H.R. 620: What It Means for the ADA06 March 2018
Recently, lawmakers were set to vote on a bill called H.R. 620: The ADA Education and Reform Act. While the title of this bill makes it seem helpful to Americans with disabilities, it actually threatens to make life much harder for them by chipping away at the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Here’s what you need to know about H.R. 620, what it means for disabled rights, and how you can help.
What H.R. 620 Proposes
H.R. 620, on the surface, aims to make it easier for businesses to comply with the ADA and make their facilities more accessible to people with disabilities.
Under this new bill, before seeking a lawsuit for an ADA violation, a person must provide written notice to the business detailing their violations of the ADA (that is, what aspects of their business are not currently accessible to people with disabilities).
The business then has 60 days to acknowledge the violation and another 120 to show they’ve made progress toward fixing the problem without incurring any penalties or fees. This bill protects businesses from being hit with a lawsuit from a law firm that is “just out for blood” by giving them a chance to make changes. It sounds reasonable at first, except…
Why It Matters
Although the idea of helping businesses comply with the ADA seems fine on the surface, this bill actually gives businesses a total of 180 days—that’s 6 months—to avoid any complaints leveraged at them.
At the end of this period, they must only show that they’ve made “progress” towards remedying the issue, but with no built-in measure of this progress in the bill, that could really mean anything. There’s no barometer to judge when significant progress has been made.
In the meantime, people with disabilities have to struggle to access these facilities that might be necessary to them for work, transportation, or medical reasons. After the 6 months are over, there’s no guarantee that the business will even be close to having the problem fixed. There’s no real accountability and no way to ensure that the business intends to make a change.
What to Do
If this bill passes, it would make it more difficult for people with disabilities to access necessary facilities by removing the incentive of a lawsuit to motivate businesses into making a change. It’s important that you contact your representatives and let them know that you, their constituent, do not approve of this misleading bill.
The bill has already passed in the House of Representatives but there is still time to voice your concerns to your state Senators. You can find out who represents your state in the Senate on the USA.gov website. Call, fax, and email them and ask them to vote No on H.R. 620.
While proponents of this bill claim that H.R. 620 will help crack down on frivolous lawsuits against businesses that have become unfairly targeted, in actuality it creates red tape that make it difficult, if not impossible, to hold businesses accountable to the ADA.
At the end of the day, the Americans with Disabilities Act is the law of the land and has been for more than two decades. Businesses have no excuse to be noncompliant with the ADA and they shouldn’t be given a free pass to avoid inconvenience on their part. Many people with disabilities struggle with far worse inconveniences every day due to a lack of accessibility, and it’s time their voices were heard.