This will not shock you. House Republicans are advancing legislation, H.R. 620, the so-called ADA Education and Reform Act of 201, that would gut the landmark law that has allowed millions of Americans to participate in public life. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law more than a quarter of a century ago, and has revolutionized life for many disabled Americans.
However, the job isn’t done and many more still face insurmountable barriers when it comes to accessing private businesses. Now Republicans are trying to push a change in favor of those businesses, putting the onus on their would-be customers to force them to comply with the law.
H.R. 620 would completely change the way in which a business is required to comply with the ADA. Instead of requiring that a business comply proactively, the bill would place the burden on the individual who is being denied access. This bill proposes that after an individual with a disability is denied access she must first notify the business owner, with exacting specificity, that her civil rights were violated, and then wait for six months to see if the business will make “substantial progress” toward access, before going to a court to order compliance.
Business owners can spend years out of compliance and face no penalty even after they receive notice, so long as the owners claim “substantial progress.” By allowing a business an endless amount of time to become compliant with the ADA’s reasonable requirements, H.R. 620 removes any incentive for a business to proactively ensure that people with disabilities have access. Instead, the bill encourages businesses to just wait until an individual’s civil rights are violated before making any changes.
And what business wants, business gets out of Republicans. Especially if it means hurting people who aren’t them. And rolling back a quarter of a century of progress is just a bonus.