New legislation threatens changes to Americans with Disabilities Act

- A game of tennis is so much more than a hustle across the court. For Marine Veteran Paul Stewart it's about living life to the full.

"I play other sports as well. It keeps my quality of life going wonderful," said Stewart.

But some places aren't as accessible as the Tom Sykes Recreation Center in Dilworth.

A new bill in congress has some people with disabilities enraged. It recommends a change to the well-known ADA Americans with Disabilities Act. 

"I've been in a couple of major retail places and there's been times when I go through the aisles and it's not 36 inches to make a turn into another aisle so I'm trying to back up and as I’m backing up I catch onto something and I flip over in my chair."

Paul Stewart says new legislation called the ‘ADA Education and Reform Act' will make things worse for people with disabilities.

"People with disabilities have fought for their rights like everyone else to enjoy their quality of life."

Texas Congressman Ted Poe introduced the bill in January. It cleared the judiciary committee in early September. Poe says the legislation would curb abusive ADA lawsuits.

In a statement, the Congressman says "certain attorneys and their pool of serial plaintiffs troll for minor, easily correctable ADA infractions so they can file a lawsuit and make some cash. (...) This bill will change that by requiring that the business owners have time to fix what is allegedly broken."

Poe says there's a whole industry of people who prey on small business owners with so called 'drive by lawsuits'. The bill - he says - gives businesses 60 days to respond to a complaint.

Stewart says the bill would put the burden on the disabled person to make sure businesses are accessible to wheelchairs.

"We don't need to change the law, but keep it as is and enforce it."

For a full look at the bill, visit the links below:

Read H.R. 620.

Read an overview of the bill from National Disabilities Rights Network.

Read literature in support of the bill.

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