[NFBOK-Talk] FW: goodlatte_hr620_06142017.pdf

Jeannie Massay jmassay1 at cox.net
Fri Sep 8 19:32:44 UTC 2017

Federation family, 


Below and attached, please find a letter from President Mark Riccobono to
the House regarding HR 620. Congressman Steve Russell has signed on to
co-sponsor this legislation. Please let him and our other legislators know
that we do not support this and we would like for him to withdrawal from
sponsoring this legislation. Further, you will receive a message in the
coming days asking you for further legislative action about our federal
legislative agenda. 


You may reach your congressman at the following numbers:


Rep. Frank Lucas

2311 Rayburn



Rep. Tom Cole

2458 Rayburn



Rep. Markwayne Mullin

1113 Longwell



Rep. Jim Bridenstine

216 Cannon



Rep. Steve Russell

128 Cannon




Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the legislation and a few
minutes more to make the call! Thanks for your help in making sure that the
rights of persons with disabilities are not pushed under the corporate rug. 


Have a great weekend!





Jeannie M. Massay, President

National Federation of theBlind 

Of Oklahoma

505 Baker Street

Norman, OK 73072

Phone: 405-600-0695

Jeannie.massay at nfbok.org <mailto:Jeannie.massay at nfbok.org>  


Live the life you want!


The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the
characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day, we raise
expectations of the blind because low expectations create obstacles between
blind people and our dreams. Blindness is not what holds you back. You can
live the life you want.!. 





June 14, 2017 


The Honorable Robert Goodlatte, Chairman 

House Committee on the Judiciary 

2309 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, DC 20515 

The Honorable John Conyers, Ranking Member 

House Committee on the Judiciary 

2426 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, DC 20515 


Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers: 

The National Federation of the Blind, the leading membership organization of
blind Americans, opposes H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, as

proposed. We believe that this bill will radically undermine the rights of
people with disabilities while not meaningfully protecting businesses from

litigation. The current evidence regarding the problems this bill seeks to
address is, at best, sparse and anecdotal, and does not justify such a

change to the ADA. Instead, we propose that the Congressional Research
Service study the issues raised by this legislation, with further input from

stakeholders. The purposes of this research would be to get a complete and
accurate picture of the realities of ADA litigation and to identify

to any real problems that can achieve consensus among stakeholders. 

Calling for such a study would be consistent with the approach that you have
already begun to take with respect to this bill. Your convening of

on May 11 to exchange views on the issues underlying H.R. 620 was one of the
most productive approaches to these issues that has taken place to date.

other things, this meeting revealed that people with disabilities are seeing
a very different picture from that portrayed by the business stakeholders

represented. Pushing through legislation when the two sides are so far apart
will inevitably lead to policy that adopts one narrative over the other,

ignoring the views of one side (namely, people with disabilities). We
therefore believe that further meetings among stakeholders and policy
makers, as

well as additional fact gathering on the issues, would lead to development
of more effective ways of addressing stakeholders' real interests than the


Because of a lack of data on the number, location, and type of ADA Title III
(i.e., public accommodation) lawsuits, it is currently difficult to assess

with any precision the nature and extent of the problems business
stakeholders claim to be experiencing. As a result, the best way to address
those problems

without inadvertently blocking or discouraging the many meritorious claims
that make up the overwhelming majority of ADA cases is unclear. 

As you have heard, stakeholders with disabilities have very different
experiences of seeking access to businesses than business owners assert.
Even twenty-seven

years after the ADA, we encounter access barriers every day. Sometimes we
are able to get around them. Many times we are not. But every barrier

with our daily lives, slows us down, makes us less productive, humiliates
us, separates us, and prevents us from living the meaningful lives that we

and that other Americans take for granted. Rather than an openness to
correct access barriers quickly without litigation, we too often encounter

delay, and even open hostility to our attempts simply to be customers. We
have no incentive to engage in litigation simply for the sake of litigation,

because damages are unavailable under Title III of the ADA, and litigation
is difficult, slow, and expensive. Indeed, because we bear the burden of

litigation is even more onerous for us than it is for business defendants.
All we want is to have a meal, enjoy entertainment, and buy goods and

for our daily lives. 

Mark Riccobono, President | 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230 | 410 659 9314 | www.nfb.org 

Business representatives have complained of being challenged for "technical
violations." We have explained that what they see as a small, "technical"

may be the inch that makes a door too narrow or a ramp too steep for a
wheelchair user. Business representatives say demand letters are confusing,

and frightening. We have tried to point them to the free plain-English
technical assistance materials available from the Department of Justice, as

as ADA Centers, independent living centers, protection and advocacy
organizations, and private consultants across the country. Business

have complained of a dramatic increase in ADA lawsuits. We have explained
that we have been patient for twenty-seven years, that we do not challenge

vast majority of access barriers we face daily (e.g., the single step that
could easily be ramped, or the too narrow parking space that could simply be

restriped), and that neither the Department of Justice nor private attorneys
pursue most of the complaints we make. Without accurate, dependable, and

data on the number, location, and type of cases being filed, H.R. 620
attempts to legislate based on anecdotes-anecdotes that are at variance from

lived experience of people with disabilities. 

Furthermore, we believe that business stakeholders focus on the burdens of
ADA compliance without reference to the benefits. If a restaurant has

menus, servers do not need to spend time reading the menu to blind or
print-disabled customers while making other patrons wait for service. The

of physical barriers in places of business makes navigating and using the
facilities easier and more efficient for everyone; for example, not just

in wheelchairs, but mothers with strollers and people using shopping carts
or roller bags benefit from ramps. Finally, it should go without saying that

ensuring that a business does not exclude customers with disabilities
ultimately leads to more revenue for the business. 

We firmly believe that H.R. 620 would make meritorious ADA lawsuits much
more difficult and expensive, yet would not affect the very small number of

that have most concerned the proponents of the bill. In addition, it will
decrease access by removing any incentive for businesses to identify and

access barriers proactively. We need to increase access. We know that your
committee shares our goal of increasing access without lawsuits, and we hope

that business stakeholders do as well. I am happy to discuss our concerns
and our proposed solution with you at any time. Please work together with us

to ensure that the civil rights of people with disabilities continue to be
meaningfully protected. 




Mark A. Riccobono, President 

National Federation of the Blind 

cc: Representative Ted Poe 

National Federation of the Blind 



From: Jeannie Massay [mailto:jmassay1 at cox.net] 
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2017 8:05 AM
To: Jeannie Massay <jmassay1 at cox.net>
Subject: goodlatte_hr620_06142017.pdf



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