Sample Letter to Senators on ADA Restoration Act S. 1881

Posted on 25 October 2007. Filed under: ADA Restoration Act of 2007, Advocacy |

In the past couple of months, I’ve seen many different on-line tools that make it easier for you to contact your legistlators and ask them to support the ADA Restoration Act. But one clear, strong favorite continues to stand out for me: that’s the one at UnderRepresented.

It occurred to me recently that, although I’ve used other tools for contacting my legislators, I haven’t used the UnderRepresented tool again recently. Since it is still the one likely to have the strongest impact on your legislators, I decided it wouldn’t hurt if I used it to write one more follow-up letter targeted at my two senators–neither of whom have agreed
to co-sponsor the ADA Restoration Act. UnderRepresented has another, similar tool targeted at your congressional representatives–but I’ve already sent mine several “thank you” emails for having already co-sponsored the bill, so this time, I only wrote to my senators.

What I like about UnderRepresented (in case you’ve missed it the last 10 times I said it at ReunifyGally):

1. The UnderRepresented tool does have a form letter you can use if you want. So if all you want is just to sign your name and move on, then you can do that. But letters to legislators always have MUCH more impact if they are personally, individually written–not carbon copies of 100 other letters just like it. If you take the time to express your OWN thoughts
in your OWN words, that shows legislators that you really care deeply about the issue.

That’s why one of the things I really like about UnderRepresented is that you could modify the entire letter if you wanted. Unlike many of the other (far weaker) tools I have seen, there is NO frozen text that remains the same for all letter writers, unless you choose to leave all of their text intact.

2. There’s also an option to fill in the information on a “message booster” form to share more information about your background. I don’t know to what extent it “boosts” the impact of your message, but I figure it can’t hurt.

My main annoyance is that their mailing list is opt-OUT, not opt-in. Meaning, the box asking to be added to their email distribution list is already checked for you–if you want out, you have to notice the box and uncheck it. If there was anything else out there with an opt-IN mailing list that was as good as UnderRepresented then I’d abandon UnderRepresented in a heart beat. But unfortunately, the very few I’ve seen with opt-IN mailing lists just haven’t been as good as UnderRepresented–which is why I still strongly recommend UnderRepresented over the others. Just be sure to take advantage of the ability to REWRITE the letter INTO YOUR OWN WORDS!

Here is the most recent letter that I wrote to my two senators using the tool at UnderRepresented:

Please become a co-sponsor of S. 1881 – the ADA Restoration Act.

This bill is critical to repairing the ability of the ADA to give people with disabilities full legal protection against discrimination on the basis of disability–just as it was originally meant to do when it was first passed in 1990.

The trouble is, in the years since 1990, the Courts have chosen to interpret the ADA’s definition of disability as narrowly and paradoxically as possible. This has created a situation in which employers can SIMULTANEOUSLY CLAIM that a person is “too disabled” to do the job (even if they have, in fact, been doing the job superbly well already) and ALSO “not disabled enough” to deserve protection under the ADA. And the courts have perpetuated this. You simply cannot have it both ways!

S 1881 clarifies the language of the ADA to ban discrimination on the basis of disability, not against individuals with disabilities. This language will hopefully preclude the courts from arguing over whether a person fits the definition of a “qualified person with a disability” under the ADA, and start addressing the discriminatory actions that are taking place, as the original ADA intended.

I have been told many times, including by people in my field and my job supervisors, that my resume and my writing skills are both excellent. But when employers express interest in me on the basis of my resume, they often seem to suddenly lose interest in me as soon as they discover that I am deaf. They never take the time to meet with me to clear up whatever concerns they might have about working with a deaf colleague: they simply and quietly stop returning my emails and phone calls. This is the kind of discrimination the ADA was originally meant to stop.

This bi-partisan legislation, which was re-introduced on July 26, 2007 (the 17th anniversary of the ADA) in both the House & Senate, is urgently needed to restore the ADA’s original intent and ensure that individuals with disabilities are members of a protected class under the law.


PLEASE make an ASL vlog (or a written blog, if you like) on the ADA Restoration Act! If you do, I’d be delighted to link to you!

If you’re interested in how the courts have violated the spirit of the ADA, then you may want to explore my growing collection of stories about individual ADA court cases.

CCD has compiled an excellent collection of materials on the ADA and on the ADA Restoration Act of 2007, so it’s well worth following their link to www.c-c-d.org/ada.

See my continually-updated list of blog entries from all over the web about the ADA Restoration Act of 2007, from July 26 2007 through TODAY, always available from the top navigation bar at “On the ADA Restoration Act.”

Also, don’t miss these links: One group of activists has posted a short list of simple ideas of things you can do to help get the Restoration Act passed. And do check out the ADA Restoration Blog for on-going updates. Or browse through background information on the ADA Restoration Act. Or contact your legislators

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