Throughout American history, people with disabilities have often been treated as second-class citizens. Lately, more organizations have been stepping up for disability rights because the House has recently passed legislation that would amend the Americans With Disabilities Act, despite objections from disability rights advocates and Democratic leaders. This new bill will lessen protections for Americans with disabilities, undermining disability rights and making it more difficult for those with disabilities to file predatory lawsuits. The bill also forces those who have disabilities and were denied access to certain businesses and facilities to wait six months in order to see if these businesses will make progress towards giving them access to their businesses. As a result, more and more organizations have been stepping up for disability rights.
Fifty-five Jewish organizations, for example, have been speaking out in favor of disability rights. These organizations joined together to oppose the House-passed ADA Education and Reform Act. These organizations are all focused on disability inclusion and promoting social justice, civil rights, social service networks, groups working with young people and older adults, and more. These organizations include the American Conference of Cantors, American Zionist Movement, Anti-Defamation League, Association of Jewish Ageing Services, National Association of Jewish Legislations, and the Women of Reform Judaism.
Additionally, more than 200 disability rights groups signed a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities in September. The goal of this Consortium is to prove that those with disabilities deserve the same rights as abled Americans. Signatures from these organizations served to show their concerns about this new bill and how those with disabilities deserve to be heard and be treated equally. Among the organizations that signed the petition were Alaska State Independent Living Council, Children’s Advocacy Institute, Coalition for Truth Independence, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., DC Advocacy Partners, and Disability Power & Pride. A complete list of companies opposing the new bill may be found here .
Another organization stepping up for disability rights is the American Civil Liberties Union—they believe that the bill passed by the House will only make matters worse for Americans with disabilities by merely delaying lawsuits instead of reducing them. This new bill will not only discourage those with disabilities to speak up about being treated poorly, but will also delay any mandates for workplace compliance that are requested by disabled individuals.
Forcing those with disabilities to wait six months before going to court to order compliance shows that our current administration holds disabled Americans in contempt. When organizations like the Children’s Advocacy Institute step up for disability rights and sign letters opposing the new bill, they are both supporting their communities and influencing other organizations to speak up as well.