Legislation criticized for threatening rights of people with dis - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Legislation criticized for threatening rights of people with disabilities


For 27 years the Americans with Disabilities Act has protected millions of people from discrimination. 

"There's not another minority group that has to fight this hard to access something," said education and advocacy coordinator for RAMP Eric Brown.

However, disability advocates Brown worry new legislation could threaten those rights. 

"It actually places the burden to prove something is inaccessible on the individual with the disability," said Brown.

He's talking about the ADA Education and Reform Act. 
A U.S. House Republican proposed the change that would prohibit a person with a disability to file a civil suit against a business that isn't following ADA regulation unless that person first sends a letter citing the specific section being violated. 

"if I'm a person with a disability going to a say restaurant in the community...I alert them...I still have to wait six months to a year for that to be addressed," said Brown.

On the other hand, supporters of the bill argue it protects the business community from unnecessary lawsuits and promotes access for people with disabilities. 

But Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth does not agree.

"This is again another push in this era to put the interests of businesses and corporations ahead of the needs of ordinary, everyday people,” said Duckworth.

Democratic Representative Cheri Bustos has also come out against the reform, issuing this statement: 

"In the last quarter century, the Americans with Disabilities Act has improved the lives of millions of Americans who live with a disability. I strongly oppose efforts to weaken this important law which is why i will be voting against the bill coming before the house on Thursday."

13 News also reached out to republican representative Adam Kinzinger. His office declined to say how he'll vote on the bill or whether he supports. 

Civil rights advocates say they'll be keeping a close eye on this week's vote and what it could mean for their rights if passed.

 The ADA Education and Reform Act is scheduled to be voted on in the House of representatives on Thursday, February 15. We will continue to follow this piece of legislation and provide updates on its status. 


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