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and exactly identical to the definition which this subcommittee put into the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.
Specifically, the different titles of the ADA address the various forms of discrimination that I have just been describing. Title II of H.R. 2273 prohibits discrimination in employment. The bill covers employers who have 15 or more employees. Now, there are lots of people who believe that discrimination should be prohibited by any - employer, even if it's two employees, but 15 employees is the number that exists in title VII prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin, and that is the figure that's put in this bill.
The discrimination that's prohibited is straightforward. An employer cannot refuse to hire, cannot refuse to promote, cannot set different terms or conditions of employment, for a person with a disability because of that disability. That's the straightforward, nondiscrimination mandate.
The bill also requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to the physical and mental limitations of the individual with the disability if that accommodation or modification would then make the person qualified to do the job. As the chairman noted, obviously every person with a disability has to be qualified to do the job. However, in some situations the employer must make reasonable accommodation in order to allow the person to do the essential functions of the job.
Title III of the ADA covers the provision of public services by a State or a subdivision of a State. Now, most of the programs and activities of a State are going to be already covered under section 504 if they get Federal funds, but to the extent that some programs or activities are not covered, title III extends that same coverage to the rest of the activities of the State.
Title III also incorporates specific provisions regarding public transportation. These provisions reflect a focus on the future. Instead of requiring extensive retrofitting of existing buses, this section requires that every new bus that is bought in a public transportation program must be readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, including people who use wheelchairs.
Title IV of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the part of all public accommodations operated by private entities. Again, I think this is a title that this subcommittee might be well interested in because it parallels in many ways what the subcommittee just did in the Fair Housing Amendments Act last year.
The bill states simply that no individual can be discriminated against in the full and equal enjoyment of any of the benefits offered by a public accommodation. The bill addresses the two aspects of discrimination that I was talking about before. First, it prohibits attitudinal discrimination. It says a place cannot say “we just don't
want you in here; we don't like the way you look.” Someone testified earlier on the Senate side, where a young girl with cerebral palsy who was not allowed into a movie theater because the movie theater owner didn't like how she looked. It prohibits attitudinal discrimination.
The second type of discrimination it prohibits is discrimination based on physical access. Again, as with transportation, the bill looks to the future. While there is a requirement that some modifications be made in existing facilities if those modifications would be readily achievable-that is, actions that can be accomplished without much difficulty or expense--the bill's basic requirement is that all design and construction of new buildings must be readily accessible to people with disabilities. This approach of looking to the future and this requirement of physical access is not at all new to this subcommittee, which as I noted just last year brought to the Congress the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 which had the same approach and same requirements of physical access in new buildings.
Finally, title VI of the ADA requires common carriers to provide telecommunication relay systems. This rely system allows deaf individuals who have their own TDD's to be able to communicate with other people and entities, even if the person on the receiving side doesn't have a TDD, by the use of an intermediary relay system.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate our strong support for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1989. This bill, when enacted, will be a historic piece of civil rights legislation. It should have been passed in 1964 and in 1968, together with all the other civil rights laws. But it wasn't. It needs to be passed now. It needs to be passed by this Congress this year. The ADA is a piece of civil rights legislation whose time has truly come. Thank you.
Mr. EDWARDS. Thank you very much, Ms. Feldblum, for splendid testimony.
(The prepared statement of Ms. Feldblum follows:
PREPARED STATEMENT OF CHAI R. FELDBLUM, LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL, AMERICAN CIVIL
The American civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is pleased to submit testimony in support of H.R. 2273, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1989 (ADA) . The ACLU is a national, nonpartisan organization with over 275,000 members dedicated to the protection and defense of civil rights and civil liberties of all
The ACLU has a long-standing policy in favor of strong antidiscrimination protection for people with disabilities. We believe that every individual must be judged on his or her merits, without regard to characteristics that are irrelevant to
a person's ability or worth.
For many years, irrelevant characteristics such as race, gender, religion, and national origin were used to judge individuals and to justify discriminatory actions against such individuals. Since passage of the landmark Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, a clear and consistent federal policy and federal prohibition against such discrimination has been in place. while the presence of the Civil Rights Acts has not been able to
eradicate discrimination in our country on the basis of race,
religion, national origin or sex, it has at least provided a source of redress in our nation's courts for those who have
experienced such discrimination.
There are some members of our society, however, who still do not have access to this basic corn of redress for unjustified
discrimination. People with disabilities constitute such a
class. While a private employer could not refuse to hire or promote a person because that individual ware black, Jewish or a woman, that same private employer, if it did not receive federal
funds or federal contracts, could discrininate against a person
with a disability on the basis of the disability. Such discrimination happens all too often, in situations where the person with the disability is otherwise completely qualified to perform the job in question and where the discrimination is simply the result of fear, ignorance or misperception.
The same type of discrimination that occurs in employment
occurs across all spectrums of our society. People with disabilities face discrimination in a wide array of privately operated public accommodations. In some situations, the discrimination is attitudinal: a restaurant, a dress shop, an exercise club; a movie theatre or some other service provider may simply not want to provide services to a person with epilepsy, cerebral palsy. AIDS or any other disability. In other situations, the public accommodation needs to provide a simple auxiliary aid to allow a person with a disability access to a particular service or benefit, but the aid is not provided. Finally, in many situations, the discrimination is one of
physical access: individuals with mobility impairments often cannot even get into the door of a building that is a public
Problems with attitudinal discrimination and physical access exist in the sphere of public and private transportation as well. In order for people with disabilities to get to employment positions or to public accommodations, they must be able to have access to effective transportation. Yet, many publicly-financed transportation systems have few lift-equipped buses that are accessible to people with mobility impairments, and the supplementary "paratransit" systems that are available to people with disabilities have severe limitations. Privately owned transportation systems offer even fewer accessible vehicles.
People with hearing impairments experience a particular form of discrimination in our society. The basis of our society is communication often communication that takes place through use
of the telephone.
We use the telephone to carry out our
business, to set up appointments, to call for help, and to order food and theatre reservations. People with hearing impairments do not have access to this post basic tool of communication if the entity on the receiving end does not have a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) or if a telecommunications relay system is not in place in that particular geographic area.