ADA advocates worried about new Republican bill

Feb 20, 2018

A recently passed House bill has many in the disability community speaking out. Advocates say the ADA Education and Reform Act would gut many provisions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ericka Jones, a Systems Advocate with the  Center for Disability Rights says now when a person files a complaint about a business not being accessible, it is reviewed and resolved fairly soon. However, this new bill would give businesses 180 days to act.

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

Credit File Photo / National Public Radio

Jones says you can only find out so much about a business on the internet and that it is frustrating to only find out a place is not 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," she says. "What do you do at that point? That’s humiliating."

Jones believes if this were happening to another minority group there would be more outrage, adding that some people sympathize with the businesses. She says all 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 are not a customer of the place; they notice from afar it is not accessible.

Jones says bills like these should not be passed just because of a few bad people and that the fault for those lawsuits should be on the lawyers filing them.