Defend the Civil Rights of Disabled Persons: Oppose H.R. 620
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It's Friday night. You and some friends decide to go to a restaurant. You sit down just as the end-of-the-week crowd begins to trickle in. Families, work buddies, old friends, and young couples fill in the empty booths and tables. You order drinks, then dinner. As you wait, the sounds of conversation, laughter, and faint music blend together into an unintelligible hum. It's a pleasant atmosphere. You feel comfortable. And you feel glad to be sharing this moment with your friends.
Then something outside catches your eye. You see a man in a motorized wheelchair near the diner's entrance. His legs are thin and frail. His arms are contorted and disfigured. He's wearing thick glasses and a hearing aid in one ear. An older man stands next to him, looking disappointed. You follow their gaze to the three concrete steps that rise to the entryway of the diner. After a few moments, both men turn and leave. You watch them go as the waiter arrives with your dinner.
"Hope that didn't spoil your appetite," he says, referring to the men outside. "Every now and then we get one that comes by. The steps usually keep them from coming in. Sooner or later we figure the word will get around and they'll save themselves the trouble of coming down. Makes for a more pleasant dining experience, we think."
Thankfully, the scene I have just described has become less common over the last few decades after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thanks to the ADA, hundreds of thousands of disabled Americans are able to enjoy job opportunities, working conditions, and public accommodations that were not available to them prior to 1990. But these rights did not come easy. Many men and women fought for many years to make civil rights for the disabled a reality. And in the 27 years since the ADA became law, the fight to preserve and protect these rights has continued.
Now, the ADA is once again under attack.
H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, is a bill that makes it easier for businesses and facilities to ignore structural issues that prevent disabled persons from accessing public accommodations. It absolves the bank, the restaurant, the hotel, and the grocery store from the responsibility of policing its own property and removing obstacles that prevent equal access. With H.R. 620, that burden would fall to the wounded veteran, the child with cerebral palsy, the paralyzed teacher, and the wheelchair-bound senior citizen.
Sacramento County is home to more than 135,000 self-identified disabled persons under the age of 65. These residents and their families deserve the assurance that our businesses, our schools, and our transportation will be open and available to them.
You can help by signing this petition and contacting your elected officials. Contact your city council, the board of supervisors, your state legislators, and your federal representatives and tell them that H.R. 620, and any other legislation that undermines the civil rights of disabled persons, must be opposed and defeated.
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