Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Advocacy Update: ADA Restoration Act Hearing Next Week

The House Education and Labor Committee has scheduled a hearing on the ADA Restoration Act (H.R. 3195, S. 1881) for next Wednesday, January 16, at 10:00 AM in 2175 Rayburn House Office Building.

Those interested in joining the hearing remotely can do so via webcast by clicking on the link on the Committee's webpage the morning of the hearing. (*NOTE* The Committee website has not yet been updated with this information but the link to join should be available in coming days).

Show Your Support:

  1. Attend the hearing! We strongly encourage advocates to attend the hearing to show their support of this legislation. With the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lining up others from the business community who are in opposition of this bill, it's vital that we show a strong presence at the hearings to show the importance of this bill to our community. The accessible entrance to the building is the main entrance with the horseshoe drive off South Capitol Street.
  2. Urge members to attend! We encourage advocates to contact the members of the Education and Labor Committee and urge them to come to the hearing. Use the link below to find their contact information or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (V) / (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to their offices by name. Tell them that this hearing is important to people with disabilities because the ADA Restoration Act is vital to fixing damage done by the Courts to civil rights protections of people with disabilities in the workplace. View a list of Committee members.

The National Council on Disability, which advises Congress and the president, said in a report that legislation is needed to restore the original intent of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. The council proposed an "ADA Restoration Act," which it likened to the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, passed by Congress to broaden the civil rights law enacted two decades earlier.

Specifically, the council said Congress should bar discrimination against anyone "on the basis of disability," a change from the current wording, which bars discrimination "against an individual with a disability." The latter wording tends to be narrowly construed and has often resulted in judges trying to decide whether someone actually has a life-altering disability and thus qualifies for protection, the council said.

"All Americans are potentially susceptible to discrimination on the basis of disability, whether they actually have physical or mental impairments and regardless of the degree of any such impairment," said the council report, which was sent to Bush.

The 1990 law signed by Bush's father was intended to ensure equal rights for the disabled and has brought a host of changes in workplaces, transportation, communication and other aspects of American life. Among other things, companies must make reasonable attempts to accommodate workers with physical impairments, while buildings, transportation and other public facilities must be accessible to all.