Congress is on the verge of gutting the Americans with Disabilities Act, undoing almost 30 years of progress in civil rights for disabled Americans. The House of Representatives voted 225-192 to dismantle the ADA Feb. 15. The Senate received the bill Feb. 26, but has not yet voted.
ADA was enacted 27 years ago to require equal access of public accommodations and facilities in the workplace to disabled employees, and was the first civil rights law protecting disabled people from employment discrimination and ensuring access to public services and accommodations, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The Republican-sponsored ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 seeks to undercut this progress in civil rights.
The bill proposes cutting certain accommodations and programs geared toward disabled people as a way of saving businesses money. But getting rid of these benefits will drive millions of Americans out of the work force.
Throughout the 1990s, many disabled people were issued back pay after being denied positions because of mental or physical disability with the help of the EEOC. Once the ADA was enacted, discrimination against those with disabilities was brought to the forefront.
The new bill would prohibit disabled people from suing businesses for not removing architectural barriers that inhibit access into existing public accommodations unless “The aggrieved person has provided to the owners or operators a written notice specific enough to identify the barrier, and the owners or operators fail to provide the person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made to improve the barrier or make substantial progress after providing such a description and develop a model program to promote alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve such claims.”
It is inhumane to deny people of basic rights to get around and comfortably use facilities because of uncontrollable traits. The Americans with Disabilities Act must be preserved.