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

Civil Rights & the ADA

Senator Tammy Duckworth and 42 Other Senators Pledge to Protect the ADA!

Yesterday 43 Senators sent a letter written by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) pledging to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) from notification bills like the ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620). This letter comes on the heels of House passage of H.R. 620 and some GOP Senators expressing support for seeing a similar bill in the Senate. This group of 43 Senators is large enough to block any similar measure in the Senate.

Thank you to our NCIL members across the country who have contacted their Members of Congress repeatedly and urged them protect the ADA! The most recent efforts by disability advocates to ensure that our Senators know the dangers of bills like H.R. 620 have all but guaranteed that this Senate will not have the votes to gut the ADA.

This letter is a huge win in the fight to protect the ADA. We are incredibly grateful to Senator Duckworth for her leadership on this issue, and for authoring a letter that so clearly states how dangerous and misguided bills like H.R. 620 are – and how important the ADA is. However, if history has taught us anything, we know the efforts to roll back our rights are not over. Bills like this have been introduced for years, and the business community is unlikely to stop trying to chip away at the ADA. We must continue to follow federal and state threats to our rights, and we will keep you updated on this issue and any advocacy needs that arise. NCIL, other disability rights organizations, and disabled folks around the country have long been prepared to fight efforts to undermine the ADA; we now have 43 Senators who have pledged to fight alongside us.  [Read more…]

Pew Charitable Trusts Reports on Guardianship and Voter Disenfranchisement

On March 21, 2018, Pew Charitable Trusts published an in-depth article on the issue of voting rights for people with disabilities under guardianship laws. According to the article, 1.5 million people are under guardianship nationwide, and in 39 states and Washington, D.C., laws allow judges to strip voting rights from those who are determined to be “incapacitated” or “incompetent.” However, there is no set standard to determine who can vote and who is deemed unable to do so. This article discusses the disenfranchisement of these citizens and efforts to create clear standards and restore voting rights to thousands of people with disabilities who understand and wish to participate in the voting process.  A circular button that says "VOTE" and has red and blue stripes with white stars

Pew Charitable Trusts Covers Voter Access for People with Disabilities

Kathy Hoell sits in her wheelchair in front of a cameraman. A woman walks to her right.In a February article entitled “How Voters with Disabilities are Blocked From the Ballot Box,” Pew Charitable Trusts interviewed several NCIL Voting Rights Subcommittee members about accessibility at the polls for people with disabilities, including Kathy Hoell, cochair of the subcommittee, and Michelle Bishop, Voting Rights Advocate at National Disability Rights Network. The piece discusses many of the common barriers to voting for people with disabilities, including poll worker training, physical accessibility, and problems with the setup of the accessible machine. It also profiles West Virginia’s challenge with the gap between voters with and without disabilities, and Colorado’s successes in voting access. Thank you to Michelle and Kathy for their continued voting rights advocacy!

NCIL Senate Letter To Protect the ADA: One More Chance to Sign on Your Organization!

Last year, NCIL sent House leadership a letter signed by 507 organizations urging them to oppose H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform act of 2017. On February 15, H.R. 620 passed through the House. Our fight now moves to the Senate, where we must urge them not to take up this dangerous bill!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAs a reminder, the original letter was a response to a letter from the business community titled “It’s Time to Restore the Integrity of the ADA” (PDF). Sent on the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, members of the business community celebrated the anniversary by diminishing this historic civil rights legislation and expressing their support for H.R. 620.

Now that the House has passed H.R. 620, NCIL is re-opening the letter for signatories and moving on to the Senate. We have updated the letter, and it will be sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chick Schumer.

We encourage you to add your organization as a signatory.

See a list of current signatories. If your organization signed on to the House letter, you will be kept on as a signatory. If you would like to remove your organization from the letter, please contact Eleanor at eleanor@ncil.org no later than March 2, 2018.

The deadline to sign on is Friday, March 2, 2018. Please join us as we fight this dangerous bill!

Organizers Forum: Sexual Assault, Disability, and #MeToo

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2018
  • 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
  • RSVP

In January, National Council on Disability released a report, “Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students with Disabilities,” which seeks to better understand how colleges respond to, prevent, and support survivors of sexual assault who have disabilities. Speakers will provide an overview of the report, the report recommendations, and discuss how it connects to the national #MeToo movement, and next steps.

[Read more…]

NCIL Condemns House Passage of H.R. 620

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) strongly condemns the passage of H.R. 620 by the House of Representatives. Despite fierce opposition from the disability community, the House passed a bill that would roll back our right to access and participate in our communities.

The bill was passed by 213 Republicans and 12 Democrats. We are outraged at these Representatives, who deliberately disregarded the objections of their disabled constituents – and over 500 disability organizations – to pass this discriminatory bill.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingH.R. 620 is a cruel and misguided bill that would weaken the protections afforded us under the Americans with Disabilities Act and create additional obstacles to seeing our rights enforced. Moreover, it would not stop fraudulent lawsuits or solve the problem the bill’s supporters are claiming to address. Nearly 28 years after the passage of the ADA, the passage of H.R. 620 is a disgraceful confirmation of these Representatives’ skewed priorities.

NCIL Executive Director Kelly Buckland said, “H.R. 620 is a shameful bill, and its passage is something the disability community won’t soon forget. Businesses that are breaking the law – 28 years after the ADA was passed – are more important to our Representatives than their disabled constituents. If this bill becomes law, businesses that have refused to comply with the ADA will have absolutely no incentive to do so until they receive notice. This is a shameful day for the country.”

President of the NCIL Board of Directors Bruce Darling said, “Our members of Congress are supposed to represent all of their constituents, and they’ve proven that this is not the case. H.R. 620 tells disabled people one thing: you are not welcome in my district. And make no mistake; we will remember this and hold our Representatives accountable.”

NCIL is grateful to the Representatives who opposed and spoke out against H.R. 620, and to the advocates who took action on this bill. We strongly urge the Senate to not to take up this bill.

H.R. 620 Vote Tomorrow: Keep Up the Pressure!

We only have one day to stop the House from voting to strip our civil rights away! The House will vote on H.R. 620 tomorrow, so we need to take action today! We need everyone to contact their Representative and urge them to vote NO on H.R. 620!

Contact your Representative today!

Call! All Representatives can be reached through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).

Tweet! Tag your Representative and use the hashtags #HandsOffMyADA and #StopHR620.

You can also:

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingKeep your message simple. Share your personal stories about how the ADA has helped you access to your community. Explain that H.R. 620 will make people wait months, or even years to be able to access our communities; and access delayed is access denied!

We cannot – and will not – let this happen without a fight. Our Representatives need to know that we are watching them, and that we will hold them accountable for their vote. They need to understand that their disabled constituents and the 57 million Americans with disabilities want to participate in their communities just like nondisabled people do – and it’s our right!

The clock is ticking – keep up the pressure!

Key Targets & Phone Numbers

It is important to contact all Representatives, but these are priority targets.  [Read more…]

Save the ADA – H.R. 620 to Be Voted on This Thursday!

The House of Representatives is planning to vote on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620) this Thursday, February 15!

Take Action Now!

Contact your Representative today and urge them to vote NO on H.R. 620. All Representatives can be reached through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can find additional contact information and direct numbers at contactingcongress.org. You can also use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters, fax your members of Congress (use faxzero.com to find their fax number), or contact your Representative on social media with contact information from Contacting Congress.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingKeep your message simple. Use the background information below to discuss the dangers of this bill, and share your personal stories about how the ADA provides you greater access to your community! And, let them know that their disabled constituents will be watching how they vote and will hold them accountable!

Note: All Representatives need to hear from us, but we have included a list of particularly important targets below.

Background Information

H.R. 620 would create additional barriers to seeing our rights enforced under the ADA and make it harder to participate in mainstream society. Importantly, H.R. 620 would not solve the problems it claims to address. It would not stop fraudulent lawsuits or demand letters, but it would weaken the civil rights of people with disabilities! Moreover, it would eliminate any reason for businesses to comply with the ADA unless they receive a legal notice first.  [Read more…]

Action Alert: Issue a Press Release and Contact the Press about H.R. 620!

The House of Representatives is planning to vote on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620) NEXT WEEK. Please, take action now!

See yesterday’s alert for more information.

CILs, SILCs, Associations, and other organizations: Please issue a press release and contact the press about H.R. 620! You can use and customize the template below.

Be sure to update the text in [brackets] throughout the template before release. The template is also available in Word and plain text.

Press Release Template

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

[PUT YOUR CIL CONTACT PERSON AND INFO HERE]

Disability Community to Hold Congress Accountable for Attacking the ADA

CITY, STATE — On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, the political action committee Disability Action for America released a statement in opposition of the so-called ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). This harmful legislation would undermine the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the landmark civil rights law for disabled Americans.

Do not be misled by the name of this bill; this bill is not an attempt to educate or reform, but an unabashed attempt by Congress to undermine the ADA and discriminate against individuals the ADA was meant to protect by allowing public accommodations to remain inaccessible. Furthermore, this bill would force people with disabilities to jump through bureaucratic hoops to secure the same rights that were promised to them under the ADA 28 years ago.  [Read more…]

Action Alert: Save the ADA – H.R. 620 to Be Voted on Next Week!

The House of Representatives is planning to vote on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620) next week! That means we only have a week to stop this terrible bill.

Take Action Now!

Contact your Representative today and urge them to vote NO on H.R. 620. All Representatives can be reached through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can find additional contact information and direct numbers at contactingcongress.org. You can also use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters, fax your members of Congress (use faxzero.com to find their fax number), or contact your Representative on social media with contact information from Contacting Congress.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingKeep your message simple. Use the background information below to discuss the dangers of this bill, and share your personal stories about how the ADA provides you greater access to your community! And, let them know that their disabled constituents will be watching how they vote and will hold them accountable!

Note: All Representatives need to hear from us, but we have included a list of particularly important targets below.

Background Information

H.R. 620 would create additional barriers to seeing our rights enforced under the ADA and make it harder to participate in mainstream society. Importantly, H.R. 620 would not solve the problems it claims to address. It would not stop fraudulent lawsuits or demand letters, but it would weaken the civil rights of people with disabilities! Moreover, it would eliminate any reason for businesses to comply with the ADA unless they receive a legal notice first.  [Read more…]