With deep sorrow, the U.S. Access Board announces the passing of former Board Member Marilyn Golden. Appointed to the Board in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, she was a member until 2005. Golden’s advocacy work on disability rights spanned four decades, and she had been serving as senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) before her passing when she was surrounded by her family at her home on September 21, 2021.
“Marilyn was a true pillar of the Disability Rights Movement,” stated Access Board Executive Director Sachin Pavithran. “Through her dynamic leadership and skilled advocacy, she played a major role in making our world a more inclusive place by shaping legislation and policy, crafting regulations and codes, and educating and mentoring countless others.”
Golden worked on the development and enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. After passage of the ADA, she was director of the ADA Training and Information Network and developed a network of 400 ADA specialists with disabilities. Prior to and following her ten-year tenure with the Access Board, she also contributed to the development of the Department of Transportation ADA regulation by serving on federal policy advisory committees, including the Urban Mass Transportation Administration’s ADA Federal Advisory Committee, the Americans with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines Review Advisory Committee, and the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Advisory Committee. In 2014, she was honored as a White House Champion of Change in Transportation by President Barack Obama.
Golden’s work also extended to research and publications, including her role as the principal author of the Topic Guides on ADA Transportation (2010) technical assistant documents, the National Council on Disability’s 2015 report Transportation Update: Where We’ve Gone and What We’ve Learned, and the DREDF publication The ADA, an Implementation Guide (the “Bluebook”). In 2015, she served as Project Manager for a Federal Transit Administration 2015 research study, Accessible Transit Services for All, which identified strategies for providing high-quality and sustainable ADA paratransit service and offered examples of inclusive service designs that can be used to effectively meet the transit needs of all riders.
Over the last three decades, she was involved with international disability rights, including her service as Co-Coordinator of the Disabled International Support Effort and her participation in conferences and speaking engagements in South Africa, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Spain, Costa Rica, and China. Over the years, Golden directed and led many in-depth ADA trainings to help others in the U.S. and worldwide in understanding the ADA and making the world more accessible.
The Access Board sends its condolences to Golden’s family and friends.