#HandsOffMyADA – A Member of the ADA Generation’s Take on ADA Notification Bills

November 30, 2018 | Ellie Stitzer, 2018 AAPD Summer Intern

My mentor at my university has a sticker in her office that says “The Americans with Disabilities Act – to boldly go where everyone else has gone before.” This really is what the ADA did: when it passed in 1990, it gave Americans with disabilities protection in their employment, public spaces, and public entities, which are the same protections that everyone else already had. I was born with a disability in 1996, six years after the passage of this historic civil rights legislation, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use a wheelchair accessible entrance, accessible parking space, a curb cut, or a number of other accommodations provided to me because of the ADA. I can remember learning about the disability rights movement (on my own time, of course, since in my experience schools don’t talk about it) and realizing that I had really lucked out having been born after all that had happened. At the very least, I am thankful that I can say that my expectations and standards for accessibility are a lot higher than they were for people who lived in a pre-ADA America.

But even though the ADA was passed 28 years ago, not everyone has chosen to comply. Just a few days ago, my group of friends wanted to go out to a restaurant they’d heard about online, but when we showed up on the scene the building had a step to get in just BARELY high enough that my wheelchair couldn’t get over it. I run into these kind of access barriers constantly, and whenever it happens my friends and I are forced to be flexible and take our business to the nearest accessible alternative. But hey, at least there’s (usually) an alternative, right?

That’s why when I learned that there were multiple “ADA notification bills” floating around Congress this session, I felt like I had suddenly been time-warped back to before 1990, when people were still trying to prove that disability rights were civil rights. These bills, such as H.R. 620, which actually passed in the House of Representatives, would eliminate incentives for businesses, including large chain corporations, to proactively comply with the ADA and be accessible to those with disabilities. While H.R. 620 seems to have been stopped in the Senate for now, the fact that this bill was even introduced shows that, unfortunately, we are still at a place where we are having to fight to protect these very basic rights that businesses have now had, let me say it again, 28 years to comply with. The ADA laid the groundwork to make sure that my generation was able to grow up with the expectations we did. We need to focus on working towards complete access and strengthening the law, not weakening it like the congressmen and women who supported H.R. 620 seem to prefer.


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Ellie Stitzer is a 2018 AAPD Summer Intern. She interned at the Administration for Community Living in the U.S. Department of Health of Human Services.

H.R. 620: Reforming Disabled Americans’ Civil Rights Backwards

October 17, 2018 | Cecilia S. Grugan, 2018 AAPD Summer Intern

For 28 years now, disabled Americans have been flourishing in a garden of opportunity unlike any era preceding the 21st Century. The newly founded civil rights today were granted by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Such an act outlaws discrimination in many facets of life including employment, transportation, education, and all else that is open to the public. It was not until recent years that such legislation became controversial. Select legislative powerhouses have since been considering a new amendment.

Since 2013, the provisions of the law have led to the triple amount of lawsuits generated primarily by anti-business lawyers. Due to these results, H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act is an effort to amend a requirement that mandates a “notice and cure” period by any person claiming a discriminatory experience. It is imperative to note that no such other civil rights legislation has such a provision.

Supporters say the bill will put the brakes on the lawsuits that benefit lawyers more than disabled Americans. In opposition to the bill, disabled Americans will be robbed of remedies provided by ADA violations. Representative Jim Langevin, the first disabled American with quadripalegia elected to Congress, stated that “This bill reverses decades of progress by undercutting our ability to assert our rights under the law through the use of a ‘notice and cure’ provision.” Nevertheless, the United States House of Representatives’ final vote included 225 in favor, 192 against, and 13 abstentions. This voting outcome allowed for the bill to pass the House. However, the bill still needs to slide through the Senate and be signed by the President before it has a chance to become adopted.

If such a bill does pass, the law will require disabled Americans to provide a written notice about an ADA violation to the offending entity and wait up to 60 days before the entity responds. Not only that, but after the entity responds, the entity has an additional 120 days to make meaningful progress toward fixing the discriminatory claim. With these timeframes, entities essentially can respond over a period of six months. These strenuous results for the disabled American community symbolize the coined phrase by William E. Gladstone, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Seek out justice and call your Senators!


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Cecilia Grugan is a 2018 AAPD Summer Intern. She interned with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

URGENT ACTION! Don’t Let Congress Chip Away at the ADA!

[UPDATE: February 15, 2018]

H.R. 620 will be voted on this morning somewhere between 11:30am and 12:30pm ET (House Majority Leader schedule). Until then, please continue to contact your Representative and the Congressional Targets listed below.

The message for contacting offices is as follows:

We urge you to vote “no” on H.R. 620. We support the Langevin/Harper amendment to eliminate the “notice and cure” provisions from the bill. We do not support any of the other amendments, as none address the fundamental problem with the bill.


[UPDATE: February 12, 2018]

HR 620 is expected to come to a vote on the House floor this Thursday (2/15)! We need all hands on deck to educate Members of Congress on why this bill will harm people with disabilities. If you haven’t called, tweeted, or emailed your Representative yet, please take a few minutes to do so NOW! If you have already reached out, thank you – please reach out again.

Please join us in participating in the following days of action:

Monday, February 12

  • Email Representatives urging them to VOTE NO on HR 620
  • Save the ADA Call-In Day – Call your Representative

Tuesday, February 13

  • Social media opposition to HR 620 – #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA
  • Continue calling and emailing Members to urge them to vote no

Wednesday, February 14

  • Call your Representatives
  • Tweet your Representatives
  • Attend rallies and protests (if you are in the DC area)

Thursday, February 15 (HR 620 scheduled for a vote)

  • Call your Representatives
  • Tweet your Representatives


Messages and counter messages:

  • H.R. 620 removes the civil rights of all citizens with disabilities; it causes people with disabilities to wait for their right to access and services that all citizens have access to immediately. H.R. 620 asks people with disabilities to wait months, and in some cases, years, to be able to enter a restaurant, hotel, store, or theater. This would never be asked of any other group.
  • If businesses are concerned about bad actor lawyers, then stop the bad behavior of the lawyers; don’t eliminate the rights of 57 million Americans because there are a handful of dispicable attorneys.
  • Amendments to HR 620 will not fix the problems with this bill, it must be stopped outright to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. Only except the Langevin Amendment, which entirely removes the notice and cure provisions from the bill, is acceptable. Removing notice and cure provisions means removing the requirement that a person who claims discrimination must first provide written notice that allows 60 days for an owner to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and 120 days to demonstrate substantial progress in removing the barrier before legal action may be pursued.
  • If the civil rights of 57 million Americans can be eliminated, then the civil rights of other groups can as well.
  • Vote NO on H.R. 620.


CCD HR 620 Toolkit

In addition to the resources listed in the full alert below, you can utilize this HR 620 Toolkit developed by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD). In this Toolkit, you will find:Sample email/letter template

  • Sample call script
  • Sample social media posts


Thank you for your efforts to PROTECT the ADA and the RIGHTS of people with disabilities!


February 8, 2018

The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last year, clearing the way for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, which is expected sometime next week (February 12-16, 2018). 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!

This bill has bipartisan support with 108 co-sponsors (97 Republicans and 12 Democrats).

The House Rules Committee is likely to set the process for consideration of the bill on Tuesday, February 13th. This means a vote on the full House floor is possible by Wednesday (2/14) or Thursday (2/15). The time to act is now!


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!


Take Action

All Members of the House of Representatives need to hear from the disability community. Make them aware of this ill-advised and damaging bill.

Congressional Target List

The Members below could be particularly influential on whether this bill passes or not (updated 2/14/18):


  • Rep. Bill Foster — 202-225-3515
  • Rep. Kathleen Rice — 202-225-5516
  • Rep. Jim Costa — 202-225-3341
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar — 202-225-1640
  • Rep. Krysten Sinema — 202-225-9888
  • Rep. Luis Correa — 202-225-2965
  • Rep. Jackie Speier — 202-225-3531
  • Rep. Scott Peters — 202-225-0508
  • Rep. Pete Aguilar — 202-225-3201
  • Rep. Ami Bera — 202-225-5716



  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren — 202-225-3072
  • Rep. Luis Gutierrez — 202-225-8203



  • Rep. Jacky Rosen — 202-225-3252
  • Rep. Ruben Kihuen — 202-225-9894


  • Rep. Kurt Schrader — 202-225-5711


  • Rep. Ro Khanna — 202-225-2631
  • Rep. Mike Thompson — 202-225-3311
  • Rep. Judy Chu — 202-225-5464
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney — 202-225-1947
  • Rep. Adam Schiff — 202-225-4176
  • Rep. Juan Vargas — 202-225-8045
  • Rep. Jimmy Panetta — 202-225-2861
  • Rep. Raul Ruiz — 202-225-5330
  • Rep. Nanette Barragan — 202-225-8220
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa — 202-225-3076


  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy — 202-225-4035
  • Rep. Charlie Crist — 202-225-5961
  • Rep. Kathy Castor — 202-225-3376
  • Rep. Val Demings — 202-225-2176


  • Rep. Collin Peterson — 202-225-2165

New Jersey

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer — 202-225-4465


  • Rep. Jim Cooper — 202-225-4311


  • Rep. Anthony Brown — 202-225-8699

New Mexico

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan — 202-225-6190


  • Rep. Dwight Evans — 202-225-4001
  • Rep. Mike Doyle — 202-225-2135


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. This shifts the burden of enforcing the ADA onto individuals with disabilities.
  • 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 (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 (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.


Call your Representatives

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) 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. Use the hashtags #StopHR620 and #HandsOffMyADA. Some sample tweets are included below:

  • Tell Congress to stop chipping away at the #ADA – Vote “NO” on #HR620. #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA https://goo.gl/3SdLHc
  • #HR620 would force people w/ disabilities to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights – Vote “NO” on H.R. 620. #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA https://goo.gl/3SdLHc
  • Businesses have had nearly 3 decades to comply with the #ADA – no more excuses! Vote “NO” on #HR620. #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA https://goo.gl/3SdLHc
  • #HR620 won’t stop “drive by” #ADA lawsuits, but it will strip civil rights from people with disabilities. #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA https://goo.gl/3SdLHc
  • [insert Representative handle] protect the #ADA and the rights of people with disabilities – Vote “NO” on #HR620! #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA https://goo.gl/3SdLHc


Additional Resources


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!

A Plea to Take Action against the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017

October 31, 2017 | Christine Griffin, AAPD Board Member

I have been a wheelchair user for 37 years. I didn’t become a disability rights activist until a year after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 despite having had a disability for 10 years.  This new law propelled me in my wheelchair into a career I never saw coming. I entered law school in 1990 with a different type of law practice in mind. I was an engineer and I had patent law in my sights, but it was a legal internship that gave me the opportunity to learn about the ADA. Tom O’Neill, Speaker Tip O’Neill’s son, asked me to learn everything I could about this new law and tell him how it would impact his clients. I was lucky enough, with his help, to get into the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) sponsored ADA Network training and that summer opened up a new world to me. I met the best advocates with disabilities from across the country and I fell in love with a law. I returned to law school knowing I would be part of a national effort that would help shape this new comprehensive civil rights law called the ADA.

While I have seen access to many places increase over the past 37 years, I become alarmed when I see any attempt to push disability rights backwards. Title III of the ADA currently requires businesses to remove architectural barriers, provide accessible parking if they provide parking for their patrons, etc. The ADA turned 27 years old on July 26 but the filing of HR 620 proves that the fight for our rights never ends no matter how old the law may be. Despite the “helpful” sounding title of this bill, the Education and Reform Act of 2017, the only people it helps are business owners, not the people whose rights continue to be violated. These business owners have made a decision to refuse to comply with Title III of the ADA and when sued about their non-compliance, they convince their legislator to file a bill allowing them “more time” because 27 years isn’t enough.

I will never forget the first time we saw a bill like this filed by Florida Congressman Foley, the ADA Notification Act of 2000. Foley received support for his efforts from someone who wasn’t even his constituent but applauded the ADA Notification bill Foley filed, Clint Eastwood. Yup, that’s right, movie actor and director, Clint Eastwood. Eastwood at the time owned a hotel/resort that had access problems.  The suit filed against him was brought by a couple with disabilities under California Law and it was reported that Eastwood ended up spending more money opposing the complaint than it would have taken him to fix the access issues. A jury found him liable for non-compliance. This lawsuit pushed him into the national spotlight as a big supporter of the ADA Notification bill. Eastwood even showed up in DC for the Committee hearing on the bill and testified extra time was necessary for all small business owners who wanted to do the right thing but just weren’t aware of their legal obligations. So like him, he argued, they shouldn’t be punished by having complaints filed against them and the ADA should be changed. He even went on the Chris Matthews show that night and said that the reason the unemployment of people with disabilities was so high was because Hollywood celebrities like him aren’t asked to do PSAs saying “Hire the Handicapped” anymore. I have a hard time watching anything he is in or makes to this day.

And while that first bill went no-where in 2000, others were filed and frankly, we, as a community began to become complacent because the subsequent ADA Notification bills as they became known went no-where too. It wasn’t that long ago that I predicted the same for HR 620 and then it began gaining steam in Congress. I am now advocating for a change in our approach and it doesn’t include blaming the attorneys who file large numbers of complaints in various states and cities. While we may disagree with their style and ultimate settlement deals, the facts are that they have clients with disabilities who have every right to file a complaint and the complaints themselves are dead on black and white ADA Title III complaints. The business owner either has compliant parking spaces or doesn’t. The business owner either has an entrance that complies or doesn’t. It is as simple as that. And you can drive around every city or town in this country without ever leaving your vehicle and document plenty of examples of businesses that are non-compliant with simple Title III requirements that most likely are readily achievable. In addition, there are plenty of free resources available to these businesses explaining the law and how they can comply with it. Besides the ADA Network Centers, every Better Business Bureau or other business association is well informed and able to help. In fact, when I was attending the ADA Network Training mentioned above, other disability rights activists, including Itzhak Perlman, were making Government funded training materials and videos for businesses to educate them about their obligations under the law. Free education for businesses has been available since the law became effective in 1992.

The fact that a business waits for a complaint to drop before deciding what to do is just plain stupid and my rights should not be diminished because they want to wait for the lawsuit before complying. Would they wait for a health inspection before complying with health related rules? Would a business owner get lots more time to comply with non-compliance of food related laws while staying open and serving customers? I don’t think so. So why should these business owners get more time to comply with the ADA if HR 620 passes?

Supporters of HR 620 will tell you the bill only makes minor changes to the ADA. Not true. HR 620 removes any incentive that currently exists for a business to comply proactively. This bill will reward those who have waited for a complaint to be filed by requiring someone like me to give the business owner what could be unlimited time to provide access. If this law is passed, business owners won’t face any penalty as long as a person with a disability goes through an elaborate notification process beginning with filing a very specific complaint with the business owner, wait 60 days for a response and another 120 days for removal of the barrier to access before going to court. After that, if the business owner claims he/she is making “substantial progress” toward access, whatever that means, the wait for access to that business may be a lot longer. Is this really what we have waited 27 years for? No, it is not.

A vote on the house floor on this bill is imminent. So, I am asking all of my fellow disability rights activists and your family and friends to start emailing, tweeting and calling your Congressmen and Congresswomen right now to tell them to vote no on HR 620 and to insist that they ensure that our rights to equal access to all businesses open to the public are maintained and protected. Do it now!

Call the Capitol at (202) 224-3121. Your Message is: Vote NO on HR 620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act,” or tweet your member of congress: #DisabilityRights = #CivilRights! Protect the #ADA, Vote NO on #HR620


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Christine Griffin is the Immediate Past Chair of AAPD’s Board of Directors and current Executive Director of the Disability Law Center, the Protection and Advocacy agency for Massachusetts.


Review AAPD’s past Action Alerts on H.R. 620, The ADA Education and Reform Act

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