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Controversial bill would delay accessibility fixes

Information courtesy of National Council on Independent Living, the National Disability Rights Network

Back in 2015, Fifth Freedom told you about a controversial bill introduced by the House, the ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620). This bill was assigned to a congressional committee last month.

Although the ADA was passed twenty-seven years ago, people with disabilities still encounter stores and restaurants that are not accessible. Sometimes a simple email or phone call informing the store of the issue will get it fixed, but in some cases, an ADA lawsuit has to be filed. Under certain circumstances, this bill would make Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaints a crime. ADA pre-suit notification letters would be illegal unless they followed a list of strict requirements.

The ADA Education and Reform Act would require people with disabilities who encounter accessibility barriers to send the business a written notice of the accessibility barrier and give the business sixty days to respond, and then another one hundred and twenty days to fix it. If the barrier is not removed, only then would the person be able to file an ADA lawsuit. This bill would make people with disabilities the only group that has to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights.

The bill would also make it illegal to send an ADA pre-suit notification, unless the letter specifies “in detail the circumstances under which an individual was actually denied access to a public accommodation, including the address of property, the specific sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act alleged to have been violated, whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier to access was made, and whether the barrier to access was a permanent or temporary barrier. Any person who violates this section shall be fined”.

You can read the full text of the bill here. If this issue is important to you, you may wish to contact your representatives in the House with your opinion. You can find contact information at http://fifthfreedom.org/findreps.

Doug Schmidt
Act Team Coordinator
The Fifth Freedom Network