Controversy over Accessibility Laws in California


So, I’m a little late with today’s post. Yesterday, I was a little busy with my first meeting in regards to getting a job coach. But that’s another story for another time.

Today’s post is going to be a mixture of opinion/reporting the news. Recently, The American with Disabilities Act has become the center of attention. Signed over 17 years ago, the law is intended to create barrier free access for the disabled.

What’s the problem with that?

Absolutely nothing.

In California, problems began to surface in 1992 when they decided to allow plaintiffs to sue for monetary damages . As a result, thousands of lawsuits are being brought up in court cases. The price that businesses end up paying is a big one. Not only do they have to correct the violation for future customers, they also have to pay the plaintiff for the violation. While Attorney David Peters admits that most suits are valid, it’s the law’s misuse that concerns him the most. Some examples of this may include such small violations as the placement of a mirror or a coat rack. Peters say it’s often cheaper for businesses to settle rather than follow through in court. In effort to prevent such misuse, he created Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse.

On the other hand, many disabled people feel that issues need to be pointed out. To date, there have been more than 14,000 lawsuits in California’s federal courts. David Gunther is just one of those people. Gunther, who has been disabled for over five years, has sued a variety of businesses for what he considers “a barrier for the handicapped”.

“I’m trying to make this world a better place before I leave it,” says Gunther.

Now onto my opinion. To be honest, this was one of the hardest entries for me to write. As a person with communication degree, I realize the importance of trying to tell both sides to the issue. I wasn’t quite sure what details to add or leave out because CNBC did cover a lot regarding the specific suits and such. Because of that, I was left to use my own judgment. Truthfully, I’m still a little confused and irritated by the segment. That’s why I decided to cite this source for you to make your own informed decision if you wanted further information. I myself can see both perspectives-the disabled person and the businesses. On the one hand, yes, I do want places to be barrier free so that I can come and go wherever I please just like any one else. Yes, you have to be assertive and stand up for what you believe is right. But there also has to be limits. I’m not quite sure what kind of limits I am speaking of because as I said I can see both sides.

Anyway, that’s all for today. I’d be interested in hearing your opinions

Citation for TV program: “Legally Challenged” News segment Jane Wells reporting, CNBC channel 39, Business Nation at 10 pm, March 8, 2007

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