Friday, September 24, 2010

Those pesky disabled folks and their A.D.A

I can’t tell you how many times I have read or heard about the Americans with Disabilities Act being blamed for problems. The costs for a construction project sky-rockets due to A.D.A regulations. A project is delayed, because it turns out that there were A.D.A regs that were overlooked - and costs will also go up. A good idea, like toilet kiosks in New York City, is shelved because it violates - yes - the A.D.A. Or making it A.D.A-compatible would be too expensive.
Damn that A.D.A. Things would be so much better, easier, less costly without it.

This is pretty much the message I get. In the mainstream media, I rarely see stories about how the A.D.A, which was enacted about 20 years ago, makes life easier for those of us who are disabled. The stories are always about how expensive, how restrictive, how much of a hassle the accommodation law is.

Sometimes the A.D.A doesn’t make my life easier. I get angry when I get a hotel room and find that the bathroom has a tub - rather than a walk-in shower - with bars on the walls. I assume this passes muster with the A.D.A, but I can’t use it. And I don’t think there about many people in wheelchairs who can.

But I was reminded recently when I read an article that the A.D.A has even more of a black eye - with help from the disabled. The story in the Los Angeles Times was about a guy in a wheelchair going around and taking pictures in small stores and these pictures being used by a lawyer in sending out dozens of letters at a time threatening to sue for A.D.A violations and demanding thousands of dollars. The article pointed out that this is going on despite a law designed to prevent such schemes and that a new law is being developed.

I have read about such schemes before, and "schemes" is definitely the right word. This is definitely a case of advantage being taken - not to mention a good thing being given a bad name. It is one thing to use a law to make things better and quite another to use it as a money-maker. I would even ask if the guy in the wheelchair taking pictures is really disabled, but perhaps I’m in denial that a disabled person would be in on this.

And I bet the new law being developed will make it harder to file legitimate A.D.A claims.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this...I'd wondered what a "front line" perspective on the A.D.A. might be. I also read, with interest, the story of the guy who seems to be profiting from A.D.A. violations and am concerned that there will be an over-reaction.

    This is really helpful for me!