Action Alert! Stop Bipartisan Congressional Attacks on the ADA!
October 12, 2017
Earlier this year, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, clearing the way for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. This bill would seriously weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by delaying requirements that businesses be accessible to people with disabilities.
The proposed legislation requires a person with a disability to provide inaccessible businesses with a written notice of the barrier, after which the business has 60 days to even acknowledge there is a problem, and then another 120 days to begin to fix it. No other civil rights group is forced to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights!
While a full House vote has not been scheduled at this time, the bill is picking up bipartisan support. There are currently 99 co-sponsors (88 Republicans and 11 Democrats – updated as of 12/19/2017).
We urge you to contact your Representatives and tell them to vote no on H.R. 620!
Don’t let this bill weaken the ADA and the rights of people with disabilities!
All Members of the House of Representatives need to hear from the disability community. Make them aware of this ill-advised and damaging bill.
Message / Talking Points
- Vote “NO” on H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.
- The ADA Education and Reform Act would seriously weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act and would turn people with disabilities into second-class citizens.
- H.R. 620 would require a person with a disability who encounters an access barrier to send an exactly written notice and gives the business owner 60 days to even acknowledge that there is a problem – and then another 120 days to begin to fix it. No other civil rights group is forced to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights.
- The ADA is already very carefully crafted to take the needs of business owners into account. Compliance is simply not burdensome – existing businesses are only required to provide access when doing so is readily achievable. But this bill would remove any reason for businesses to comply. Instead, they can take a “wait and see” attitude, and do nothing until they happen to be sued or sent a notice letter.
- Title III regulations of the ADA went into effect in 1992, providing accessibility standards for private businesses (also known as public accommodations). Businesses have had over 25 years to comply with these regulations.
- H.R. 620 calls for education by the Department of Justice (DOJ). But there are already extensive federal efforts to educate business owners about their ADA obligations, including the in-depth DOJ ADA website (www.ada.gov), which received 30 million visits in 2016 and 2017, the DOJ ADA hotline, which received over 97,000 calls, extensive DOJ technical assistance materials, etc., and by the 10 federally-funded regional ADA Centers (www.adata.org) that provide in-depth resources and training in every state.
- Proponents of this bill have raised concerns about monetary damage awards. But that has nothing to do with the ADA, since the ADA does not allow money damages. Such damages are only available under a handful of state laws. This bill will do nothing to prevent damage awards under state laws.
- It is troubling that this bill blames people with disabilities for public accommodations’ failure to comply with the ADA. Why should disabled people pay the price of an inaccessible environment, where we cannot live our lives like everyone else?
Meet with your Representatives
You can arrange a meeting in Washington, DC or in your home state, depending on when Congress is in session. Contacting Congress allows you to request a meeting with your Member of Congress. You can also check the Town Hall Project for congressional events in your area.
- Civic Engagement Toolbox for Self-Advocates – Autistic Self Advocacy Network
- How to Set up a Meeting with your Member of Congress – Families USA
Call your Representatives
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative.
Email your Representatives
Contacting Congress provides unique links to email your Representative directly.
Tweet your Representatives
Twitter has become a powerful tool to communicate with elected officials directly. Find your Representative on Twitter and tell them to oppose this bill. Some sample tweets are included below:
- Tell Congress to stop chipping away at the #ADA – Vote “NO” on #HR620 https://goo.gl/rHg5HB
- #HR620 would force people w/ disabilities to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights – Vote “NO” on H.R. 620 https://goo.gl/rHg5HB
- Businesses have had nearly 3 decades to comply with the #ADA – no more excuses! Vote “NO” on #HR620 https://goo.gl/rHg5HB
- #HR620 won’t stop “drive by” #ADA lawsuits, but it will strip civil rights from people with disabilities. https://goo.gl/rHg5HB
- [insert Representative handle] protect the #ADA and the rights of people with disabilities – Vote “NO” on #HR620! https://goo.gl/rHg5HB
- The Quiet Attack on the ADA Making Its Way Through Congress – Center for American Progress
- Overview of concerns with H.R. 620 – Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
- Comments on H.R. 620 – US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
- H.R. 620 – Congress.gov
- Save the ADA web page – National Disability Rights Network
- Letter of Opposition to H.R. 620 – National Disability Leadership Alliance
- Letter of Opposition to H.R. 620 – National Council on Independent Living
We cannot allow Congress to chip away at the ADA and deny the civil rights of people with disabilities – tell your Representative to vote NO on HR 620.
Nothing about us, without us!