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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Mourns the Loss of Marilyn Golden

The staff and governing board of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) are saddened by the death of our friend and colleague, Marilyn Golden. She was a key figure in the disability rights movement and her tireless work to protect people with disabilities from legislation that could end our lives prematurely has saved countless people from an early death. We join the Independent Living community in mourning this great loss and share the following tribute from the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund in remembrance of Marilyn.

In Memory of Marilyn Golden

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), died at home on September 21, 2021, surrounded by her family. A long-time disability rights advocate, she played a key role in the development, passage, and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Her advocacy molded and shaped accessibility in the United States and improved architectural access and standards worldwide. She spent more than three decades working to see that the ADA was implemented and enforced, and teaching others the value of disability civil rights via, and beyond the law.

“Working on the ADA was one of the most important experiences of my life,” said Marilyn when asked about the impact and evolution of the ADA in 1999, “and it is something I’ll never forget. Something I treasure and value–to both have such an incredible experience and also to make a contribution.”

And contribute, she did.

From her leadership on both the development and implementation of the ADA, to the unglamourous, nitty gritty details she steadfastly injected into statutory guidance and regulation, to the people she trained and gently mentored every step of the way, our friend and colleague Marilyn Golden changed for the better how we use public spaces, design buses, trains, planes, and boats, and create equitable transit services. She also thought that assisted suicide was dangerous public policy for disabled people and her opposition never faltered, even in the face of powerful forces working for legalization.