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Message from the commissioner: support for proposed changes to 521 CMR

May 15, 2018

disabilities

Published by:

Disabilities Commission

Kristen McCosh, the Commissioner of the Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities, provides a weekly update on the work happening in her office.

Earlier this month, I testified at the State House to express my support for the proposed changes in Section 521 of the Code of Mass. Regulations (CMR) of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board.

The rewrite of 521 CMR was a long and painstaking process that took years to complete. I know first-hand how thoroughly and diligently these proposed changes were considered, because I was part of the subcommittee who worked on them, along with several of my staff members, disability advocates, government officials, and architects.

We literally went over each proposed change word by word, to fully assess its impact from every perspective possible: socially, institutionally, financially, and legally. And in going through this process, I gained a much deeper understanding of the need to change the existing regulations in order to close some loopholes that may result, however unintentionally, in excluding people with disabilities from many areas of life.

The most impactful change in 521 CMR, if adopted, is that it will create “substantial equivalency” between the AAB and the ADA, meaning that there will be only one building code book for architects, builders, and inspectors to follow. This will increase accessibility in the built environment by clarifying the requirements for everybody, which is critically important, because changing the built environment causes a ripple effect, opening up new opportunities for people with disabilities.

To read more about the 521 CMR, please visit the state's website.