St. Cloud State University Applied Clinical Research graduate student Linda Hood is a marathoner and a climber of Mount Kilimanjaro, but after losing her ability to walk in 2018, she set her sights on a different kind of goal: accessibility for the disabled.
Hood became paralyzed in 2018 due to a rare autoimmune disease, but she didn’t let that stand in her way of doing the most with her life. She was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota in 2022 and has used her platform to advocate for other disabled adults. One of her goals was to get adult changing tables in public restrooms and in May, Hood was invited to the state capitol to witness Minnesota Governor Tim Walz sign a new accessibility bill into law mandating all new public buildings to have adult changing tables.
Without adult changing tables, disabled adults must either remain unchanged while in public or be changed by their caregiver on the bathroom floor. Bathroom floors are unsanitary and are not suitable places for a person to be changed, which has been something many disabled adults have had to unfortunately deal with in the past. The changing tables are built to be able to support the weight of adults and can change heights to allow for ease of use. Having adult changing table in public restrooms increases accessibility by ultimately supporting a basic human function. The bill goes into effect in January 2024 and, in addition to the new requirements for newly built public spaces, will include up to $20,000 in incentives for private businesses to update their restrooms.
Later this June, Hood will meet with Congresswoman Betty McCollum in Washington D.C. where she will be continuing her fight for adult changing tables in disability bathrooms on a federal level.