Thanks so much for all the birthday wishes! I’m looking forward to continuing my birthday celebrations over the weekend.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the op-ed that I wrote that was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (you can read it here). In that same vein, I wanted to talk today about a recent article I read talking about a bill going around the House of Representatives related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), H.R. 620, which you can read more about here.
The ADA is long, and complicated, and has as many exceptions to it as it does requirements. But in short, one part of the ADA is that businesses must follow it proactively – this means that they have to make their businesses accessible ahead of time, not after a complaint is made. If they chose not to, then they can be taken to court it order to force them to comply.
H.R. 620 wants to change this aspect of the ADA. Before a person with a disability could take the matter to court, they would need to notify the business, and give them a suitable period of time to make changes (or progress towards changes) before moving towards a lawsuit. This change is being introduced in an effort to cut down on what have been called “drive-by lawsuits,” where a business who doesn’t meet ADA standards is sued without ever being contacted by a person with a disability.
I know that you might think this sounds reasonable. But even with the ADA as it stands – where businesses are supposed to proactively comply with the law – you would not believe the number of businesses that remain inaccessible. They’re “required” to comply, but no authority checks up on them along the way. This means that new businesses are built with no accessible entry – that have a full flight of stairs just to get in. By modifying the ADA, the burden is placed on me, or another person with a disability, to complain – making me FEEL like a burden, rather than a potential wanted customer. It makes me feel like a second-class citizen who doesn’t deserve to be able to get into the restaurant, or to buy clothes at the local boutique. And it places the burden on me to call ahead and investigate every single new place I might want to go to, because if I find out in-person that somewhere isn’t accessible, it’s too late!
Please contact your representatives and ask them to vote against H.R. 620. I know that there are lot of political issues that you may feel strongly about right now, but if this bill passes, it would have a very real impact on my everyday life! You can use Resistbot (which I talk about in this post) to contact your representatives easily and quickly.