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

NCIL Policy on Civil Rights & the Americans with Disabilities Act: Overview

A NCIL Member hols a sign that says "Proud Generation ADA"Once again, with a new Congress, we see new attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Each of the past few years these attacks have intensified yet have failed to move forward. We cannot take for granted that it will happen that way in the new Congress. Pressures have grown in states that allow monetary damages for those filing lawsuits in regards to access.

Because of the increase of “drive-by lawsuits,” as they are labeled by the business community, legislators from those same states are filing legislation that requires notification and cure periods.

H.R. 620 – ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017

This bill is similar to ADA notification legislation introduced in the 114th Congress. H.R. 620 states its intention “To amend the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to promote compliance through education, to clarify the requirements for demand letters, to provide for a notice and cure period before the commencement of a private civil action, and for other purposes”.

We agree with the portion of the bill that would include the disability community in the design of any training or education.

We strongly disagree with the section requiring a very specific written notice be provided to the owner or operator of the accommodation. We similarly disagree with the provisions allowing 60 days for the owner or operator to provide “a written description outlining improvements that will be made to remove the barrier” and 120 additional days to “remove the barrier or make substantial progress in removing the barrier.

We also strongly disagree that “the written notice required under subparagraph (B) must also specify in detail the circumstances under which an individual was actually denied access to a public accommodation, including the address of property, the specific sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act alleged to have been violated, whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier to access was made, and whether the barrier to access was a permanent or temporary barrier”.

Businesses have had 27 years to remedy non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It should not require a notice and cure period to resolve issues that should have been rectified years ago. This legislation puts the onus on the disability community to monitor access and allows businesses to continue with their wait-and-see-if anyone-notices approach and to only resolve issues of access if anyone actually issues a complaint.

Updated: March 23, 2017.