Electric EDGE
Web Edition of The Ragged Edge
January/February 1997
Electric Edge

ADA Watch'n'Wait

by Mary Jane Owen

On January 1, Congress is obligated to comply with the same disability access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act which that body enacted over the rest of society just over six years ago. Congress has tended to behave like the proverbial parent who asserts, "Do as I say, not as I do." So many among us considered the reform initiative which ordered Congress to comply with those regulations it imposed on others a positive act: the bridging of a previous gap in federal protections.

But is that how it will play out? Congress did very little to prepare for its ADA deadline. Could those members of Congress who never really liked the disabilities law be anticipating that their colleagues' eventual recognition of the actual costs and effort required to comply with the Act could drive a stake through the heart of our civil rights law?

Do you think some members of the Senate and House of Representatives might possibly see Congressional compliance with such a law as a strategy to persuade fellow lawmakers, who might otherwise support our gains in civil rights, that some aspects of the law present too great a burden to be tolerated? Does the thought of such a strategy seem paranoid?

Don't forget: Even paranoid people face enemies.

Mary Jane Owen is director of the National
Catholic Office of Persons with Disabilities.

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