Jim Jordan's Disregard for Disabled Americans
Last month, Jim Jordan and the House of Representatives voted by a small margin to pass H.R. 620, otherwise known as the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017”. In this act, GOP leadership dealt a massive blow to Americans with disabilities. For months groups such as the AARP and the ACLU were rallying against this action because it significantly weakens the Americans with Disabilities Act. Rep. Jordan (predictably) ignored the calls of these disability rights organizations (who represent an estimated 56.7 million Americans living with a disability) and voted in favor of this bill.
What is the ADA?
The American Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disabilities. It ensures that American citizens have the same rights and opportunities, regardless of physical ability. The act covers protections for employment, state and local government services, and public accommodations. Title III, the public accommodations section, aims to make sure all areas are accessible. If there is an issue that causes a person with disabilities to be unable to enter a building, the person can either talk to the business, file a complaint, or file a lawsuit as provided under the law.
What does the ADA Education and Reform Act do?
The ADA Education and Reform Act, that Jim Jordan voted for, undermines the strength of the ADA. This new act would prevent the ability to file for a lawsuit by increasing the amount of required time before filing. All this does is allow business to circumvent their responsibility; if they claim they are making “substantial progress” in removing the barrier then they could wait years without facing a penalty. These lawsuits are in place solely to guarantee access to public areas for people with disabilities; there are no damage awards under Title III of the ADA, so business do not have to worry about paying the disabled person money for damages. If the act becomes law, businesses would no longer have an incentive to care for people with disabilities, making their lives even harder.
Over 25 years ago, with the passage of the ADA, we as a society decided that we would not tolerate discrimination against disabled Americans and that disabled Americans deserved the same freedom of opportunity that the rest of us enjoy. We need leaders who are going to move us forward, not backward.