The battle to protect our civil rights gears up
A proposal will be introduced during Arizona’s 2017 legislative session that will adversely affect Arizona citizens who have disabilities. Similar legislation has already been introduced in the United States Congress by Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. This legislation is designed to limit the ability of people who have disabilities to enforce their rights under the Arizonans with Disabilities Act (AZDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); the right to access places of public accommodation in the same manner as all other citizens.
The Arizona legislation will be similar to a bill introduced by State Sen. John Kavanagh during the 2016 session. It is expected that the pending legislation will include a number of controversial elements, including a requirement that if a notice of a violation is made to a place of public accommodation, a minimum of 60 days is given to correct the issue prior to the individual being able to file a civil action.
Advocates worked hard to oppose the previous legislation during the 2016 session and are outraged that similar legislation will be introduced once again. More than 26 years after the ADA was enacted, businesses should be expected to know and comply with their obligations under the law. Permitting the continued exclusion of people with disabilities from the mainstream of society unless and until they themselves demonstrate that businesses are violating the law is absurd and unacceptable.
The proposed legislation would remove all incentive for businesses, social service establishments and other places of public accommodation to comply with the AZDA and ADA accessibility regulations. Unless an individual with a disability recognizes that the place of public accommodation is out of compliance with the ADA’s requirements and provides the entity with written notice in precisely the right manner, nothing will change.
If the state and federal legislation become law, businesses will be encouraged to employ a “wait and see” approach, continuing to violate the law with impunity and excluding countless people with disabilities from their goods and services. This treatment would not be acceptable for any other class of people as it will result in people who have disabilities being treated like second class citizens.
In short, the premise of this legislation is that businesses should not be held responsible for knowing their obligations to comply with a law that has been in effect for 26 years. When places of public accommodation are not accessible, the message is that Arizonans who have disabilities are not welcome. We need your help in order to prevent this legislation from becoming law. First, you can learn more by connecting with the Arizona Disability Coalition, (ADC). The ADC website, found at AZDisabilityCoalition.org includes information about the proposed legislation and steps that you can take to get involved. You can also contact your state and federal representatives, asking them not to give businesses a free pass while your right to access the community is being taken away.
The mission of the ADC is to advance the rights, choices, and value of people with disabilities through our individual and collective advocacy and education efforts. The ADC is actively working to oppose changes to The Americans with Disabilities Act and related state laws. The proposed changes would allow businesses to continue to ignore their responsibility to be accessible while making it harder for people with disabilities to take action.
We Need Your Help!
Join the Arizona Disability Coalition
• Become a member of the ADC today
• Visit our website to learn more about this important issue, AZDisabilityCoalition.org
• Follow the ADC on social media to stay informed
• Get involved and support your community
Larry Wanger has been the Executive Director of the Arizona Statewide Independent living Council since October 2013 and has worked in the Independent Living field for over 18 years. He served as the manager of Employment Services at Ability360 from 2004 to 2013. Outside of work Larry enjoys running, travel and reading.