|Photo © Stephen Melkisethian | Flickr/Creative Commons
[image: Black-and-white photo of disability rights protesters
at the U.S. Capitol: some using wheelchairs, some not.]
We educated our legislators. We wrote letters and made phone calls. We worked hard to get the message across, yet the House judiciary committee has chosen to take the next step to dismantle the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): H.R. 620 will go in front of the entire House of Representatives for a vote. We have no idea yet when that vote will be, so we need to renew our efforts to educate and persuade our lawmakers, so they will act to protect the ADA, and reject H.R. 620 and its agenda to confuse and limit the ADA.
As I wrote back in May, “Unless we educate our legislators about the harm of notification bills like H.R. 620 and similar state-level legislation, the ADA Title III regulations that protect us from discrimination and access barriers will are bound to become encumbered with unjust obstacles.”
H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, will weaken the ADA and have a strong negative impact on the lives of disabled people and our access to services, businesses, and full integration in the communities in which we live. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has helpfully provided a script for disabled people to use when contacting Congresspeople about H.R. 620:
“My name is [Name], and I live in [your town]. I’m [calling/writing] to ask Representative [Name] to vote NO on H.R. 620. People with disabilities need to be able to shop for groceries, stay at hotels, and use other public accommodations. It has been 27 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act. Disabled people in our district have waited too long for access—and businesses have had plenty of time to provide it. Please protect the ADA and vote NO on H.R. 620.”
Whether you use the script or tell Representatives in your own words, it is crucial that we all make our voices heard now, as quickly and as emphatically as possible. Disabled rights are human rights, and that means that everyone’s rights are in danger right now. We cannot let this attempt to roll back human rights legislation go unchecked. It’s time to pick up your phone, your TTY, your keyboard, or whatever communication device will allow you to make your opinion known to your Representatives.
If you don’t know whose jurisdiction you live in, check Contacting Congress, a web directory of Senators and Representatives in the U.S. federal government. If you can’t get your voice heard through the usual channels, ask your friends, family, support staff, or disability rights organization to help you get the message through. So many of us depend on a solid ADA to protect our education, our participation in the community, and our beautiful and valuable lives.
The time to act is now! We must protect the ADA and the rights of disabled people in the United States. Tell your Representatives that a vote against H.R. 620 is a vote for the lives of scores of millions of disabled Americans.