The Passing of HR620
Today I came home from my shift in a good mood, but then I checked Twitter and saw that HR 620 passed.
The House of Representatives voted today by a 225-192 margin to undermine the Americans with Disabilities Act. #HR620
— ACLU (@ACLU) February 15, 2018
Just like that, any trace of my good mood is gone.
The bill still has to make it through the Senate but I don’t have high hopes. I think we should fight it with everything we have, but I still kind of expect it to pass.
And that’s the reality of being a disabled American, I guess. You learn from an early age that your life isn’t as important as money, and if excluding you or even letting you die saves money, well…. see ya!
The ADA is problematic as is. It’s not like it’s strictly enforced, and by that I mean it’s not really enforced at all unless you decide it’s worth the effort to get a lawyer and report a violation. Most of the time, it’s not.
I mean, yes it’s worth it because accessibility matters. But when you’re just one person it’s hard. It’s hard to find the money, time, and courage to call a business out. Plus, if you called out every violation you ever saw, you’d basically never have time for anything else.
That’s why it’s important that there’s an obligation to comply. Some kind of incentive. Businesses don’t want to be fined, right? You hear the sob stories of small Mom and Pop shops being forced to pay out after they’re sued for violating the ADA. And for whatever reason, disabled people are considered the villains in that scenario.
Supporters of #HR620 don’t deny that they’re violating the law—they just resent being sued for “minor” #ADA infractions. But an incline that is “only” a few degrees too steep, or an entrance that is “only” a few inches high, can determine if I’m able to access an area w/out help
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) February 15, 2018
What people like Anderson Cooper call drive-by lawsuits, I call a job well done. Businesses have had nearly 30 years to comply, so any lawsuit they get for STILL being inaccessible is well deserved. I don’t care how big or small your company is, either follow the law or deal with the consequences. There’s no sympathy from me if you get sued for ignoring rules that have been in place since the 90’s.
Side note: recognize how young the ADA actually is. Disabled Americans have only had laws protecting their rights for two years longer than I’ve been alive.
With HR 620, businesses lose any small motivation they might have to comply with the ADA. The burden shifts entirely to disabled Americans, forcing them to be extremely well versed in the laws that are meant to protect them.
Basically, you’d have to notify the owner of any barrier, and then the owner has 60 days to respond with a plan to make improvements and another 120 to actually follow through with their plan. After those six months, they can still get by without making any changes with convenient loopholes.
Can you please tell me why it should be acceptable for a marginalized community to be forced to wait a minimum of six months for the POSSIBILITY of a positive result after they’ve had their civil rights violated?
I didn’t plan to write this post today, I had something else entirely ready to go. This is too important, and I’m too frustrated. Not only that, I’m scared.
I shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not businesses are going to be required to make their stores, hotels, restaurants, or medical facilities accessible for me. I shouldn’t have MORE anxiety trying to make plans with friends or getting a job. The ADA isn’t new, it’s supposed to improve as years go by. It should be strengthened with better ways to enforce it in place.
Instead, our representatives voted to gut it.
I deserve access. I deserve the chance to go to out for a meal or to see a movie without panicking that there will be a step keeping me out, a doorway a few inches too narrow, or a ramp that isn’t safe. Abled people never have to think twice when going somewhere new, so why should I? Why is it okay that I’m excluded from so many experiences that my peers are guaranteed?
The answer is that businesses are valued more than the lives of disabled people. Businesses equal money, and to our President, lawmakers, and business owners, disabled people are burdens that cut into profits.
Today we took a huge step back. It’s 2018 and my government continues to tell me that my right to accessibility doesn’t matter. That my place in society doesn’t matter. My life doesn’t matter.
But they’re wrong. My life matters. Disabled. lives. matter. Accessibility matters.