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February 13, 2018

Bill Weakening ADA Has Passed

“With today’s signing of the landmark American’s with Disabilities Act, every man, woman, and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence, and freedom.”

Those were the words President George H.W. Bush spoke as he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 - the landmark legislation ensuring the fundamental civil rights of all persons with disabilities.  

Today, those words and the law have now suffered a major setback.  Congress has passed HR 620 which severely weakens Title III of the ADA by removing any incentive for businesses, organizations, and anyone who provides services to the general public to make their services accessible.

“Inglis joined the millions of disabled citizens and all of the civil rights advocacy organizations in urging Congress to vote ‘NO’ on this legislation,” said Dyann M. Roth, Inglis President & CEO.

“It now puts the weight of enforcing fundamental rights protected by the ADA on the shoulders of people with disabilities - which is simply wrong from both humanistic and economic perspectives,” Roth continued.

“If they pass this bill, they are only increasing the barriers people with disabilities have to face every day,” said Michelle Pfeffer, a wheelchair user and Inglis Resident Services Coordinator at Pennypack Crossing.  “We should be increasing involvement instead of making people with disabilities feel less a citizen and remove access to every part of life,” said Pfeffer.

“One would think,” says member of Inglis' Board of Directors, Won Shin, “that after almost 28 years since the ADA was signed, people with disabilities would be fully participating in society through work, education, social engagement, etc.  However, the reality is that people with disabilities still have to fight for their civil rights every day clinging on to the hope and protection the ADA provides,”  Shin continued.  

HR 620 Facts: 

  • Removes any incentive for voluntary compliance
  • Rewards non-compliance by allowing businesses generous additional timelines, even though the ADA’s very reasonable requirements are already over 25 years old! The ADA is already carefully crafted to take the needs of businesses into account
  • Pretends that money damages requested from businesses are part of the ADA. Actually, this part of the ADA doesn’t even allow money damages, so changing the federal ADA will not affect any state law money damage provisions
  • Ignores the extensive, free educational resources already available today to any business on how to comply with the ADA
  • Ignores the effective & extensive methods already available to courts and state bar associations to deal with a very few frivolous lawsuits or unscrupulous attorneys. We should use those existing legal mechanisms when needed, rather than deny the civil rights established by the ADA that aid people with disabilities every day
  • The vast majority of ADA attorneys and plaintiffs are seeking solutions to fix real denials of access. But the business community has tried to portray “a few bad apples” as a landslide
  • HR 620 removes the civil rights of all citizens with disabilities; it causes people with disabilities to wait for their right to access any service that all citizens have access to immediately.
  • HR 620 asks people with disabilities to wait months — and in some cases years — to be able to enter a restaurant, hotel, store, theater, or to shop online. This would never be asked of any other group;
  • If businesses are concerned about bad actor lawyers, then stop the bad behavior of those lawyers — don't eliminate the rights of over 50 million Americans because there are a handful of despicable attorneys;
  • If the civil rights of 50 million Americans can be eliminated, then the civil rights of other groups can be as well

“To think that the Congress considered and now passed legislation that once again, slams the door on the hopes of people with disabilities - reducing them/us to second class citizens is reprehensible and beyond comprehension,” said Shin.   

(photo above, © by NewMobility.com)