Last week, the House of Representatives moved the dangerous ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620) out of committee, and we expect a vote on the bill this week. This bill would undermine key sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, for the first time in our civil rights law, create waiting periods for a protected class to enforce their civil rights.
Right now, the ADA mandates that places of public accommodation comply with ADA accessibility guidelines. If a person with disabilities encounters a business or space not in compliance with the ADA, they can take the offending institution to court to mandate that the institution comply with ADA guidelines. H.R. 620 would change and undermine the process of dealing with non-compliant institutions. Under H.R. 620, an individual with a disability who seeks to challenge a public accommodation violation would have to wait up to 180 days before being able to file a civil action with the U.S. Department of Justice. No other members of a federally protected class have to wait to exercise their legal rights alleging discrimination, just as people with disabilities should not have to wait months to enforce their civil rights under the ADA.
February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). While we must always be vigilant in protecting the rights of all, including the rights of people with disabilities, we are especially conscious during JDAIM how many barriers people with disabilities face and must soundly reject any regression on the legal protections that we have won.
Legislation that creates waiting periods for people with disabilities to exert their rights is unacceptable. Not allowing people with disabilities to seek immediate injunctive relief eliminates any incentive for proactive compliance with the ADA and unfairly curtails the rights of Americans with disabilities.
This February marks the 10thJewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), a unified initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide. The Union for Reform Judaism is proud to partner with the Ruderman Family Foundation to ensure full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Reform Jewish life.