The House of Representatives passed the ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620) by a 225-192 vote. We are extremely disappointed and downright angry to see this blatant attack on the civil rights of people with disabilities to access places of public accommodation and now look to our allies in the Senate to prevent a companion bill from passing.
We are grateful to all of you who called, tweeted, emailed, and met with your Members of Congress over the past few weeks to advocate against this bill and hope we can count on you again when this fight moves to the Senate. AAPD will continue our advocacy alongside you and our allies to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act and the rights of people with disabilities.
The surest way to protect our rights is to vote! With the 2018 midterm election coming up on November 6, now is the time to make sure that every candidate is concerned about the rights of people with disabilities. Join AAPD’s REV UP Campaign to get more people with disabilities registered to vote, educated, and engaged in the political process.
Visit aapd.com/REVUP for voter registration, education, and engagement resources. We’re organizing a network of REV UP State Disability Voting Coalitions – contact firstname.lastname@example.org to launch a coalition in your state or get connected with advocates already organizing in your state.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement upon House passage of H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017:
“Today’s vote to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act is shameful. That key civil rights law has helped remove barriers for nearly three decades. Yet, this so-called ‘reform’ act would lead to the continued exclusion of people with disabilities from the mainstream of society and would turn back the clock on disability rights in America. Congress should be making it easier, not more difficult, for people with disabilities to lead independent lives.”
On Wednesday, The Leadership Conference wrote to the U.S. House of Representatives urging opposition to the ADA Education and Reform Act. That letter is available here.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations.
AAPD, AUCD, HLAA, ACLU, CCD and others oppose H.R. 620 and it’s attempt to change protections under the ADA
The Attack on the ADA Quietly Moving Through Congress
With all eyes on the release of both Trump’s infrastructure sham and his Robin Hood in reverse budget this week, lawmakers in Congress are quietly advancing a bill that would roll back the civil rights of people with disabilities by exactly 27 years. Tomorrow, Feb. 15th, the House is set to vote on a bill that is a full-frontal attack on the Americans with Disabilities Act, first enacted in 1990.
If this bill becomes law, it would send the U.S. back to a time when people with disabilities were excluded from public life.
As the Center for American Progress has explained, the misleadingly titled “ADA Education and Reform Act” (H.R. 620) would:
Take the teeth out of the ADA’s mandate that public accommodations be accessible to people with disabilities by creating onerous red tape for disabled individuals seeking to enforce their rights under Title III of the law
Shift the burden of ADA compliance from business owners to the people with disabilities whose civil rights are being violated
Allow businesses to keep their doors effectively closed to people with disabilities for months—if not forever.
The bill would prevent people with disabilities from enforcing their rights under the ADA until they’ve given the business 60 days even to acknowledge the violation—and then another 6 months to make “substantial progress” (a nebulous, undefined term offering no guarantee that the violation would ever be resolved).
The bill’s proponents spuriously claim that the “update” is needed to address frivolous lawsuits, pointing to a 37 percent uptick in suits filed under Title III of the ADA in 2016 compared with 2015. Yet CAP found that this increase is explained by just 12 individual attorneys and a single law firm, who together were responsible for more than one-third of all Title III lawsuits filed in 2016.
A dozen potentially bad actors are hardly worth throwing away decades of progress on disability rights and inclusion. That’s why more than one hundred leading disability and civil rights organizations have sharply opposed H.R. 620; why protestors with ADAPT again put their bodies on the line, getting handcuffed while in wheelchairs earlier today at a hearing at the Capitol on the bill—and why Whip Steny Hoyer has called on House Republican leaders to pull consideration of the legislation.
The civil rights of people with disabilities will be severely eroded if a bill HR 620 currently moving through Congress gets passed.
Activists from the disability rights organization ADAPT were a big part of getting the landmark civil rights legislation the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990. ADAPT members are in the House Rules Committee Hearing protesting the weakening of ADA protections in HR620, the ADA Education and Reform Act (HR620). HR620 is ill-informed legislation that would require people with disabilities to jump through numerous procedural hoops before they can secure their rights for equal access and full participation in public life, and removes any reason for businesses to proactively comply with the ADA. This bill would be a devastating blow to the ADA.
“Businesses have had over 27 years to come into compliance with the ADA,” said Anita Cameron, an organizer with ADAPT who was at the Capitol Crawl protest in 1990 that led to the ADA’s passage. “The civil and human rights of disabled people are being trampled upon. We demand access to public spaces to live our lives just like everyone else.”
Instead of ensuring that people with disabilities have access, as the ADA requires, HR620 incentivizes businesses to wait until a customer confronts an obstruction and has completed the detailed notification process. Even then, the only action the business is required to make is “substantial progress” in removing the barrier described in the notice. A business could wait years without actually removing barriers and face no penalty. There would be no incentive for a business to learn about ADA compliance and take steps prior to notification.
“One in five Americans have a disability, making Disabled Americans the largest voting minority. We want our rights expanded through legislation like the Disability Integration Act-DIA HR2472/S910, not ripped away with HR 620,” said Laura Halvorson of Virginia who is an organizer with DC Metro ADAPT. “Support for DIA and opposition to HR620 are quickly developing into a litmus test for Congressional candidates; if they won’t use their vote to support us, they won’t get our vote!”
ADAPT has worked for decades to secure and advance the civil rights guaranteed to disabled Americans under the ADA. ADAPT’s history, the issues it is fighting for, and its activities can be found at www.adapt.org, the NationalADAPT Facebook page and on Twitter under the hashtags #ADAPTandRESIST, #StopHR620, and #HandsOffMyADA.
The House of Representatives will vote this week on H.R.620: The ADA Education and Notification Act of 2017
We need your help to stop it!
Big business is trying to bamboozle the House and the American public into supporting an unnecessary law misleadingly titled the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017” (H.R.620) that would make it even harder for people with disabilities who have been waiting to listen to the same programs, use the same restrooms, shop at the same department stores, and eat at the same restaurants as our non-disabled friends and family members, for almost 30 years!
They say the law is needed to help local “mom and pop” shops, while behind the scenes, powerful trade associations for wealthy corporations—everything from multinational hotel chains to big box stores and corporate coffee shops—are pulling the strings in an effort to gain support for regressive rollbacks to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). This opens the door to not only dismantling the ADA, but other civil rights laws as well.
Write your US House Representative Today
Please contact your House Representative (and others from your state) and encourage them to stay strong in their opposition to H.R.620 and any “notice and cure” bill, as a rollback of civil rights. SAVE THE ADA!
Go to Contacting Congress using your zip code to find out how to reach your House representative via e-mail, phone, Facebook, Twitter, fax, etc.
Call your Representative using the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. They will help you find your Representative’s name, and switch you to their office. If you know your Representative’s name, you can use the House of Representatives phone list.
“Hello, my name is _________. I’m a constituent from [your state], zip code [your zip code]. I am opposed to H.R. 620 and any change to the equal access protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I strongly encourage Representative [add the last name of your US House Representative] to oppose any reform efforts. Thank you.”
H.R. 620 would weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a critical source of rights for people with disabilities to architectural access in public accommodations—that is, businesses such as stores, restaurants, hotels, etc.
Removes any incentive for voluntary compliance.
Rewards non-compliance by allowing businesses generous additional timelines, even though the ADA’s very reasonable requirements are already over 25 years old! The ADA is already carefully crafted to take the needs of business into account.
Pretends that money damages requested from businesses are part of the ADA. Actually, this part of the ADA doesn’t even allow money damages, so changing the federal ADA will not affect any state law money damage provisions;
Ignores the extensive, free educational resources already available today to any business on how to comply with the ADA.
Ignores the effective & extensive methods already available to courts and state bar associations to deal with a very few frivolous lawsuits or unscrupulous attorneys. We should use those existing legal mechanisms when needed, rather than deny the civil rights established by the ADA that aid people with disabilities every day.
Look behind the media myths: The vast majority of ADA attorneys and plaintiffs are seeking solutions to fix real denials of access. But the business community has pushed the media to portray “a few bad apples” as a landslide
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 620, a bill that impacts the Americans with Disabilities Act, civil rights legislation which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, as well as accessibility in public accommodations.Of concern, H.R. 620:
• requires a person with a disability provide a business with a legal notice detailing how architectural barriers violate the ADA
• imposes a six-month waiting period to resolve the violation
• extends the resolution if “progress” is made
Please join AUCD to educate Congress on the potential impact of in H.R. 620 in the House of Representatives by contacting your Representative.
Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to connect to your member or find your representative online.
• Your Representatives may be home this weekend; consider reaching out and asking to meet with them about the ADA. If you can’t get an in-person meeting, be sure to ask if they have any public events you can attend.
• Call your Representative. The following script may be adapted for your use:
Hello, my name is [your name] and I live in Rep. [name’s] district. My address is [your address].
I am calling to talk with Rep. [name] about my concerns around H.R. 620.
The ADA is critical civil rights legislation that ensures my community is accessible to all its members. The changes to the ADA in HR 620 are not the right way to prevent frivolous lawsuits.
Please tell Rep. [name] that this constituent has concerns about H.R. 620 and would be willing to speak to [him/her] more about it.
• Share that this issue matters to you on SOCIAL MEDIA (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) using #HandsOffMyADA
Additional Detailed analysis and resources can be found on the CCD webpages.
HR 620 is expected to come to a vote on the House floor Thursday (2/15)! We need all hands on deck to educate Members of Congress on why this bill will harm people with disabilities. Please join us in participating in the following days of action:
Email Representatives urging them to VOTE NO on HR 620
Save the ADA Call-In Day – Call your Representative
Social media opposition to HR 620 – #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA
Continue calling and emailing Members, urging them to vote no
Call your Representatives
Tweet your Representatives
Attend rallies and protests (if you are in the DC area)
Thursday, February 15 (HR 620 scheduled for a vote)
Call your Representatives
Tweet your Representatives
Messages and counter messages:
H.R. 620 removes the civil rights of all citizens with disabilities; it causes people with disabilities to wait for their right to access and service that all citizens have access to immediately. H.R. 620 asks people with disabilities to wait months, and in some cases, years, to be able to enter a restaurant, hotel, store, theater, or to shop on-line. This would never be asked of any other group.
If businesses are concerned about bad actor lawyers, then stop the bad behavior of the lawyers; don’t eliminate the rights of over 50 million Americans because there are a handful of dispicable attorneys.
If the civil rights of 50 million Americans can be eliminated, then the civil rights of other groups can as well.
Vote no on H.R. 620.
CCD HR 620 Toolkit
In addition to the resources listed in the full alert below, you can utilize this HR 620 Toolkit developed by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD). In this Toolkit, you will find:
Sample email/letter template
Sample call script
Sample social media posts
Thank you for your efforts to protect the ADA and to block passage of this bill.
The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last year, clearing the way for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, which is expected sometime next week (February 12-16, 2018). This bill would seriously weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by delaying requirements that businesses be accessible to people with disabilities.
The proposed legislation requires a person with a disability to provide inaccessible businesses with a written notice of the barrier, after which the business has 60 days to even acknowledge there is a problem, and then another 120 days to begin to fix it. No other civil rights group is forced to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights!
This bill has bipartisan support with 108 co-sponsors (97 Republicans and 12 Democrats).
The House Rules Committee is likely to set the process for consideration of the bill on Tuesday, February 13th. This means a vote on the full House floor is possible by Wednesday (2/14) or Thursday (2/15). The time to act is now!
We urge you to contact your Representatives and tell them to vote no on H.R. 620!
Don’t let this bill weaken the ADA and the rights of people with disabilities!
All Members of the House of Representatives need to hear from the disability community. Make them aware of this ill-advised and damaging bill.
The Members below could be particularly influential on whether this bill passes or not:
New Mexico delegation
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
Jared Polis (D-CO)
Dwight Evans (D-PA)
Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
Terri Sewell (D-AL)
Bill Foster (D-IL)
Jim Costa (D-CA)
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Ami Bera (D-CA)
Luis Correa (D-CA)
Pete Aguilar (D-CA)
Scott Peters (D-CA)
Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)
Message / Talking Points
Vote “NO” on H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.
The ADA Education and Reform Act would seriously weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act and would turn people with disabilities into second-class citizens.
H.R. 620 would require a person with a disability who encounters an access barrier to send an exactly written notice and gives the business owner 60 days to even acknowledge that there is a problem – and then another 120 days to begin to fix it. No other civil rights group is forced to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights.
The ADA is already very carefully crafted to take the needs of business owners into account. Compliance is simply not burdensome – existing businesses are only required to provide access when doing so is readily achievable. But this bill would remove any reason for businesses to comply. Instead, they can take a “wait and see” attitude, and do nothing until they happen to be sued or sent a notice letter. This shifts the burden of enforcing the ADA onto individuals with disabilities.
Title III regulations of the ADA went into effect in 1992, providing accessibility standards for private businesses (also known as public accommodations). Businesses have had over 25 years to comply with these regulations.
H.R. 620 calls for education by the Department of Justice (DOJ). But there are already extensive federal efforts to educate business owners about their ADA obligations, including the in-depth DOJ ADA website (ADA.gov), which received 30 million visits in 2016 and 2017, the DOJ ADA hotline, which received over 97,000 calls, extensive DOJ technical assistance materials, etc., and by the 10 federally-funded regional ADA Centers (ADATA.org) that provide in-depth resources and training in every state.
Proponents of this bill have raised concerns about monetary damage awards. But that has nothing to do with the ADA, since the ADA does not allow money damages. Such damages are only available under a handful of state laws. This bill will do nothing to prevent damage awards under state laws.
It is troubling that this bill blames people with disabilities for public accommodations’ failure to comply with the ADA. Why should disabled people pay the price of an inaccessible environment, where we cannot live our lives like everyone else?
Meet with your Representatives
You can arrange a meeting in Washington, DC or in your home state, depending on when Congress is in session. Contacting Congress allows you to request a meeting with your Member of Congress. You can also check theTown Hall Project for congressional events in your area.
Civic Engagement Toolbox for Self-Advocates – Autistic Self Advocacy Network
How to Set up a Meeting with your Member of Congress – Families USA
Call your Representatives
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative.
Email your Representatives
Contacting Congress provides unique links to email your Representative directly.
Tweet your Representatives
Twitter has become a powerful tool to communicate with elected officials directly. Find your Representative on Twitter and tell them to oppose this bill. Use the hashtags #StopHR620 and #HandsOffMyADA. Some sample tweets are included below:
Tell Congress to stop chipping away at the #ADA – Vote “NO” on #HR620. #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA https://goo.gl/3SdLHc
#HR620 would force people w/ disabilities to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights – Vote “NO” on H.R. 620. #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA
Businesses have had nearly 3 decades to comply with the #ADA – no more excuses! Vote “NO” on #HR620. #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA
#HR620 won’t stop “drive by” #ADA lawsuits, but it will strip civil rights from people with disabilities. #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA
[insert Representative handle] protect the #ADA and the rights of people with disabilities – Vote “NO” on #HR620! #StopHR620 #HandsOffMyADA