Langevin makes history presiding over House

The House on Monday commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by passing the Speaker’s gavel to Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who is paralyzed from the chest down.

Langevin, who uses a motorized wheelchair, accessed the Speaker’s podium by way of a newly installed mechanical lift system, the first time ever that the podium has been wheelchair accessible.

Langevin, 46, was paralyzed as a teenager during a shooting accident. The ADA requires that nearly all public places be accessible to people with disabilities.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) lauded Langevin on the House floor Monday, saying, “No one understands better than Jim the need to commit ourselves to the cause of inclusion, and no one has been a more steadfast advocate for disability rights. It is fitting that he is breaking new ground today.

“What a powerful symbol of inclusion and opportunity [this is] for anyone who wants to serve in the United States Congress,” Langevin told the Associated Press.