There is little enforcement of the nearly 27 year old Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the A.D.A. Every time their civil rights are infringed upon, citizens with disabilities must fight to defend those rights in court. That’s not an ideal situation, but it’s often the path that produces more immediate results in the society we live in.
The reality is that businesses, even after 27 years, continue to blatantly ignore ADA compliance. And now, a bi-partisan backed bill has been re-introduced by Representative Ted Poe of Texas that will weaken the one tool available to people with disabilities fighting for their civil rights, and the primary way the ADA is enforced.
HR 620, or the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, was born out of complaints from business owners that a cottage industry of legal firms has popped up to capitalize on the ADA by filing a multitude of what they deem to be “frivolous” law suits that hurt businesses.
So, in an attempt to “protect business owners” who are already violating the law, HR 620 puts even more of a burden on the person whose rights are being violated. If this bill passes, a disabled person must first be denied access; then must determine that violations of the law have occurred; then must provide the business with specific written notice of which provisions of the law were violated and when; and finally, the aggrieved person with the disability must afford the business a lengthy period to correct the problem. The person whose civil rights are being ignored would have to endure and do all of this before they could even file a lawsuit.
The legislation failed to pass the House last year due to successful activism from the disability community to squelch it, but under a new administration it has reared its head again.
In a letter to lawmakers, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities wrote, “If, after 27 years, a business has continued to not comply with the requirements of this legislation, why should a person have to wait more time for enforcement of their civil rights? Should an individual who is not allowed to enter a restaurant because of their race, gender or religion, have to wait before seeking to enforce their civil rights?”
You can help kill this bill again, and perhaps for good, by calling your legislators today and telling them you will not stand for legislation that weakens the ADA and puts more burden on the very people it aims to protect, while businesses continue to violate a 27 year old civil rights law. Get up to speed on the bill, read the statements from the disability community, and watch and share videos about the importance of the ADA and how we can build on it, on the National Disability Rights Network website at NDRN.org.
So, if defending civil rights for all is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about telling congress to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Call Congress, especially the 14 co-sponsors of HR 620 (7 Republicans, 7 Democrats)
HR 620: ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (via Countable.us)
Overview of Concerns on HR 620 (via NDRN.org)
People with Disabilities Battle Trump (via Workers World)
Denham bill would fight ADA lawsuit abuse (via Central Valley Business Journal)
Posted April 11, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1094: An identity group that any one of us might join at any time (Disability Rights)