July 26th marked the 30th Anniversary of the signing of the American’s with Disabilities Act. It also happened to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of CASI as an organization. To celebrate both the ADA and CASI, we were fortunate enough to have John Wodatch, Ida Claire and Janis Kent participate in a roundtable discussion in which they shared stories about the history of the ADA, CASI and Accessibility in California. We chose a completely organic approach to the roundtable, without any rehearsals or formal agenda, as we thought this would promote a natural and thought-provoking dialogue among the panelists. Regardless of the panelist’s backgrounds (Civil Rights Attorney, State Architect, and CASp/Architect in private practice, respectively), the central themes that we came back to throughout the discussion were: a) Importance of Education, and b) Inclusion.

All three have worked in their fields and in the accessibility world for many years in differing capacities. John is a disability rights attorney that led DOJ’s Disability Rights Section and was one of the drafters of the ADA. Ida is California’s Acting State Architect, was a founding member of CASI, and has had a key role in creating regulations for Chapter 11B and providing oversight for DSA's CASp program. Janis was CASI's Founding President and has been involved with CASI since then.


John Wodatch is a disability rights attorney, specializing in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  He served for 42 years in the Federal government, where he authored the government’s comprehensive disability rights regulations and created and led the Department of Justice’s section in charge of enforcing the ADA.

He is one of the drafters of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  He served as a member of the negotiating team established by President George H. W. Bush,  as the Department of Justice’s chief technical expert during the writing and passage of the ADA.  He was also part of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations that helped develop the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  He is continuing to work on the international level, assisting countries with their own disability rights laws and working to seek U.S ratification of the CRPD.

He was the chief author of the Department of Justice’s 1991 ADA regulations, created DOJ’s initial ADA technical assistance programs, and assembled the Department’s ADA enforcement staff. From 1990 until 2011 he served as the Director and Section Chief overseeing all interpretation, technical assistance, and enforcement of the ADA at the Department of Justice. Just before he retired, he was responsible for the first major revision of the Department's ADA regulations, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. He is also the chief author of the first Federal regulations implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

In 2010 he was honored with the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for exceptional achievement in his career. He received a B.A. from Trinity College, an M.P.A. from Harvard University, and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law School.

Ida Clair is a Principal Architect of the Codes and Standards at the Department of General Services Division of the State Architect (DSA). Ida has twenty-six years of experience as an architect in private practice and has been a Certified Access Specialist since 2009. She is responsible for regulation, policy, and interpretation development for California Title 24, Part 2, Chapter 11B, Accessibility regulations. As Principal Architect, Ida manages Accessibility, Fire and Life Safety, and Green Building programs in providing design and construction oversight for California K-12 schools and community colleges. She also oversees the Certified Access Specialist Program and CASp Examination development. Ida is a founding member of the Certified Access Specialist Institute and a Director on the Board of the AIA Central Valley.

Janis Kent, FAIA, CASp is a licensed California Architect and has been involved with Access in the built environment since the mid-1980s. She is designated a Subject Matter Expert (SME) by the California Division of the State Architect, a Certified Access Specialist, and has participated in developing the state CASp exams. In addition to having managed a variety of architectural projects, she has surveyed numerous facilities for accessibility compliance and provided quality control for facilities throughout the country.

Ms.Kent has been asked to speak on Accessibility at a variety of venues from the Dwell conventions in Los Angeles, to Design DC in Washington, to National AIA Conventions in Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, Orlando, New York, and Las Vegas, and the California Hotel & Lodging Association, California Public Parking Association, the Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design, and Residential Design as well as numerous business associations and AIA Chapters. She has been invited to speak at business associations and not-for-profit organizations including Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH), Manufactured Housing Educational Trust (MHET), California Public Parking Association (CPPA), ICC National Construct Symposium and local ICC chapters. Her most recent book ADA in Details – Interpreting the ADAS for Accessible Design, published by Wiley, is considered a top resource on Access used by architects, designers, plan checkers/inspectors, and facility managers nationally—“... the most comprehensive and useful tool available for anyone involved in the field of accessibility compliance. The book explains compliance with concise bullet-point summaries of the requirements that are integrated into a wealth of exceptionally useful annotated and dimensioned illustrations, all with the applicable reference sections cited.” She also has developed reference matrices for multi-family dwelling units, both for bathrooms and kitchens.

Janis is the Founding President of the Certified Access Specialist Institute (CASI) serving both those in private practice as well as the public sector who are involved with access in the built environment. Janis received her M.Arch from the University of California, Los Angeles. She was elevated to the College of Fellows of the AIA in 2015 for her work in Access and is currently the principal of Stepping Thru Accessibility in Long Beach, California.


Ernest Wuethrich is the current CASI President and a Certified Access Specialist in addition to an International Code Council Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner. He is currently the accessibility program manager for PM Design Group, a Santa Rosa architecture firm, and comes from a background overseeing architectural projects in the private sector including fueling, restaurants, and retail.  Prior, Wuethrich was a project manager for a landscape architecture firm designing public parks and lands.

In 2017, Ernest was selected to be the CASp representative for the Access Code Collaborative (ACC).   The Division of the State Architect established the ACC, a diverse 14 person panel, that provides input and feedback to the DSA on proposed amendments to California Building Code (CBC) Chapter 11B regulations affecting individuals with disabilities.

Throughout his career, Ernest has gained a wide variety of experience in the design industry and has become an advocate for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Friday, July 31, 2020, from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm PDT