A bill that would establish the installation of variable-height changing tables for adults and children in publicly-funded buildings passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Tuesday 74-16.
HB 3952 is designed to establish “Max’s Law” and is now eligible to be heard in the Senate.
Beyond baby changing stations
“Max’s Law” is named after a four-year-old constituent in House District 93 currently served by Representative Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, the author.
Max was born with spina bifida and other challenging conditions that will make it necessary to keep him in protective underwear much longer than many other children.
The issue is that some children bigger than babies and adults need their caregivers to have a private place and the changing table to take care of changing needs for certain persons with disabilities.
“Open to everyone”
Max’s mother, Audra Beasely, praised members of the House from both parties who passed the bill by a wide margin.
“They upheld their commitment ‘to making the legislative process open to everyone with special needs.’ [language on the state’s website] Oklahomans with disabilities deserve equitable access to all buildings funded by their tax dollars,” wrote Beasley in a message to Free Press. “They belong in our buildings and they deserve the ability to enter buildings like our Capitol and not sacrifice their dignity and health to do so.”
“I want to thank Representative Mickey Dollens for his hard work and dedication to all Oklahomans, and also to the many other State Representatives that are making our state more inclusive and accessible for all, including those with disabilities,” wrote Beasley.
She has worked hard to raise awareness of the need and to get legislators on board. Free Press covered one event at Manuel Perez Park on the south side of Oklahoma City.
“Inclusion is a conscious choice by society to remove barriers that prevent equal access, to acknowledge differences and build a community by all for all,” Dollens said in a press release. “Oklahoma can and will be a leader for accessibility and inclusion for people of all ages with disabilities.”
“People like my constituent, Max, his caretakers, and so many other Oklahomans and those traveling through our state deserve a dignified space to change a diaper in public, not on a dirty bathroom floor and not in a car subjecting them to extreme weather and temperatures,” Dollens wrote.
Universal changing table
The universal changing table is equipped with an electric motor that raises and lowers the table. It can be floor-mounted or wall-mounted and allows users to lower it to the floor and then bring it back up to any height the caretaker needs.
Estimated costs for each fitting of the tables is $2,500 which includes shipping and a licensed electrician to come to the site and make sure the 110 outlets won’t be overloaded.
The changing stations will measure within the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and will provide enough space for an adult-sized mechanical wheelchair.
The need, the numbers
The press release gave information on the need and the numbers of the need.
According to the 2017 Disability Status Report for Oklahoma, 352,100 Oklahomans or 9.7% of our population (excluding children younger than the age of 5, they were not polled, kids like Max) have an ambulatory disability, and 117,600 Oklahomans or 3.3% need assistance.
55.1% of seniors over the age of 75 are affected by the six types of disabilities identified in the ACS, the highest prevalence rate was for “Ambulatory Disability,” 38.6 percent. That’s more than one-third of the population over age 75.
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