Submitted by Karen Stallings
The Bush Administration is about to propose far-reaching new rules that would give people with disabilities greater access to tens of thousands of courtrooms, swimming pools, golf courses, stadiums, theaters, hotels and retail stores. The proposal would substantially update federal standards for enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and set more stringent requirements in many areas, in an effort to meet the needs of an aging population and the growing number of war veterans with disabilities. Millions of businesses and all state and local government agencies would be affected.
The proposal includes some exemptions for parts of existing buildings, but new construction or renovations would have to comply. The White House approved the proposal in May which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register soon, with a 60-day period for public comment. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says enforcement would be onerous and costly, while advocates for Americans with disabilities say it does not go far enough.
Since the Disability Law was signed by the first President Bush, advances in technology have made services more available to people with disabilities. But Justice Department Officials still receive large numbers of complaints. In recent months, the Federal Government has settled lawsuits securing more seats for fans with disabilities at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and at the nation's largest college football stadium at the University of Michigan.
Karen Stallings, Community Liaison NC, is the Executive Director of the Association of Self-Advocates of North Carolina, and is a writer and an actress currently working on her autobiography.