Last September, National Association of the Deaf announced that the Education and Reform Act of 2017 is an “alarming bill that would weaken the protection we have under the ADA”.

The proposed bill would force customers and clients to write a letter notifying the business owner or host of any place that they were denied access and explain how their access were denied. Under current ADA law, customers and clients do not have to write a letter and can, at any time, file a complaint and/or sue that business or host.

This bill is not a new bill; in fact, it is a copy and paste of a previous bill called “Lawsuit Clarification Act of 2017, HR 1493, and that bill failed last year.

Fast forward to now.

It appears that the Education and Reform Act of 2017 is gaining traction with numerous of co-sponsors of the bill, in both Congress and the Senate, that many non-governmental organizations are trying to get the public aware of it and as well as preparing for a fight against this bill.

Astonishingly, the bill has 108 cosponsors (97 Republicans and 11 Democrats) in the House of Representatives, and we expect next week’s vote to be very close.

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund vigorously opposes this bill and believes that “HR 620 would weaken the American with Disabilities Act”. In fact, they list on their website that HR 620 would, “remove any incentive for voluntary compliance, reward non-compliance “businesses” by allowing extensions and even longer timelines to meet their ADA “requirements”, ignores the extensive, free educational resources already available today to any business on how to comply with the ADA, and will ignore the effect and extensive methods already available to courts and state bar associations to deal with rare lawsuits or unscrupulous attorneys.”.

President Howard Rosenblum of the NAD announces via Facebook:

“This does not make sense because the ADA was passed in 1990, 27 years ago, and everyone should already know how to follow the ADA after so many years. The bill failed last year yet people are trying this again. We must stop them by letting them know these two bills are not okay.” ~President Howard of NAD

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund stated:

 H.R. 620 erodes the balancing of interests in the ADA by removing incentives for businesses to comply with the law, and by placing excessive burdens on individuals with disabilities. …

… Once notice is received, the legislation would grant the business up to six months to make “substantial progress” in removing the barrier described in the notice. This means a business could spend years without actually removing barriers to come into compliance with longstanding access standards, and face no penalty, so long as “substantial progress” can be claimed. Even our largest and most ubiquitous corporations—from Wal-Mart to Starbucks—would be entitled to these exemptions.

As you noticed, the public is using #ProtectADA and #HandsOffMyADA to share stories and to spread the word to make the public aware of what’s happening with this bill.

Sean Gerlis, an deaf advocate and an ADA Coordinator who works for the Board of Elections in the City of New York, tells us in ASL his thoughts on the Education and Reform Act of 2017.


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Thomsen Young

Founder of SG