Recognition of the Electromagnetic Sensitivity as a Disability Under the ADA

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) is the Federal agency devoted to the accessibility for people with disabilities. The Access Board is responsible for developing and maintaining accessibility guidelines to ensure that newly constructed and altered buildings and facilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Architectural Barriers Act are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. In November 1999, the Access Board issued a proposed rule to revise and update its accessibility guidelines. During the public comment period on the proposed rule, the Access Board received approximately 600 comments from individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and electromagnetic sensitivities (EMS).

The Board has taken the commentary very seriously and acted upon it. As stated in the Background for its Final Rule Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities; Recreation Facilities that was published in September 2002:

''The Board recognizes that multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities may be considered disabilities under the ADA if they so severely impair the neurological, respiratory or other functions of an individual that it substantially limits one or more of the individual s major life activities. The Board plans to closely examine the needs of this population, and undertake activities that address accessibility issues for these individuals''.

Following its recognition of electro sensitivity and its declaration of commitment to attend to the needs of the electromagnetic sensitive, the Access Board contracted the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to examine how to accommodate the needs of the electro sensitive in federally funded buildings. In 2005 the NIBS issued a report.

The link for the report: http://web.archive.org/web/20060714175343/ieq.nibs.org/ieq_project.pdf

NCEHS Petitions the National Council on Disability to Address Chemical and Electrical Sensitivities; Public Comment Periods Thursday and Friday

29 organizations and 350 individuals have signed on in support of the 6 NCEHS recommendations for action by the National Council on Disability (NCD) to address some of the needs of people with chemical and electrical sensitivities.

Thanks for YOUR help in making this effort a success! I had intended to be in the audience at the NCD Quarterly Board Meeting in Washington, DC this Thursday and Friday, to present public comment in person, but projected DC temps of 102 and high ozone levels forced me to rethink that decision. So, I ll join the meeting by phone. Public Comment is scheduled for Thursday, July 26, 4:30-5:00 EDT and Friday, July 27, 11:00-11:30 EDT. Call-in number (800)239-9838 Passcode 1412617, Conference Leader: Aaron Bishop. During the public comment period the NCD accepts statements on any topic but is particularly interested this time around in discovering what the public believes should be included in the NCD s 2012 statutorily mandated Progress Report to the President and Congress. The Progress report needs to address our issues! You can send written comment in support of the NCEHS recommendations to the National Council on Disability. Address your statement to PublicComment@ncd.gov using the subject ''Public Comment.'' Please copy marylamielle@ncehs.org.

For more information:
Mary Lamielle, National Center for Environmental Health Strategies, (856)429-5358 or (856)816-8820; marylamielle(at)ncehs.org

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