By the President of the United States of America
Architectural and other barriers often keep millions of Americans from participating in and contributing to our society. These barriers come in all shapes and sizes-from a six-inch curb and inaccessible bus to an unbrailled menu and uncaptioned news broadcast.
These physical and other kinds of barriers deny daily access for millions of America's elderly and handicapped citizens to jobs, transportation, recreation and public service. Attitudes and customs contribute to this problem.
Physical access often determines whether people can enjoy their rights and freedoms and exercise their responsibilities. Most of us take such access for granted. However, many disabled and disabled elderly cannot.
The first Federal legislation to eliminate barriers was the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968. To help implement that law, Congress created-within Section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973-the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.
The Board has worked to remove and prevent environmental barriers in this country. By doing so it helps ensure that disabled persons can enter and use facilities that their tax dollars support. And it helps inform Federal agencies that these facilities must be accessible from the time United States dollars are used to design, build, alter or lease them.
The Board has mounted a national media campaign about barriers under its slogan, "Access America." In May 1979 it will launch a series of national seminars on barriers for leaders in business, industry and education. The Board is also surveying more than 1,000 federally-owned and funded facilities in the ten federal regions to assess compliance with Federal law.
A number of agencies have already taken important steps to eliminate barriers. The Veterans Administration, for example, has surveyed all of its 172 hospitals and has earmarked $1.2 million for 86 barrier-removal projects in fiscal year 1979. The General Services Administration intends to obligate $26 million between now and 1982 to retrofit many of its properties. I will continue to support such efforts.
But many barriers that block people from opportunity and fulfillment need the attention of State and local governments and the private sector. I herewith call upon all State and local governments and the private sector to join with the Federal Government in a partnership to eliminate barriers which limit full social participation by our disabled citizens. Only by working together as a Nation can we promote and provide full access to all of our citizens.
To encourage this national commitment, the Ninety-fifth Congress adopted House Joint Resolution 578 authorizing the President to proclaim the third weeks of May of 1978 and 1979 as National Architectural Barrier Awareness Week and to call for its appropriate observance.
Now, .THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the third week of May 1979 as National Architectural Barrier Awareness Week and ask all Americans to do all that lies within their power to remove all barriers-architectural, social, and psychological. Together we can make access a reality for all Americans.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and third.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 2:16 p.m., April 10, 1979]