Tuesday, July 24, 2007

ADA Restoration Act

The ADA may not be a perfect civil rights document, but its initial imperfections have been inflated tenfold by the changes in the way it has been interpreted. It is no longer being enacted in the way it was intended. Right now the ADA still offers people with disabilities important rights that without their status as equal citizens would be jeopardized. Without the ADA there would not be an increasing number of curb cuts in every city, or public TTYs in public buildings, or new voting machines that have given people their right to vote privately for the first time in their life.

What the ADA has been unable to accomplish has been in large part due to its major flaw - that to get the ADA enforced one has to go to court before a judge who will decide what the ADA says. Judges across the nation have interpreted the ADA and what constitutes a person with a disability differently. They are not ADA experts. They have generally decided to look at the language of the ADA as exact - the law must be followed precisely. But when written the ADA was written as a guideline to given people an idea of what made sense. Every situation that could confront a person with a disability could not be described in one document - so the ADA only suggests broad parameters.

Please, if the ADA is as important to you as it is to me, read the following and act!

Ask Your Representative to be an
Original Cosponsor of the ADA Restoration Act of 2007!


This Thursday, July 26, marks the 17th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). On this day, the ADA Restoration Act of 2007 will be introduced by chief cosponsors Representatives Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to restore protections for Americans with disabilities under the landmark law.

Despite the ADA's intent to create a level playing field in the workplace, the full promise of the law has never been fulfilled. In recent years, the Supreme Court has slowly chipped away at the broad protections of the ADA and created a new set of barriers to employment for people with disabilities.

Courts across the country have been quick to side with businesses and employers, deciding against people with disabilities who challenge employment discrimination 97% of the time, often before the person has even had a chance to show that the employer treated them unfairly. Indeed, courts have created an absurd catch-22 by allowing employers to say a person is too disabled to do the job, but not disabled enough to be protected by the ADA. For example, people with conditions like epilepsy, diabetes, hearing loss, and mental illness that manage their disabilities with medication, prosthetics, hearing aids, etc. or mitigating measures are viewed as too functional to have a disability and are denied the ADA's protection from employment discrimination.

This is not what Congress intended when it passed the law and President George H.W. Bush enacted it into law in 1990. The law was intended to be broadly - not narrowly - interpreted.

The bipartisan ADA Restoration Act will amend the ADA to require courts to focus on whether a person has experienced discrimination "on the basis of disability," rather than requiring individuals with disabilities to first demonstrate that they are substantially limited in some major life activity.

Disability advocates have been working tirelessly for the last several years to restore the original intent of the ADA by meeting with Members of Congress, collecting stories about disability discrimination and ADA success stories, issuing a petition to support the ADA Restoration Act, and leading a bus tour that has traveled more than 13,000 miles in 28 states. We need your support now more than ever.


On July 20, a "Dear Colleague" letter was sent by Representatives Hoyer and Sensenbrenner to all members of the House of Representatives seeking original cosponsors before the bill is introduced next week on July 26.

Take Action

Call your Representative TODAY and ask him/her to cosponsor the ADA Restoration Act now! Our champions need to have as many original cosponsors as possible to make a good showing on introduction.

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