Nick Hughes

Opinion Editor

It has been 28 years since the American with disabilities act (ADA) was first put into law. I have been alive for the majority of the life of this act, and I have had ups and downs with having a disability. I have autism, and it is hard to advocate for myself with confidence that results will happen. People with disabilities are still being imposed upon for having disabilities and that needs to stop. The H.R.620 – ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 is a bill that was passed in the House of Representatives, and it in the Senate now. If passed, people with disabilities will have a hard time advocating for themselves.

Having an invisible disability makes it a little bit easier for me when it comes to accommodating my needs. An invisible disability is a disability that is not physical and does not readily show itself. I do not know how those with a physical disability do it, and I tip my hat to them for being strong enough to deal with all they must be dealing with.

With me, I had issues approaching people who oversee providing services when I was in High school. Once I got to the point of being able to get those services, I became much better at managing myself and my disability.

It is becoming apparent, however, that there are people working against the ADA and that is something that needs to stop. In the bill that was passed by the House of Representatives, H.R.620 – ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, it is stated, “The bill prohibits civil actions based on the failure to remove an architectural barrier to access into an existing public accommodation unless…” This bill is outright ridiculous. Removing someone with a disabilities ability to fight and advocate for themselves at a civil level is a horrible idea.

Think about it like this, someone who is wheelchair bound needs to access a facility and the facility has no way for that person to access them. They also do not attempt to try to help the person trying to get into the facility. Nowadays, the person in the wheelchair can file a civil claim against the company.

If this law were to be passed they could not, unless certain conditions were met that would let them. Those conditions being, according to the bill, “the aggrieved person has provided to the owners or operators a written notice specific enough to identify the barrier, and (2) the owners or operators fail to provide the person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made to improve the barrier or they fail to remove the barrier or make substantial progress after providing such a description. The aggrieved person’s notice must specify the circumstances under which public accommodation access was denied.” It is ridiculous to think that every store, company or public place should not have access for those with disabilities.

It is a common-sense issue. If there is a barrier stopping someone from getting to where they need to go, there should be a way for them to get there without having to plan and write a letter prior to trying to get in the place they are trying to get into.

The bill is disastrous and is a dangerous way of thinking for trying to help those with disabilities. Access ramps are not a hard thing to adhere to. Having ways for those with disabilities to get into various places is a necessity that the lawmakers who drafted this bill did not take the time to think of.

I do not get why this was passed in the House of Representatives, and I hope that it does not get passed in the Senate; it is passed in the Senate, it is a guarantee that Donald Trump, our President, will sign it. What needs to be done is that those with disabilities need to advocate their local lawmakers to make this into an issue at a local level. Then it will continue to grow in prominence and the bill will be something that the American people do not want.