Regarding the Preservation and Protection of the Rights of People With Disabilities Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

A2017-03: Regarding the Preservation and Protection of the Rights of People With Disabilities Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

Adopted In : 2017

Topics : legislation

WHEREAS, beginning in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, Congress worked to codify the rights of people with disabilities by ensuring equal access to education, employment, and community-based opportunities; and

WHEREAS, the ultimate expression of this effort was the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), a comprehensive civil rights law that revolutionized the inclusion and integration of people with disabilities in the United States in all aspects of American life by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of a disability; and

WHEREAS, over the last twenty-six years of the ADA’s existence, public and private entities have had access to substantial resources to assist them in complying with the law, but despite this Americans with disabilities still confront persistent physical and, increasingly, digital access barriers; and

WHEREAS, to assist Americans with disabilities in asserting our rights under the ADA, Congress included a private right of action under this law, which has assisted Americans with disabilities to secure landmark victories that have opened doors to employment, education, commerce, and other arenas; and

WHEREAS, this private right of action is now being jeopardized by a small group of attorneys and plaintiffs who are abusing this provision of the law, emboldening restaurant, commerce, and lodging special interest associations to attack this provision by backing federal legislation that will hinder the rights of Americans with disabilities to file suit against businesses that are violating the ADA; and

WHEREAS, in the first session of the 115th Congress, Representative Ted Poe from Texas introduced H.R. 620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017,” which seeks to amend the ADA to require Americans with disabilities first to send a letter to the business in question informing it of the specific title and section of the ADA it is violating, next to give the business sixty days upon receipt of the letter to acknowledge it, and subsequently another 120 days to “remedy” the violation, after which—should the business not comply—only then can a person with a disability file suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act; and

WHEREAS, this approach wrongly shifts the burden of compliance with the ADA from the business sector to the people the law is intended to benefit, while creating a greater incentive for businesses engaging in new construction or renovation to ignore the requirements of the ADA, since they would have to comply with the law only if and when a specific person with a disability attempts to access their facility or service; and

WHEREAS, Rep. Jason Lewis (MN-02) and Tom Emmer (MN-06), two members of Congress from Minnesota, have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in Convention assembled this twenty-second day of October, 2017, in the city of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, that this organization condemn and deplore Rep. Jason Lewis’ (MN-02) and Tom Emmer’s (MN-06) co-sponsorship of H.R. 620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017,” and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Representative Jason Lewis and Representative Tom Emmer to withdraw their co-sponsorship of this bill and work instead to encourage the business interests who are pushing this legislative initiative to meet with and listen to the concerns of people with disabilities and to identify any common ground that may exist, while simultaneously eliminating the adverse consequences the bill, as currently drafted, has on the majority of disabled Americans who are not abusing the law.

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