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

Add Your Organization As a Signatory to CCD’s Letter of Opposition to the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017!

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and Coalition Partners has developed a Letter of Opposition to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). CCD is seeking national, state, and local organizations to sign on to the letter.

To add your organization to the letter, please email Dara Baldwin at dara.baldwin@ndrn.org by the close of business Monday, March 6, 2017.

For more information about ADA Notification bills, visit ndrn.org

The Honorable Steve King
Chair, House Judiciary
Subcommittee Constitution and Civil Justice
2210 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Steve Cohen
Ranking Member, House Judiciary
Subcommittee Constitution and Civil Justice
2404 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: CCD Rights TF Letter of Opposition to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620)

Dear Chair King and Ranking Member Cohen:

The undersigned (number of organizations) members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and allies of CCD write in opposition to the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for Federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.

H.R. 620 would create significant obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce their rights under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to access public accommodations, and would impede their ability to engage in daily activities and participate in the mainstream of society. Rather, the burden of protecting the right to access a public place is shifted to the person with the disability, who first has to be denied access; then must determine that violations of the law have occurred; then must provide the business with specific 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 bill’s proponents purport to protect business owners from the burden of understanding and complying with rules designed to ensure that people with disabilities could access public accommodations, on the ground that this burden is too heavy for businesses. Yet people with disabilities are expected to shoulder this burden and to provide businesses with information about the specific legal obligations that they are violating—after those individuals have been denied the access rights that Congress gave them decades ago. We know of no other law that outlaws discrimination but permits entities to discriminate with impunity until victims experience that discrimination and educate the entities perpetrating it about their obligations not to discriminate. Such a regime is absurd, and would make people with disabilities second-class citizens.

Almost 27 years ago, the ADA was carefully crafted as a bipartisan compromise to take the needs of covered entities, including the types of businesses covered by Title III, into account. Among the compromises reflected in the ADA was the absence of any damage remedy in Title III; only injunctive relief and attorney’s fees are available for violations of this part of the law. The fact that, almost 27 years after enactment, there are still organizations, businesses, and companies who violate the law and deny access to people with disabilities suggests that businesses should be better educated about their legal obligations under the ADA—just as they are expected to be about the other legal obligations that they undertake in running a business—not that we should limit the rights of people with disabilities to participate in their communities.

Section 2 of this bill states that the bill was written in consultation with … and representatives of the disability rights community. But H.R. 620 was not written in consultation with representatives of the disability rights community and it would create barriers to the civil rights for persons with disabilities that do not exist in other civil rights laws.

As was mentioned earlier, the ADA has been law for almost 27 years. By this time, business owners have had ample notice of the ADA’s requirements and opportunity to remove barriers. 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? Title III of the ADA already reflects a compromise that takes into account the concerns of businesses; it does not allow individuals to seek damages for violations of their civil rights. Now legislation like H.R. 620 seeks to further erode the civil rights of people with disabilities.

We look forward to an opportunity to speak with you and your staff about our concerns. As H.R. 620 would erode the civil rights of people with disabilities, we must oppose this legislation. Please contact Dara Baldwin, Senior Public Policy Analyst, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) with any questions or concerns at dara.baldwin@ndrn.org or 202-408-9514 ext. 102.

Sincerely,

Friends of CCD:

[List of organizations]

Cc: House Judiciary Committee

U.S. House of Representatives

Comments

  1. JOSEPH LUCIANO says:

    The ADA has been law for almost 27 years. By this time, business owners have had ample notice of the ADA’s requirements and opportunity to remove barriers. 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? Title III of the ADA already reflects a compromise that takes into account the concerns of businesses; it does not allow individuals to seek damages for violations of their civil rights. Now legislation like H.R. 620 seeks to further erode the civil rights of people with disabilities.

  2. Vote! No! on! H620, All people with disabilities need the resources that is available to them to help them, it gives them strength not to give up, it lets them know they can, instead of giving up. ” Life is already a challenge in the Disability World, We Live by Hope and Strength.

  3. Martha Mason says:

    These ADA notification bills threaten the civil rights that people with disabilities were guaranteed 27 years ago. They appear to be very misunderstood by the people in Congress.
    • They don’t address the drive-by lawsuit issues, because what you can sue for is dictated by the states, not the feds. The guy from Florida who came to Colorado with several lawsuits in several communities came here because Colorado allows that type of lawsuit.
    • The options that are open to us outside of lawsuits (the DOJ, state civil rights divisions) are so backlogged that the wait times are unconscionable.
    • They put the blame of unscrupulous attorneys on the ADA and people with disabilities, instead of on the unscrupulous attorneys who help people win big money instead of enforcing compliance with the ADA.
    • The bills put the onus on people with disabilities, instead of on the business owners who have had 27 years to become compliant with a federal law. It requires complainants to go through several fussy and time consuming steps and waiting periods. The owner/operator of the business only has to outline improvements that “will be made.”
    • The other major issue around these bills, is that they create a waiting list for guaranteed civil rights. No other class of people has to wait a specific formal time-frame before receiving their rights that were written into law 27 years ago.

    Please do what’s right, educate your colleagues, and defeat these bills.
    Thank you.

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