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Since the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, it has helped untold thousands of people with physical disability by, among other things, requiring a “proactive duty on businesses to remove architectural barriers.”
That word “proactive” is key, because Congress is currently hoping to change that. With the introduction of the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (HR 620), Congress is hoping to put the onus for making business accessible back on the people who may have trouble accessing them.
The bill, according to this story, will essentially make it much more difficult for a person with a disability to file a complaint against a business who is not in compliance with ADA. If the bill becomes law, “a person with a disability would be obligated to provide written notice to a business owner who has violated the ADA. The business owner would then have 60 days to even acknowledge that there is a problem and another 120 days to make progress toward correcting the violation. In other words, people with disabilities will have to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights.”
In March, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities sent a letter signed by 217 member organizations to Congress opposing the bill. Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient, who is a double amputee as a result of injuries sustained in the war, has been a vocal critical of the bill. In a recent Facebook post referencing the bill advancing out of committee, Duckworth says, “This vote is a disgrace to those who literally crawled up the steps of the United States Capitol so many years ago to secure the protections enshrined in the ADA as well as to all those who value liberty and justice for all.”
The fate of HR 620 remains to be seen, but it’ll be an important issue for facility managers to keep an eye on.
This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on the how sustainability and resilience complement each other.