disAbility Connections staff, board members and volunteers are involved in advocacy at local, state and federal levels to address barriers, provide input on necessary changes and to help collect information on needs in our community. Following are our current areas of focus.
Potential Changes to ADA and Knowing Your Rights
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination based on race, gender, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Then, in 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibited discrimination based on disability. Civil rights are among the basic liberties which all people deserve. Equality among peers, with no stigmas, and ability to go or do where your heart takes you are a few basics of freedom any individual appreciates. The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) has the potential to take away from that very freedom, while simultaneously putting undo pressure on the people it is taking that freedom from.
Under H.R. 620 if a business is currently not accessible, they are no longer required to be nor have any incentive to become compliant with the ADA. If a person finds a business/service to be inaccessible, they must file a written notice specifying the exact ADA infraction(s) the establishment/provider are violating. Then, the owner has 60 days to merely acknowledge the notice and an additional 120 days (6 months total) to begin fixing the violation(s). If they are still not within ADA compliance nearly 28 years past the ADA enactment, only then can legal action be taken to rectify the situation. This will set a ground breaking precedent, walking back on people with disabilities civil right of equal access to public accommodations.
Another key aspect of consideration with H.R. 620 is the lack of potential employment for people with disabilities paired with missed revenue opportunity for businesses. Any place that is inaccessible for lack of entry, restrooms, or functionality reduces both their workplace potential and missed revenue opportunity that much more. In a time when online shopping is becoming more popular, it would make sense for any brick and mortar location to try capitalizing on every worker and dollar possible. Instead of instantly excluding them from their prospective talent pool and consumer market.
There are numerous issues worth fighting for. Taking civil rights AWAY from millions of fellow people should not be one of them. Before the time comes to vote on passing H.R. 620 in the Senate, please share this information and contact your Representatives to let your voice and stance be known on this issue.
The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) would seriously weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would make it easier for businesses to continue to ignore the ADA.
We believe that it is important for Congress to hear the voices of many who oppose this legislation. It is imperative that your Representative be told to oppose H.R. 620 ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. Click here to contact your lawmakers!
The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) has passed the House of Representatives and is now going to the Senate. We encourage your support in getting our voices heard to our Senators.
LANSING, Mich. — A bill introduced by Sen. Vincent Gregory (D–Lathrup Village), that would provide an income tax credit to taxpayers who purchase a qualified residence or retrofit their home to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities, passed the Michigan Senate, 33-3.
Under Senate Bill 184, for a homeowner to earn the tax credit, the purchased residence or planned renovations must meet accessibility and visitability standards, and be certified by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
“Improving physical access in our homes helps to eliminate barriers and provides greater opportunities — especially with regards to employment and social freedoms,” Sen. Gregory said. “The architectural features of a home influence the quality of life and independence of not only the resident, but also others who may have physical limitations to their everyday lives.”
The credit can be claimed for either four percent of the total purchase price of a qualified principal residence, or up to 50 percent of the cost to retrofit an existing residence. The amount of the credit would be capped at $5,000.
Sen. Gregory worked closely with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and other organizations to develop legislative solutions that would improve the daily lives of individuals and their families living with physical limitations, but was quick to point out that accessibility credits benefit everyone.
“My hope is that this bill will alleviate some financial burdens and help older adults and disabled individuals stay in the comfort of their own homes, and communities, for as long as they are safely able to do so,” Sen. Gregory said.
disAbility Connections staff are currently focusing on the following areas:
JTA Advisory Council - Parrish Stahl, disAbility Connections staff, is a member of the JATA Advisory Council the l Transit Advisory Council (LTAC). If you have questions or concerns you would like brought forward you can contact him at 517-998-3089 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
JATA Board Member - Jim Cyphers, disAbility Connections staff, is a Board Member of Jackson Area Transit Authority. He may be reached at 517-998-3083 or email email@example.com . We also work with Key Opportunities in Hillsdale County and Lenawee Transportation regarding concerns in those counties.
Walkable Communities Task Force - Attended by Parrish Stahl, disAbility Connections staff. This group is concerned with all people being able to move around the city with ease using public transportation, bikes, wheelchairs, and mobility devices; also focuses on sidewalks with ADA accessible curb ramps and cutaways, proper signage, bicycle lanes as well as trails, walkways and other methods of connecting people throughout the city.
City of Jackson Human Relations Commission- Parrish Stahl, disAbility Connections staff, is a member of this City Commission representing people with disabilities and their concerns.
Continua of Care - Finding safe, accessible and affordable housing is a challenge to locate in all our communities. disAbility Connections staff are members of the Continua of Care for Homelessness in Jackson (Parrish Stahl and Lesia Pikaart), Hillsdale (Carmon Yeloushan) and Lenawee (Brian Elliott) to provide input on housing needs of people with disabilities in our communities. These groups work to gather information on community needs, develop local plans and apply for funds to address local needs through HUD, MSHDA and other funding streams.