On Thursday, February 15, in a decision that didn’t make the evening news in most places, the House of Representatives took the first steps toward erasing nearly thirty years of progress for disabled people.
HR620, a bill that passed in the House by a margin of 225 to 192, will effectively gut the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.) New provisions in the bill will shift the burden of civil rights protection for the first time from the government to those who need their rights protected—namely people with disabilities. When disabled people find that businesses are inaccessible, they will soon be required to file written complaints with the businesses detailing the nature of the problems, then wait up to six months for the businesses to resolve the issues—even longer, if the businesses are making “substantial progress” toward resolution.
Motherhood & HR620:
Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona will now introduce the bill in the United States Senate. If the Senate passes the bill, President Trump will most likely sign it into law. So what does any of this have to do with motherhood?
Sometimes we moms, blind and sighted alike, wonder if we are instilling empathy in our children. We wish we could get a sense of how our kids respond to those with differences when we aren’t around.
As my nine-year-old daughter Sarah and I walked home from Burger King a few weeks ago, she tightened her grip on my hand. “There’s a patch of ice coming up. It might get slippery. The sun doesn’t shine much on this spot by the fence.”
The two of us, along with my guide dog Anlyn, made it carefully over the icy spot. I thanked Sarah for her watchfulness. I’d taken a spill earlier in the week, and I wasn’t anxious to hit the ground again. I’m not getting any younger; I don’t bounce like I used to.
A “Softer” View:
Sarah grew quiet while we went on our way, which was unusual for her. It turned out she was deep in thought. Finally, she said, “I’ve been thinking about heaven. I guess it’s okay if the streets are gold there, but I hope the sidewalks are made of clouds.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Well, there are a lot of old people in heaven, and sick people, and people who have disabilities. The sidewalks need to be soft, in case someone trips and falls. Clouds look so comfortable, like great big pillows. I see some in the sky right now. If you slipped and fell on them because your neighbors didn’t shovel their snow like they’re supposed to, you wouldn’t get hurt. So streets of gold would be the pretty part, and cloud sidewalks would be the safest thing. It’s too bad we can’t do that here.”
Someday our children will be our world leaders.
How To Contact Your State Senator:
HR620 will undermine the ADA and weaken protections for people with disabilities now goes to the Senate.
To see how your House Representative voted HERE: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2018/roll080.xml
Call your Senators by clicking HERE: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Nervous about calling? Don’t be. Here is a brief, suggested script:
“Hi, my name is (STATE YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME) and I’m a constituent from (Your Hometown & State).
I’m calling to urge (SENATOR’S NAME) to oppose HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act. It is unacceptable to make individuals with disabilities responsible for ensuring businesses comply with the ADA. This bill goes against the spirit of the ADA and will hinder full access to local businesses for people with disabilities.
Thank you for your time and attention.
(IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied)
Have a viewpoint on HR620? Leave a comment below.