July 26 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The Arc is proud of our role in protecting the rights of people with disabilities, including as a significant player in the passage of the ADA. Consistent with our work for decades on policy development and legal efforts on key issues including deinstitutionalization, transforming state service systems, and ensuring that people with I/DD have access to education and life in the community, The Arc was committed to advancing the bill creating a national mandate for the elimination of discrimination on the basis of disability. From educating Congress and the public on the discrimination faced by people with disabilities and their families, helping to organize the grassroots, and supporting Congressional hearings and promotion on the Hill, The Arc was actively engaged in the fight for the ADA. State and local chapters of The Arc were integral to the movement. Through the tenacious advocacy of The Arc with our allies across the disability community, the bill passed with broad bipartisan support.
Read The Arc’s statements:
This week, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) will hold two events in recognition of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Details are as follows:
Honoring the Fight: 30 Years of the ADA: July 22, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. ET
- The panelists will reflect on the last 30 years of the ADA and the goals that were and still are present for the disability community. Panelists include:
- Senator Tom Harkin, (D-IA) 40 year member of Congress and Senate author of the ADA
- Governor Tom Ridge, (R-PA) Current Chair of the National Organization on Disability, former Governor of Pennsylvania, and First Secretary of Homeland Security
- Claudia Gordon, Disability Rights Attorney and Advocate, Former Obama Administration Appointee
- Elena Hung, Executive Director and Co-founder, Little Lobbyists
- Rebecca Cokley, Director, Disability Justice Initiative, Center for American Progress
- Maria Town, Moderator, President and CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities
Continuing the Fight: Ensuring the ADA Works for Everyone: July 24, 1:00 -2:00 p.m. ET
- The next 30 years and beyond of the ADA will shine a spotlight on intersectional identities as we hear from panelists about what’s next for the disability community. Panelists include:
- Jeiri Flores, Advocacy Discipline Coordinator, University of Rochester LEND
- Conchita Hernandez Legorreta, Maryland Statewide Blind and Low Vision Specialist
- Catherine Lhamon, Moderator, Chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
CART and American Sign Language will be provided.
On July 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) will hold a briefing titled “The ADA at 30: A Vision for a Future With Full Inclusion and Equity.” Heather Ansley, Chair of CCD will provide opening remarks. Liz Weintraub, Senior Advocacy Specialist at Association of University Centers on Disabilities will serve as moderator. Panelists include:
- Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights
- Germán Parodi, Co-Executive Director, Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies
- Maria Town, CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities
- Monique Dixon, Deputy Director of Policy and Director of State Advocacy, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
The briefing focuses on the intersection of disability and racial equity and the aim of ensuring that the ADA’s goals of full participation, equal opportunity, independent living and economic self-sufficiency can become a reality for all people with disabilities, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Presented in collaboration with Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Don Young (R-AK), co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Disabilities caucus; Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Majority Leader; Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA); Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging; Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL); and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment.
This week is National Disability Voter Registration Week. The Arc has developed resources in plain language and Spanish including a disability voter guide and other resources. Learn more about exercising your right to vote at https://thearc.org/vote/ and https://www.aapd.com/advocacy/voting/.
June 22 Marks 21st Anniversary of Olmstead Decision
Today (June 22) marks the anniversary of the Olmstead v. L.C. decision in the Supreme Court, where two women with disabilities, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, lead the charge to make the integration mandate a reality in this county. The ruling established that unnecessary institutionalization is a form of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We must continue to expand an array of community-based and integrated options, encourage full, meaningful inclusion in community life, and build economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. Supporting home and community-based services is more critical than ever in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the terrible toll it continues to exact from people with disabilities, their families, and support staff across the country.
To honor this victory against unnecessary barriers to community living, and in the face of staggering harm to people with disabilities in congregate settings, we urge you to contact your Senators to pass legislation that includes the critical needs of people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional workforce.
Our Nation continues to reckon with the impact of racism and police violence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta over the weekend, and countless other lives lost. Speaking out on the oppression of any group and against hate and discrimination in its many different forms is part and parcel of what disability rights is all about. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities and Green Mountain Self-Advocates, has created a plain language booklet on police violence and anti-black racism to help people understand more how these issues all relate to one another and what people with disabilities can do. See The Arc’s statement that was released following the killing of George Floyd.
On June 3, the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing titled, “Protecting the Right to Vote During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Witnesses were Stacey Abrams, Chair, Fair Fight Action; J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel, Public Interest Legal Foundation; Barbara Arnwine, President, Transformative Justice Coalition; Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State, State of Michigan; Michelle Bishop, Disability Advocacy Specialist for Voting Rights, National Disability Rights Network; Tom Fitton, President, Judicial Watch; Dale Ho, Director, Voting Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union; and Myrna Perez, Director, Voting Rights and Elections Program, Brennan Center for Justice. Visit the Committee website for more information or access video of the hearing.
On June 2, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, The Arc released a statement condemning the ongoing violence and police brutality against black people in our country. In the statement, The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns stated, “The Arc renews its own commitment to social justice and the dismantling of the systems of oppression and discrimination that further this violence and neglect.” Read the full statement.
On April 3, The Arc along with many disability organizations released a guide for states and hospitals on applying the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) bulletin on avoiding discrimination in treatment rationing. The document emphasizes that federal disability rights laws protecting people with disabilities against discrimination apply to hospitals experiencing a medical equipment, bed, or staffing shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also states that every patient must be treated as an individual, not a diagnosis; and it reminds care providers of effective communication requirements for with people with disabilities, among many other recommendations. Read The Arc’s statement.
On March 28, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a guidance bulletin stating that health care providers are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities based on stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgement about their relative worth even during a pandemic. The guidance also says that treatment decisions should be based on an individual assessment. The Arc has filed three complaints with OCR in response to treatment rationing plans in Washington, Alabama, and Tennessee.