101st Assembly District
Kevin Cahill

Room 557 LOB, Albany, NY 12248 • (518) 455-4436
Governor Clinton Building, One Albany Ave., Suite G-4
Kingston, NY 12401 • (845) 338-9610

For Immediate Release
Date: February 1, 2002
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Assemblymember Cahill's Able Column - Disabilities Community Wins Gigantic Victory in Building Code Fight - February 2002

Happy New Year! Heading into a new legislative session as Chair of the Assembly's Task Force on People with Disabilities, I am filled with both anticipation and a sense of accomplishment. As I'm sure many of you know by now, New York State's disability community won an important, unprecedented victory on December 19, 2001. On that day, the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code Council unanimously voted to require nearly all newly-constructed multi-unit apartments to be accessible - and more importantly, livable - to wheelchair users and people with other disabilities when New York State converts to a new building code later this year.

Those of you who took part in the fight last year know that the Code Council originally planned to require only two-percent of multi-unit apartment dwelling units to maintain the degree of accessibility that New Yorkers with disabilities need, deserve and have counted on for the last 17 years. The existing building code required all newly-constructed apartments (with 20 or more units) in buildings with elevators and all ground floor apartments to have accessible routes and spaces, particularly at doorways and in bathrooms, to accommodate wheelchair users and other people with disabilities.

In spite of months of letter-writing, phone drives, press conferences, rallies, protests, and even the passage of legislation I drafted and introduced, the Code Council ruled in November to increase the requirement for accessible apartments from two-percent to only ten-percent. Although offered as a "compromise," after living for years with 100-percent accessibility, this move was met with the same stern opposition as the original proposal. In fact, advocates at the November meeting viewed the gesture as insulting, immediately thereafter staging a protest which helped lead to a total restoration of accessibility requirements by the Council.

Our ultimate success highlights what happens when New York's disabled citizens, disability advocates and government representatives unite under a common cause. Our point was simple - to preserve our progressive and exemplary requirements for accessible apartment living - and we won. We proved that advocacy works, that government can work for people with disabilities. What's more, we can and will do it again. I am particularly proud of the Task Force on People with Disabilities office staff for never giving up on this important issue.

Currently, the Task Force is formulating its agenda for the 2002 legislative session. This would be a good opportunity to learn your priorities, concerns and ideas. I invite Able readers to write, call or visit, either in Albany or at my District Office in Kingston. Remember, elected officials work for you - I urge you to continue your advocacy. Together we can make a difference.

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill is the Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities. Anyone with questions, comments or suggestions can reach the Task Force office at 518-455-4592 or by email at