For 25 years, a quarter of a century, Americans with Disabilities Act, a bipartisan federal regulation has been scolding businesses and public accommodations to stop discriminating against the largest minority in the country.
But the scolding has not worked. It has actually done the opposite. After nearly three decades, we have a bunch of out-of-control criminals crying they are the “victims.”
Blog after blog, article after article, we see the same sentiment; poor business owner, they have been caught! Well, yes, they are in violation of a federal law, (now, in a whiny voice) but it is so hard to follow the law.
Give me a break.
Get your signs rights. Get your restrooms fixed and, please, don’t do the bare minimum of the law.
The argument (once the business gets caught of course) is, I didn’t know my parking lot needed to have accessible spaces, but I will fix it now. Hmmm, they didn’t know, but all of a sudden they are going to make a difference. Why you ask? Because they received a lawsuit that forced them into compliance. Oh, but wait, that’s not all. Once the lawsuit is served, the business cries to the chamber, or the media or their congressman shaking their fist at the “injustice” of having to pay a fine for breaking the law. Not once do we hear about the thousands of people that might have not even been able to enter their business because they made it impossible for a wheelchair, or walker, or stroller.
Now, if anyone is still following me here, let’s review with an analogy. I speed in my car. I speed every single day. For 25 years. But, I never get caught because I know the police do not monitor my street. One day, as I am speeding, I hit someone crossing the street. When the police arrive and try to give me a ticket for speeding, I blame the person walking. Not only that, my congressman makes a law that says I can continue to speed as long as the person that may someday be walking in my way again writes me a letter to ask me to please quit speeding. Thanks congressman!
This is the exact problem we have with ADA compliance. Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities surveyed over 2,784 public accommodations. Only 154 of those had parking lots in compliance. That means 95% were / are breaking the law. Does this sound like a system that needs another barrier to help business continue to break the law?
What if we were talking about a business that didn’t pay taxes for 25 years? What kind of sympathy vote would the public give them then? So, yeah, you would be angry. They don’t pay their taxes, hang um up! They discriminate against human beings, well, that’s okay, let’s give them one more shot. Poor business.
Who is this victim in this story? The law-breaking business says its them. They should be hand delivered the law that can be found at www.ada.gov with an attorney and an individual with a disability begging them to please, please follow the law. Please, please allow me into your business. Um, I don’t think so. I live with a disability, and you won’t find me begging for anyone to let me in. Is it my pride? Maybe. But more so, I am tired. I am tired of being looked at by businesses the moment I walk in thinking oh no, here comes one of them, they will try and sue me for something. So, I keep quiet. I sit alone at my table because there is no place for my chair at the bar, I think about not being able to use the restroom because I can’t reach the necessary tools (TP, water, soap). And I leave without much thought to it because it seems like it will never get better.
I thank Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities for being a pro-active voice. I appreciate them targeting law breakers. But mostly, I thank them for understanding the businesses are not the victims. These blogs that back these businesses are run by chambers of commerce who, as political donors, have a great deal to gain by approaching the issue by claiming victim-hood. It is time we get on the right side of this fight and remember it is about human beings.
So, who is the victim? I don’t want it to be me or anyone else that lives with a disability. We are too tired of the discriminating stares. But please, do not give me one more story of a self-incriminating victim. Let’s just make it right; disability or not.