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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just because you can doesn't mean you should

today's newspaper had a very interesting article about a woman who files lawsuits against businesses that aren't compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  if the business isn't up to date with ADA recommendations, she files a lawsuit against the business, and the business either makes the corrections or faces penalties.

i have no problem with this.  businesses should be accessible to all individuals.  but some people are finding issue with her method:  she files suit, then visits the business.  the law firm she files with encourages her to do so becos they supposedly make money off the lawsuits. insane, right?

two of the businesses with suits pending explained how this has affected them.  these businesses are in older buildings, making ADA changes a bit of a challenge.  one eatery changed doorways, improved bathrooms, and implemented a portable ramp.  they even offered curbside service.  not good enough, according to the lawsuit.  another restaurant, who thought their bathroom was compliant prior to the lawsuit, found out that the law's standards had changed since previous remodeling, rendering their "ADA appropriate rest room" invalid.  both businesses explained that they could implement improvements, but not without cost.  one business even admitted that their business risked closure becos improvements were just too expensive.  another business, originally told that their building had been "grandfathered" in and massive improvements were't necessary were finding out the opposite.  

i feel badly for these businesses.  this is a tough economy where many are already struggling;  it's unfair that a business might have to close becos the ADA compliant sink they installed 5 years ago will have to be removed becos the standards changed by an inch.  

i have no idear how hard it is for people with disabilities to go about their business in a world that's assimilated to "normal people".  i do know how frustrating it is to move about my town's library with a twin stroller - the door frames are too narrow, the children's room is upstairs (and carrying two kiddos up and the down the steps is not only daunting but also dangerous).  alas, my library is exempt, becos it is in a historic dwelling.  

i do admire this woman's drive.  everyone should have proper access to a building.  i just wish she would expend her energy into guiding a business into compliance instead of suing the tar out of it.

i was unable to find yesterday's article.  HERE is another article, dated earlier this year, explaining the lawsuits.

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