Have you ever gone out to a restaurant only to discover there is no accessible parking? Or worse yet, you get into the restaurant and need to use the facilities only to discover the restrooms are not wheelchair accessible? Even 27 years after the ADA was enacted, many establishments are not in compliance with the accessibility laws. But you need not feel helpless or discouraged. There is a remedy and it is not as difficult as you may think. In fact it can be quite easy.
The first thing I do when encountering barriers, is to discuss the issues with the owner or manager, if possible. I have found most owners are receptive to modifying their businesses. However, if I return and no changes have been made or I feel like they are taking too long, I file an ADA claim. So far I’ve had a 100 percent success rate. But be forewarned, it usually takes several months before the Department of Justice even reads your claim. Then it can take months or over a year for them to get the establishment up to code. However, it is a wonderful feeling to get a letter from the DOJ advising you that your claim has been resolved and changes are forthcoming. Most times, the DOJ works with the establishment to not only correct the violations addressed in your claim, but also to correct other ADA violations. Less than a few hours of work on your part results in a more accessible world for hundreds of thousands of people.
Photo by iamchanelle photography
Filing an ADA Complaint is Easy
The form is very simple to complete.
Another way to file the claim is to contact directly the assistant attorney general assigned to your state. When I filed my complaint for a Connecticut establishment, the assistant attorney general told me to contact her office in the future if I had another claim. She said it would be processed much faster than if I went through the main DOJ website.
I did contact her office directly when I had a subsequent claim. Her assistant took the information over the telephone and filed the claim for me. It was pretty easy. That claim is still under investigation.
If we don’t care enough to take the time to protect our disability rights, who will? Nothing takes away the sting of disability discrimination. Yet, there is a great satisfaction in doing something about it. Imagine if we all started now filing legitimate ADA claims how different our world would be in the years to come. Go for it.