Deaf Rights, ADA, in Peril? Or about to advance? A bit of both …

Posted on 6 August 2008. Filed under: Advocacy, Audism | Tags: , , , , |

Will these changes threaten our rights as Deaf US citizens, or will they help protect them? Well, it’s a mixed bag: some changes will actually help, but others will set us back decades. Either way, I urge people to be involved. Educate yourself by following the links provided below. Write your comments and submit them to the US Department of Justice and to DREDF (NOT to me). And BLOG ABOUT THIS (or vlog) to encourage other people to do the same.

ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!

From the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
and other disability rights attorneys and advocates
Department of Justice Proposes Vast Changes in ADA Regulations

YOUR COMMENTS URGENTLY NEEDED!

Please forward this alert widely
The deadline for comments is August 18, 2008.
TO SEE DRAFT COMMENTS, visit http://www.dredf.org/DOJ_NPRM

The Department of Justice recently issued major proposed revisions to its regulations implementing Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Some of DOJ’s changes are excellent, and urgently needed. It is important that the disability community laud these, to support DOJ against industry attack. Good proposals include adoption of the new 2004 ADAAG, stronger hotel reservation and ticketing provisions, recognition of psychiatric service animals, additional companion seating in theaters and stadiums, and stronger provisions for effective communication for people with hearing, visual, and speech disabilities.
However, there are also many draconian changes that would radically reduce the rights of people with disabilities. For example, DOJ proposes:

• A significant weakening of the readily achievable barrier removal requirement for public accommodations;
• A significant reduction of elements required to be accessible in state and local government facilities;
• An exemption for all existing facilities from the new recreation and playground rules;
• and many others.

DOJ must receive a flood of comments from the disability community in favor of a strong, comprehensive ADA. Comments must defend the principle of individual, case-by-case assessment, which DOJ is largely abandoning in favor of many blanket reductions. We must remind DOJ that the ADA is already carefully crafted to take the needs of covered entities into account, and that reductions to our civil rights would be a devastating blow to our daily lives.
Extensive draft comments, by topic, are available on the DREDF website to help you write your own comments — click here. The list of topics is also below. The website also has information about how to file your comments, as well as tips on commenting and a link to the proposed regulations.

Important: Your comments will have the most impact if you revise our drafts to add your own thoughts, and especially your own personal experiences or those of friends, family, colleagues or clients with disabilities.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS!
TOPICS IN THE DOJ PROPOSALS ARE:
• Safe Harbor
▪ One-percent (1%) safe harbor for barrier removal in existing facilities for qualified small businesses
▪ “Reasonable number but at least one” in program access under Title II
▪ Exemption for facilities that allegedly comply with the 1991 ADAAG
▪ Path of travel
• Definition of “existing facility”
• Comments on the Regulatory Impact Analysis
• Title II Complaint Process
• Communications; auxiliary aids and services
• Service animals
• Hotel reservations policies
• Seating and ticketing in assembly areas
• Medical care facilities
• Wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices
• Prisons, jails and the Prison Litigation Reform Act
• Social service agencies, residential facilities, transient lodging, and dormitories
• Recreation Facilities and Play Areas
▪ Recreation facilities and Play areas (General Comments)
▪ Saunas and steam rooms
▪ Swimming pools
▪ Exercise equipment
▪ Team player and seating areas
▪ Areas of sport activity
▪ Boating and fishing
▪ Golf
▪ Miniature Golf
▪ Topics not addressed

• Questions concerning specific 2004 ADAAG Standards
▪ General comments
▪ Side reach
▪ Water closet clearances in single-user toilet rooms with in-swinging doors
▪ Elevators
▪ Stairs
▪ Accessible routes to stages
▪ Accessible attorney areas and witness stands
▪ Assistive listening system
▪ Accessible routes to golf tees and greens

• Work Areas
• Maintenance of accessible features
• ATMs
• Examinations and courses
• Triggering Date

The deadline for comments is August 18, 2008
.
TO SEE DRAFT COMMENTS, visit http://www.dredf.org/DOJ_NPRM

[Thank you to Rosaline Crawford for her comment below; I have now revised the introductory paragraph accordingly.]

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4 Responses to “Deaf Rights, ADA, in Peril? Or about to advance? A bit of both …”

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Thank you for helping to spread the word about the proposed new ADA rules. People should submit their comments to the US Department of Justice (not DREDF). The DREDF webpage has information about “How to File Comments.” Comments can be filed using the Department of Justice electronic e-mail filing system (one link for ADA Title II and another link for ADA Title III comments) or by mail.

Can you point out the specific changes that are Deaf-related, so we can all be aware of what is happening?

I’m not worried about ADA falling apart. ADA was a good lesson for people like us. I have group homes where deafies can get sanctuary from the turbulent deaf world and theyre all ADA compliant.

The regulations that primarily impact the deaf and hard of hearing community can be found in the section on “Communications” at
http://www.dredf.org/DOJ_NPRM/communications.shtml
Some of the proposed changes may be viewed positively, such as identifying different kinds of interpreters. Other proposed changes may be viewed differently, such as the inclusion, definition, and guidance for Video Interpreting Services. The “Communication” section also contains the questions and sample responses to specific questions asked about captioned movie access and stadium captioning.


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