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Sonoma County author HolLynn D’Lil - Becoming Real in 24 Days


Sonoma County author HolLynn D’Lil
Becoming Real in 24 Days

By Vesta Copestakes

What inspires a person to become an activist and advocate? Most of the time it's personal experience. Something sets off alarms and a feeling of being able to DO something - the desire to FIX something becomes a driving force. An accident that took HolLynn D’Lil's ability to walk motivated her to change the obstacles people living in wheelchairs encounter every day.

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act changed the way structures are built, from crosswalks to doorways, most architects didn't even consider what it would be like to try to enter a building with stairs to climb from the sidewalk to the entrance. Bathrooms were narrow, toilet cubicles small with doors that made it impossible to enter. Banks had counters built tall for people to stand at when they spoke with a teller. Water fountains were at waist level for a standing person. It goes on. Most people don't even think about these things. But if you are sitting in a wheeled chair all these things are obstacles you have to face everywhere you go. And that's only a small sample of a day filled with barriers to accomplishment.

People like HolLynn D’Lil are not capable of putting up with problems that CAN be fixed but are not. They band together with others to make change that is larger than one building, one crosswalk, one water fountain. They make change happen for everyone else who suffers from the consequences of disabilities that prohibit what able-bodied people consider a normal life.

38 years ago in 1977, a band of disabled demonstrators took over the fourth floor of the San Francisco Federal Building for 24 days, demanding that President Jimmy Carter implement Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. The power of numbers and the knowledge that demonstrations had been bringing attention to issues, influencing laws and effecting change empowered these people to demand civil rights that would impact architecture as well as individuals.

This experience forever changed HolLynn and put her on the path to a career enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act. Her advocacy has altered buildings wherever she goes and finds an obstacle to access. Her recently published book, Becoming Real in 24 Days, documents with text and hundreds of photos, the shared experience that altered people as well as structures. And true to her mission, the book is also formatted so that people with poor vision can see the photos and read the words on a page, because HolLynn knows what's like to live with physical limitations.

HolLynn D’Lil lives in Graton, Sonoma County in a beautifully re-designed home that gives her access to every aspect of her home and garden. Her activism extends to her community for whom she was the Sonoma County Gazette Graton columnist for many years, where she was part of starting the Graton Green Group, and was elected to be on the Graton Community Services District board. She continues to advocate for accessible buildings and communities.

Becoming Real in 24 Days - ISBN: 978-0-9961153 – can be purchased through her website at

Becoming Real in 24 Days table of contents