This July will mark the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Despite nearly three decades of success, Congress has repeatedly introduced legislation that would chip away at the rights afforded by the ADA. While most of these bills have failed to gain traction, one particularly onerous bill will be voted on by the House of Representatives this week and there are 14 Republican members of the California delegation that need to be convinced to vote against the bill as all the Democratic members have voiced their opposition.
The “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017” (H.R. 620) would create significant obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce their rights under ADA to access public accommodations.
The legislation shifts the burden of protecting the right to access a public place to the person with the disability, who after being denied access, must:
- Determine that violations of the law have occurred;
- Provide the business with specific notice of which provisions of the law were violated and when; and
- Afford the business a period of up to six months to correct the problem while remaining unable to access the business.
The bill’s sponsors and supporters say they aim to protect business owners from the burden of understanding and complying with rules designed to ensure that people with disabilities can access public accommodations; they argue that the minutiae of disability law is too burdensome. (Though, in point of fact, these businesses have had nearly 28 years to comply with the ADA.) Instead, they aim to force people with disabilities to shoulder this burden and to provide businesses with information about the specific legal obligations that they are violating.