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5 I will work for such standards and I will work to ensure that they apply to the Congress og the United States!
Many concerns have been raised about the meaning of specific concepts in the ADA. Fortunately a great number have been resolved in thw bill marked up by the Senate. To expedite consideration of the ADA in the House, I believe strongly that the House should address the remaining issues that were not resolved by negotiations between the Senate and the President.
These remaining issues can be resolved in and with good faith, especially if we keep the central purpose of the legislation in focus -- ensuring civil rights of the individual with disabilities.
Such an end can be achieved if we accept that establishing such rights:
includes statuatory language which is clear as to its
reflects the recognition that civil rights laws for those
The ADA as currently drafted, as well as amended by the Senate, does not meet these criteria. I hope the witnesses today will help us explore and establish some practical guidance for ensuring that the final version of the ADA does meet such criteria.
The ADA as amended by the Senate, still includes legal concepts and ambiguous terms that will cause confusion and promote litigation, such as "readily achievable" and the use of the phrase "potential places of employment" in the part of the bill dealing with public accommodation. Quite simply, what do these terms mean to an individual with a disability or to those in business? Unless further clarified, they do not ensure rights, but-such-terms do increase legal liabilities.
The ADA, as amended, still does not allow for different consideration and treatment for intentional and unintentional discrimination, especially in employment. I believe that employers that knowly discriminate on the basis of disability should-face graver consequences than those that do not.
The ADA, as amended, fails to address the impact of its provisions on other State and Federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Thus, the ADA, as amended, would allow the possibility of multiple law suits, based on differing standards, using the same set of facts.
The ADA fails to provide a flexible waiver system or alternative service system option to accommodate entities that are small in-size and the sole source of certain types of service, especially in the area of transportation.
At this point we need to ask ourselves some bottom line questions.
Will the ADA in its present form encourage employers to hire people with disabilities and provide them with reasonable accommodation, or will the ADA cause employers to avoid hiring those with disabilities?
If the ADA is enacted, without further amendment, will it take many years to clarify and thus undermine the expectations of those it is intended to benefit? The impact of the current version of the ADA on the individual with disabilities who
wants a job,
seeks access to the full range of leisure time activities,
expects to be able to visit any doctor of his or her choice,
wants fully accessible public transportation, and
wants to be able to use the telephone any time and any
will not be established by the law, but by the courts in which the principal beneficiaries will be attorneys.
We have it within our power to ensure that the ADA will not cause employers to avoid hiring people with disabilities. We have it within our power to ensure that such individuals will not have to wait for courts to define the extent and conditions of their civil rights. Reasonable methods of correcting the problems with the ADA are available and warranted -clarifications of terms and conditions, and inclusion of reasonable penalties, phase-ins and waivers. And on these latter points -- phase-ins, and waivers -these can be constructed in such a way that they are time -limited and conditional, and not limitless and automatic.
Since joining Congress in 1983, I have had a sustained interest in promoting increased opportunities of and independence for persons with disabilities. My legislative record is a concrete reflection of that interest. I intend to work for the expansion of civil rights for individuals with disabilities. However, given the unique requirements that must accompany such rights, consideration must be given to their impact on society as a whole. I am fully committed to educating that society and holding it accountable for the civil rights due to individuals with disabilities, but I am equally committed to working for laws that do not turn society away from those with disabilities through the use of unclear standards and conditions, or requirements that offer no flexibility, incentives, or relief in certain circumstances.
.nank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. OWENS. Thank you, Mr. Bartlett.
Before commencing the opening statement, I would like to point out to the audience that hearings of this committee seldom begin as the one began today, and we certainly appreciate the very special acknowledgment expressed in that opening. We understand that the the trumpet fanfare was written for this special occasion. We do appreciate that, as we appreciate the tremendous amount of hospitality that has been shown to members of the subcommittee.
We also understand that this hearing is a part of a larger event which is called a celebration. That is also very unusual and we appreciate that.
I am pleased to respond to the invitation of the Houston community to hold this Subcommittee on Select Education hearing here today on H.R. 2273, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1989. This is the second time we have held a field hearing on this bill outside of Washington.
During the first field hearing in Boston, Massachusetts, we heard testimony from over 90 witnesses. And although it is not part of the plan to hear from as many witnesses today, it is important that we continue to extend the geographical participation base of this bill in order that the subcommittee can respond to the national dimensions of the proposed legislation.
All over the world from the townships of South Africa and the shipyards of Poland to the students in Tianeman Square in China-people who aspire to a better life look to the image of American democracy as their guiding star. As Americans, it is our duty to work harder to guarantee that this image more and more becomes reality. At the same time, we must work harder to maintain our leadership role, to continually extend the parameters of our democracy, to expand the scope of civil and human rights enjoyed by all of our citizens.
The American civil rights movement is not an historical curiosity but a living, active force in our democracy that has allowed the Americans With Disabilities Act to come to full fruition. Whenever we resolve to fully use the Federal Government's authority and resources to better protect and expand the rights of any group, we stimulate the processes of empowerment within that group.
The release and recognition of new skills and new talents and new leadership will greatly enrich the fabric of our entire society. The nation's wealth of human resources will be greatly increased by this empowerment of people with disabilities.
The parallels with the civil rights movement constitute similarities that do not frighten, but instead inspire the 43 million strong community of people with disabilities residing in every state and spread through every congressional district in the nation. Fortythree million citizens in democratic America do not need to beg for anything.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a product of a new move ment within the disability community. The spirit of revolution of deaf students at Gallaudet University is embodied in this act. This is a noble document which does not beg. Strong demands are made here. A noble trumpet is sounded in this act.
I want to congratulate the President and the Democratic leadership for their wisdom in forging a bipartisan bill. Our task now is