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United Cerebral Palsy of Indiana, Inc., letters submitted for the record ....
Hospital, Kokomo, Indiana, Kokomo Employer of the Year
HEARING ON H.R. 2273, AMERICANS WITH
DISABILITIES ACT OF 1989
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1989
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Indianapolis, IN. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice at 2:30 p.m., in Room 137, University Place Conference Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, Hon. Major R. Owens (Chairman) presiding
Members present. Representatives Owens and Jontz
Staff present: Bob Tate, Martha Phipps, Alan Lovesee, and Randy Johnson.
Mr. OWENS. The Subcommittee on Select Education of the Committee on Education and Labor is now in session.
This afternoon marks the fourth House Select Education Subcommittee hearing on the "Americans with Disabilities Act." In the past year, the subcommittee conducted field hearings on the same legislation in Boston, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas with an overwhelming support expressed for the legislation in both parts of the country.
In each instance the subcommittee was the wiser for having heard the testimony of, and having spoken to, dozens of individuals who either have a disability themselves or are concerned in some fashion with people with disabilities.
We are likewise delighted to hear this afternoon from citizens of Indiana. We have also heard from public officials of all walks of life, not only those who are responsible for programs which serve people with disabilities but those who are responsible for public transportation, for public accommodations and for employment programs.
Following passage of the bill in the Senate by a 76 to 8 vote, and this was accomplished with the support of the President, the House now seeks to take the bill up for consideration later this month.
The Speaker has indicated that he would like to have the Americans with Disabilities Act on the floor before the end of October. We hope this will be the last field hearing before this historic legislation is passed.
I would like to take this opportunity to compliment Congressman Jim Jontz, not only for the hard work that he and his staff have put forth in organizing today's hearing but also for his diligence and effective representation of the interests of people with disabilities.
The citizens of Northwest Indiana are fortunate to have such an able, industrious representative in Washington. I look forward to working closely with Jim for the final passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in the House this fall.
I yield to Congressman Jontz for an opening statement.
Mr. JONTZ. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to welcome everyone here this afternoon and particularly welcome you, Mr. Chairman and thank you for your willingness to bring this hearing to Indiana.
We have had some excellent field hearings previously on this subject, the American Disabilities Act, so I thought it might be a good idea to ask you to come to the midwest or a rural community to hear from the many people with disabilities in our state who have valid concerns which should be incorporated into the Act.
Now, I appreciate your leadership position in the Congress, Mr. Chairman, on this issue. As we were visiting earlier today, it was actually a Hoosier, former Congressman, John Brademas, who was the originator and I believe the first chair of the Select Education Subcommittee.
So I am delighted to have the subcommittee hearing in Indiana today and to have you here as our guest and thank you for taking the time to conduct this hearing.
I want to express my appreciation to everyone who is here today as a show of support here in Indiana for the Americans With Disabilities Act.
This Act is the most important legislation affecting the lives of people with disabilities that has been considered by the Congress for a long time.
Your presence here is representative of the strong support this legislation has here in our state and throughout the entire country.
The Americans With Disabilities Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that will insure that people with disabilities are guaranteed the same civil rights that every other group of Americans is guaranteed.
People with disabilities are entitled to lead independent and productive lives, to make choices for themselves, and to be integrated in mainstream into society.
These are inalienable civil rights that must be guaranteed to every American regardless of race, religion, or disability.
The Americans With Disabilities Act addresses five basic areas, employment, transportation, public accommodation, public services, and communication.
Equal access to each of these areas is essential for all Americans who want to lead independent and productive lives.
The Americans With Disabilities Act will provide enforceable standards. It addresses discrimination against individuals with disabilities and insures the Federal Government plays a central role in enforcing these standards on behalf of individuals with disabilities.
I have heard some people say that the ADA places too heavy a burden on employers and businesses because they will have to make expensive accommodations.
The fact is, in my opinion, most employers will actually benefit from the Americans With Disabilities Act. It is not excessively costly to provide reasonable accommodations.
Most employees with disabilities do not require any accommodation whatsoever and on the average, necessary accommodations have been found to cost less than $50.
In addition, employers will be able to gain valuable employees and potential consumers and customers by making it possible to consider and hire people with disabilities. Increase accessibility of business facilities will give employers increased flexibility in obtaining and retaining employees.
By making places of business accessible, business owners will be able to attract new customers who are no longer kept away by physical barriers.
By reducing or eliminating architectural, transportation, communication barriers that prevent or restrict individuals with disabilities from living independent, productive lives in the mainstream of American society, all of society will benefit.
An accessible environment will not only benefit people with disabilities but will affect nearly everyone at some point in their lives.
Among those who will benefit from increased accessibility are children, parents pushing their children's strollers, persons carry. ing luggage or groceries, the temporarily disabled, the elderly, and the family and friends of persons with physical disabilities.
For too long, our society has been structured in a way that many opportunities, great and small, have been denied to people with disabilities.
It is time for the needless obstacles, both physical and attitudinal, to be removed. It is time to pass the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Thank you very much again, Mr. Chairman for bringing the hearing to Indiana today. I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses who will share their views on this historic legislation with our committee.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Jim Jontz follows:)
Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you to all of you who came here today to show your support of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This Act is the most important legislation affecting the lives of people with disabilities ever considered by the Congress. Your presence here is representative of the strong support this legislation has here in Indiana and throughout the entire country.
The Americans with disabilities Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that will ensure that people with disabilities are guaranteed the same civil rights that every other group of Americans is guaranteed. People with disabilities are antitled to lead independent and productive lives, to make choices for themselves, and to be integrated and mainstreamed into society. These are inalienable civil rights that must be guaranteed to every American, regardless of race, religion or disability.