes, and increased awareness of the needs of people with disabilities.

The International Code Council (ICC), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, has numerous publications dealing with accessibility, including a guide to the ADA Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), written by the U.S. Access Board. The guide explains some of the basic considerations for accessible design and clarifies specific ADAAG provisions in an effort to address frequently asked questions. Another ICC publication, ANSI A117.1-200x, Accessible and Useable Buildings and Facilities, is an American National Standard currently under revision. The purpose of this standard is to establish the minimum requirements needed to make sites, facilities, buildings and elements accessible to and usable by people with physical disabilities. The intent of the standard is to allow a person with a physical disability to independently get to, enter, and use a site, facility, building, or element.

See related story: DoC's Assistive Technology Initiative Will Reach Out to Industry and Standards Developers