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strategy for key station accessibility.
The pattern of New York
and Philadelphia, which already have worked out agreements to
retrofit key stations, would serve as an excellent model in this
regard for other cities.
The ADA as passed by the Senate would
require no incremental effort by New York and Philadelphia.
Entities that operate only demand-responsive systems for the general public are, for the most part, small rural communities. Therefore, it is appropriate that in those areas a new vehicle need not be lift-equipped it the entity can demonstrate that its system, when viewed in its entirety, provides a level of service to individuals with disabilities equivalent to the level for
service provided to the general public.
The. ADA also extends to transportation provided by private entities. Hotel and airport shuttle services and around-the-mall parking lot vans, when they offer demand-responsive services; would be required to provide adequate levels of service to individuals with disabilities, and need not equip all vehicles with lifts.
Private intercity bus companies clearly provide an important transportation service. They are a transportation "safety net" providing service to regions not otherwise serviced by other modes of transportation and to people who do not generally have other transportation options available to them. Therefore, the Senatepassed legislation would require these operations to be made
accessible within seven years for small operators and six years for all others. The Department must issue regulations within a year of enactment to implement these requirements. This. legislation also calls for a three-year study of how best to achieve this accessibility for inter-city carriers. The rule promulgated by the Secretary will thus be available to serve as a baseline against which other approaches can be compared. This study required by the bill should indicate cost-effective methods for making over-the-road buses accessible within the statutory time period.
Finally, the Department supports provisions adopted in the Senate-passed bill that appropriately distinguish the obligations
of employers with respect to active alcoholics and drug abusers,
on the one hand, and those who are no longer using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol, on the other hand. Moreover, these provisions would allow an employer to prohibit the use of illegal drugs by an employee and prohibit the use of alcohol at the workplace.
Mr. Chairman, twenty-five years ago Congress and the
President were finalizing enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most comprehensive civil rights legislation ever passed. We now have the chance to extend the Nation's civil rights guarantees to the disabled community, and the Department
and the Administration are pleased to support this landmark
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my remarks and we would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. MINETA. At this time, I would like to call forward a gentleman who is going to have to catch a plane, but who has done just outstanding service not only to the business community but to this country and serves, presently, as the Chair of the Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities. So, at this point, I would like to call forward Justin Dart. I appreciate Mr. Roffee, the Executive Director of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board allowing Mr. Dart to be inserted and to testify at this point.
TESTIMONY OF JUSTIN DART, CHAIRPERSON, TASK FORCE ON
THE RIGHTS AND EMPOWERMENT OF AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES
Mr. MINETA. Mr. Dart, it is good to have you with us. If you would go ahead and proceed in your own fashion, sir.
Mr. Dart. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a privilege to appear before this distinguished Committee. I deeply appreciate, Mr. Chairman, your support for the rights of people with disabilities, and that of your colleagues. My name is Justin Dart. I serve as Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. I am exceedingly proud to serve in the Administration of the first President and Vice-President of the United States to endorse comprehensive civil-rights protection for people with disabilities.
I address you today not as an official representative of the Administration but as Chairperson of the Task Force on the rights and empowerment of Americans with disabilities. As a fiscal conservative, as an active Republican, and as a lifelong advocate for the principles of individual responsibility, individual productivity and individual rights which have made America great.
Mr. Chairman, you and your colleague members of the Congress have contributed to a miracle of progress for people with disabilities in the last few decades. Yet we all know that the job is far from finished. Blocked by discriminatory and paternalistic practices, and environmental barriers from fulfilling their potential for productive and satisfying lives, 43 million citizens with disabilities form this nation's most isolated, unemployed, impoverished and dependent minority.
The depth of their spiritual suffering would be impossible to express in words. It is absolutely imperative for the integrity and the prosperity of this nation that the Americans With Disabilities Act become law in a form that provides equal or greater protection to people with disabilities as the version endorsed by the President and passed by the Senate.
The provisions of the act that require the eventual total accessibility to people with disabilities of all bus systems serving the public are particularly important. It will do little good to prohibit discrimination in employment if people with disabilities are still denied the right to use the mainline public transit services necessary to prepare for employment, to travel to and from places of employment and to access the public facilities and services necessary to maintain themselves in and advance in employment.
There must be no exceptions to the requirement for equal opportunity to transit services. Transportation is just as vital to the ability to be employed. Intercity tour and charter bus transit is, often, the only possible method by which hundreds of thousands of rural and impoverished inter-city residents with disabilities can access the educational and cultural activities necessary to become qualified for employment and for advancement in employment and can travel to and from places of employment.
Airport, hotel and other similar transit services are absolutely necessary to many types of employment and to the full enjoyment of American citizenship. Experience has clearly demonstrated that there is no area of this nation where local circumstances, such as inclement weather, render accessible public transit impractical or unnecessary.
During the heavy snows of 1987, here in Washington, D.C., I negotiated the sidewalks in my wheel chair to be in my offices when only two or three able-bodied employees out of, perhaps, 60 were present. There is no city where totally paralyzing weather conditions occur more than a few days in a year.
Paratransit systems for persons with certain types of severe disabilities are essential, not as a substitute for but as a supplement to 100 percent accessible public transit. I can tell you, from 40 years of personal experience and from testimony I have taken in each of the 50 states, that paratransit and other demand-response systems for people with disabilities simply do not serve the needs of fully-employed, fully-active citizens.
The President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities feels so strongly about this issue that we moved our 1991 national meeting from a city that did not plan for fully-accessible public transit to one that did, from San Antonio to Dallas, Texas. I am delighted to report that San Antonio has since adopted a policy of total equality and that we look forward to having our annual meeting there in some future year.
But what about cost? Is ADA and is accessible public transit affordable? Mr. Chairman, is equality affordable in the United States of America? Not since the abolition of slavery has equality been negotiable for money in this country. But while we all agree that equality is not contingent on economic expediency, we also agree that there is, always, the responsibility to implement equality as affordably as possible.
Mr. Chairman, cost and fiscal responsibility provide the strongest possible arguments for ADA. The forced dependency of a large proportion of our increasing population of people with disabilities has resulted in heavy and rapidly escalating economic burdens on government, business, families and tax payers.
Using data provided by Federal agencies, the Congressional Task Force which I chair estimates that the unnecessary unemployment of more than 8 million citizens with disabilities costs our society in excess of $246 billion annually. The President of the United States has used the figure $300 billion.
Mr. Chairman, I can sympathize with the fear of the unknown on the part of some of my colleagues in the transit industries who, perhaps, are not fully knowledgeable about the problems and the potential of people with
4. I can understand, particularly,