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

Protecting the ADA Continues in the 113th Congress

Mark Derry Speaks at the 2012 Rally at the AHLAThe day has come! On January 31, 2013, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) implemented the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design, including pool lift compliance. Thank you to all of the advocates who worked with tireless effort to demand civil rights for people with disabilities!

Open the guide to the 2010 standards.

Background: The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), on behalf of its members, requested an extension of the final rule on these regulations. In March 2012, DOJ granted that request and extended the deadline for the final rule to May 2012, which pushed back the final compliance date to January 31, 2013. At the same time, Congressional leaders from South Carolina and Arizona introduced legislation that would limit and weaken the ADA.

NCIL responded by joining a small coalition of disability advocacy organizations and started the campaign Stop the Attack on the ADA. We were joined by AAPD, ADAPT, the ARC, AUCD, DREDF, NDRN and United Spinal for the three part campaign, which included media outreach, direct action, and legislative advocacy outreach concentrated on leaders in Congress. 

On April 24, 2012, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held hearings on H.R. 4256, a bill set forth by Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to remove the power of Attorney Generals to implement the ADA pool lifts legislation. ADAPT members held protests during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing on this legislation. The AHLA continued to advocate passage of these bills in both the House and Senate. Advocacy outreach continued into the summer at the NCIL Annual Conference, at which NCIL members marched to the AHLA DC office to protest their continued effort to undermine people with disabilities’ civil rights. Unfortunately, the bills continued to gain Congressional co-sponsors until the final days of the 112th Congress.

Now that the ADA Standards for Accessible Design are implemented, we must pay close attention to how the AHLA responds and the work of specific Congressional leaders weaken the ADA. ADA compliance covers several areas of accessibility for the hotel and lodging industry, including website accessibility, effective policies, practices and procedures, reservation practices, property accessibility, and auxiliary aids and services. We must be adamant in our work to hold them accountable to these regulations.

Next Steps

In a recent article, HotelNewsNow reported that “The DOJ views the issue as closed, so [revisions are unlikely] in the foreseeable future. The highly partisan nature of this issue (as witnessed in the form of mass protests during the 24 April 2012 hearing) effectively forecloses any potential legislative action.”

False. On January 4 Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) introduced H.R. 203, The Pool SAFE Act. As of today it has 22 cosponsors (21 Republicans were joined by 1 Democrat, New York Representative William Owens), and there has been discussion of a Senate bill to be introduced in the near future.

NCIL remains dedicated to the campaign to stop the continued effort to dismantle the ADA. NCIL policy staff will work with the coalition created last year and hold ADA Briefings in the 113th Congress. At these briefings, we will educate Congressional leaders (nearly 60% of which are new members) and their staff on the ADA, what it does, and the next phase to increase the civil rights of people with disabilities.

We need you to continue outreach to your legislators in Congress, especially new members. On Wednesday, February 27, NCIL will hold its annual Congressional Briefing & Reception . Please invite your House and Senate Congressional leaders and their staff to meet the NCIL Board and staff at this event.

Start preparing for NCIL’s 2013 Day on Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference in July, follow our work on social media, and stay tuned! The ADA Standards for Accessible Design were implemented. This phase of the fight is over, but the effort to weaken the ADA continues and we must not lose sight of our mission to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities.

For more information on this work contact Dara Baldwin, Policy Analyst at dara@ncil.org.

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