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Americans with Disabilities Act, as passed by the Senate, appropriately phases in its coverage. When they go into effect two years after enactment, the employment provisions will cover only those employers with 25 or more employees. Two years later, coverage will be extended to include all employers with 15 or Bore employees. Under this phase-in approach, the more immediate burdens of compliance will fall on those larger businesses nost able to bear then. We also believe that the two-year implementation period will ease any initial confusion regarding compliance requirenents by giving the Administration adequate tine to craft regulations and engage in wide-reaching technical assistance efforts.
Furthermore, the Administration is pleased that the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act closely follow the standards provided by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 including the concept that nondiscrimination includes the requirement that an employer make reasonable accommodation to the known nental or physical lapairments of qualified disabled persons as long as making the accommodation would not result in an undue hardship on the operations of the employer. The fact that many of the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act are drawn directly and, in many instances, even taken verbatin fron the Sederal regulations implementing section 504 represents a particularly wise choice. The section 504 standards are familiar to large segments of the private sector already covered by the Rehabilitation Act. Experience has shown that these standards do not result in undue costs or excessive litigation.
The Administration is satisfied that the Senate-passed Americans with disabilities Act is consistent with Federal drug
free workplace initiatives. I need not remind this Committee of the scourge of illegal drug use in this country and its frightening impact on daily American life. Under the Senate bill
individuals who are illegally using drugs are not included within
the protections of the bill and the legality of drug testing is
The bill is fully consistent with this
Administration's commitment to the eradication of substance abuse
in the workplace and elsewhere.
The inclusion of public accommodations in the "Americans
with Disabilities Act" is a Federal recognition that an
opportunity society provides access to the mainstream of everyday life. Just as title II of the civil Rights Act of 1964 opened up hotels, restaurants, and theaters to Black Americans, the
Americans with disabilities Act promises to persons with disabilities the right to enjoy full participation in our American way of life. The Administration endorses the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability in public accommodations and its extension to a wide range of
fron attending concerts, going to' restaurants, and attending movies. And they should not have to face insurmountable obstacles in accomplishing such vital tasks of daily life as grocery shopping or visiting a pharmacy or doctor's office, or going to the dry cleaners.
We recognize that imposing an unlimited requirement that
public accommodations make themselves accessible to persons with
mobility impairments and provide auxiliary aids to those with visual and hearing impairments could result in significant costs. However, the ADA, as passed by the Senate, provides a series of limitations on compliance requirements. For example, physical barriers need only be removed when the removal is "readily achievable," and auxiliary aids must be provided only if they will not result in an undue burden. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, for example, a restaurant would not be required to provide menus in braille for blind patrons, if the waiters in the restaurant were willing to read the menu. The Act also has minimal requirements for retrofitting existing facilities. In fact, the Act's readily achievable" standard requires that existing architectural barriers be removed when doing so is easily accomplishable or able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.
As an essentially forward-looking bili, the legislation reserves the most rigorous accessibility requirements for new
construction, resulting in an estimated increase of construction costs of no more than one percent. Even this new construction requirement has certain limitations that attempt to mitigate costs. The Americans with Disabilities Act contains an exception for placing elevators in new or altered buildings, perhaps the most costly capital expense for making buildings accessible. Any
building that has less than 3,000 square feet per story or that
is less than three stories in height need not be constructed with
The Administration believes a more prudent course
would make the requirement apply to new construction of buildings 'with more than 3 stories. Only multistory shopping malls, professional offices of health care providers, and other categories of buildings designated by the Attorney General would
be required to have elevators.
The Administration also supports the Senate bill's exclusion of religious organizations and entities controlled by religious organizations from the reach of the public accommodations provisions. Places of worship and the activities of entities · controlled by religious organizations have been prudently excluded from the bill.
The Administration is well aware of the costs that litigation designed to test novel theories can impose on business in this country. In order to avoid unnecessary and costly
litigation, the Americans with disabilities Act, in most cases,
Congress and the Executive Branch. Four statutes and a series of current Department of Transportation regulations present an interrelated, complicated set of obligations. Several Federal circuit courts have interpreted these statutes and rules. The President agrees that additional legislation is needed to bring certainty to this area and believes that the Americans with Disabilities Act appropriately clarifies transit requirements.
Our goal, and yours, is to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to adequate transportation in this
The Americans with disabilities Act would, for the
first time, guarantee that public bus systems in this country are accessible to persons with mobility impairments by requiring that all new public buses be accessible to persons with disabilities
with the Department of Transportation empowered to grant waivers
in the narrow circumstances where such buses are unavailable. No retrofitting of existing buses is required by the bill. Requiring that all new buses be accessible is a major change in Federal transportation policy and a welcome one. The unavailability of accessible public transportation in areas served by public transit continues to be a major barrier to the employment of persons with disabilities and a significant factor
1 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.c. | 794; section 16(a) of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, as amended, 49 U.S.c. § 1612(a): section 165(b) of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, as amended, 23 U.S.C. § 142 note; and section 317(c) of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, 49 U.S.C. § 1612 (d).