Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Pamela Combs told the Dayton Daily News that the Ohio Statehouse is one of just a handful of capitol buildings across the country to provide a universal changing station. The cost of a table can range anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000, according to the board.
“It’s a game changer for people with disabilities and their families and it allows them to have a space to be changed with privacy and dignity,” Combs said.
Combs said that, without the universal changing table, people with certain developmental disabilities and their families were largely excluded from having a comfortable experience at the Statehouse, whether that be for leisure or for work.
The partnership cemented when the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) asked the Montgomery County board to use several of its mobile universal changing stations to host its most recent Development Disabilities Advocacy and Awareness Day.
“It was just a turning point,” said Janice Rice, communications director for the Montgomery County board. “These mobile changing tables enabled those who ordinarily would not be able to attend such an event to advocate for themselves.”
Through that event, the need became obvious and the solution became actionable for CSRAB Executive Director Laura Batocletti.
“As soon as she saw the need and the difference it made for those being able to access the Statehouse, she was on board and just fully supportive,” Combs said.
The Montgomery County board’s advocacy in this area can be traced back to Jennifer Corcoran, a Huber Heights mother who founded Changing Spaces, an advocacy organization with the goal of making public spaces more accessible for people like her son, Matthew, who uses a wheelchair.
Changing Spaces and the Montgomery County board teamed up in 2020 to promote universal changing tables, finding fair success in the Miami Valley region but looking for more. Rice said the Statehouse’s new table is just one example of an ongoing “wave” as more organizations and county boards promote further accessibility in this space after decades of neglect.
“I think that if you don’t have someone with a disability in your life, you aren’t going to be aware of this necessarily. That’s where the county board comes in,” Rice said. “Part of our role is to advocate for people with disabilities so that people better understand them.”
For event organizers, the Montgomery County board has created a no-cost lending program for the multiple mobile universal changing tables it has on hand. Organizers can contact email@example.com or call 937-266-8035 for more information.
For families and individuals, Changing Spaces has created an online publicly-sourced map that lists where universal changing tables can be accessed nationwide.