WXXI AM News

Center for Disability Rights says bill passed by House will undermine the ADA

Feb 19, 2018

A recently passed House bill has many in the disability community speaking out.

Advocates say that the ADA Education and Reform Act would gut many provisions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ericka Jones is a Systems Advocate with the  Center for Disability Rights says now, when a person files a complaint about a business not being accessible, it’s reviewed and resolved fairly soon.

But this new bill would give businesses 180 days to act.

"That’s six months. Six months that a person doesn’t have access to a restaurant or movie theater or whatever business it is."

Jones says you can only find out so much about a business on the internet, and that its frustrating to only find out a place isn’t accessible once you get there.

"Imagine you’re going on a date. You haven’t met this person and you show up and you’re a wheelchair user but there’s no ramp. And there’s several steps to get in. What do you do at that point, that’s humiliating."

Jones believes if this was happening to another minority group there would be more outrage, adding that some people sympathize with the businesses, when all that complaints are trying to do is make places more accessible for everyone.

She says there is an idea out there that, “every disabled person is just waiting for an opportunity to use what is being called "drive by lawsuits."

A drive by lawsuit is when someone sues a company under the Americans with Disabilities Act even if they aren’t a customer of the place, they just notice from afar it’s not accessible.

Jones says bills like these shouldn’t be passed just because of a few bad people, and the fault for those “drive by lawsuits” should be on the lawyers filing them.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.