JR. 907 6TH STREET,
S. W WASHINGTON, DC 20024
The Hon. William F. Winter, Chairman
U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations
800 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20575
Dear Gov. Winter:
THE RECENT PRELIMINARY ACIR REPORT ON UNFUNDED MANDATES made several positive recommendations. It also included misleading and otherwise irresponsibly negative references to the American with Disabilities Act and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. Related press coverage contained statements that were extremely damaging to the rights of 49 million Americans with disabilities. I respectfully demand that the final report be suitably corrected, and that the public media be informed of those corrections.
THE ADA, THE IDEA AND OTHER BASIC DISABILITY RIGHTS LAWS ARE SACRED TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.
ADA AND IDEA ARE NOT UNFUNDED MANDATES. They are civil rights laws which simply guarantee to people with disabilities the same equal protection of the laws provided to all Americans by the U.S. Constitution. ADA and IDEA were rightly exempted from the recent unfunded mandate legislation, and should not be addressed by the ACIR report on that subject.
FOR ALMOST TWO DECADES COMMUNITIES HAVE BEEN REQUIRED by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to make their facilities accessible. It is dishonest to imply that the requirements of the ADA are unreasonably abrupt.
ADA SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT NO COMMUNITY CAN BE FORCED to make changes which would impose an undue economic hardship. It is dishonest to imply that the opposite is true. Communities call for flexible implementation. That remedy is already written into the law.
YOUR SUGGESTION THAT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES and their families should not have the right to initiate legal action to remedy infringement of their rights is profoundly disturbing. A principle purpose of civil rights laws is to protect citizens against oppressive government. A right with no citizen remedy is no right.
THE ACIR STAFF WORKING PAPER RECOMMENDATION that “ADA requirements should be temporarily or permanently suspended, or made voluntary…” is alarming. Voluntary rights for Black people following the Civil War resulted in 100 years of Jim Crow segregation.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. CALL ON NATIONAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT. the private sector, the public media and the disability community to make full implementation of the ADA and the IDEA a first priority.
WE WILL COOPERATE 100% to achieve harmonious implementation of the ADA and the IDEA. We will work with individuals, businesses and government at all levels to create common sense solutions that meet the particular needs of different parties and situations. But we will fight to the end of time any change in law, regulation or enforcement that weakens our fundamental equality as set out in the ADA and the IDEA
WE SUPPORT EMPHASIS ON EDUCATION AND TRAINING, We believe in greatly increased efforts to inform those immediately impacted by the ADA and the IDEA-and all Americans-about their obligations and opportunities under the law. However, there must be no hesitation to litigate when appeals to reason are ignored and blatant violations continue.
WE CALL ON CONGRESS to provide increased funding that will enable federal, state and local agencies to fulfill their ADA and IDEA monitoring responsibilities efficiently. Resources spent on education about the laws and proactive enforcement now, will greatly reduce litigation and other expensive procedure in the future.
FINALLY. IT IS SELF-EVIDENT that every person in this nation has a vested interest in the success of the ADA and the IDEA. Disability will occur at some point in the lives of most individuals, certainly in the life of every family. Enabling people with disabilities to move from welfare to employment, from isolation to active participation in their communities will profit governments, businesses, families and taxpayers. It will strengthen America’s ability to compete in world markets. It will increase the prosperity and the quality of life of every family and community.
ADA AND IDEA ARE LAWS FOR ALL AMERICANS. WE CALL ON ALL AMERICANS to join us in keeping the sacred pledge: “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I HAVE BEEN TO EVERY STATE AT LEAST FOUR TIMES to research the need for or the implementation of the ADA. If there is any way I can cooperate with you to create an accurate final ACIR report, please call, fax or write me at any time.
Former Chairman, the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities
“Join us to ensure the harmonious, commonsense, cost-effective Implementation of the ADA”
JUSTICE FOR ALL