NOT EVERYONE COULD OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES YOU CONQUER DAILY
As someone with a physical or mental disability, you experienced your own unique difficulties. No two disabilities are exactly the same and each disability affects each person differently. Thus, your disability is a unique challenge only to you.
However, you overcame, and continue to overcome, this disability. The adversity made you stronger. It gave you a mental toughness and built your character. Though the disability put you at a disadvantage in one area, the experience made you unassailable in other areas. And through your experiences you continue to conquer your disability.
However, although your disability will always provide you with challenges, one thing that shouldn’t provide you with challenges is society. It’s understandable that a disability may make your day-to-day activities harder. However, society’s attitude shouldn’t add to those difficulties.
IMAGINE A SOCIETY COMPLETELY ACCESSIBLE FOR ALL
Imagine a society in which despite any disability, you could fully, and freely participate. Imagine a society in which you never had to plan in advance, or call ahead, to ensure that a facility or business was accessible. A scenario where independence, or undue burdens, were never an issue. A situation in which you could freely participate, with full autonomy, knowing that you would not encounter any barriers to access.
On July 26th, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act came into law. At the time it was hailed as a legislative achievement and passed the House of Representatives in a unanimous voice vote. The text of the ADA proudly proclaimed that “…disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society…” (42 U.S.C. §12101(a)(1)).
A year later, on July 26th, 1991, the Department of Justice issued the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). These guidelines instructed businesses on how to ensure that their facilities were accessible to persons with disabilities.
On September 15th, 2010, the Department of Justice issued updated guidelines to refine and improve upon the previous standards. The updated guidelines were known as the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. By following the previous or updated standards Businesses could do their part in ensuring that the promises of the ADA, to make a society accessible for all, were realized.
THE ADA BECAME LAW OVER THIRTY-TWO YEARS AGO, YET BUSINESSES STILL REFUSE TO FOLLOW IT.
Sadly, the promise of the ADA that “…disabilities [would] in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society…” went in many ways unheard. (42 U.S.C. §12101(a)(1)).
It was one thing to with a stroke of a pen sign a law into existence, it was quite another to have that law followed. To this day, businesses all over the United States still ignore the requirements of the ADA. Despite the law being in existence for over thirty-two years, most facilities still have barriers to access.
If you familiarize yourself with the requirements of the ADA, what you will soon notice is that not only have many businesses failed to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design but many businesses still are not even in compliance with the 1991 ADA Accessibility Guidelines!
These businesses had thirty-two years to bring their businesses into compliance and still couldn’t be bothered. What other area of the law would they dare to so blatantly disregard? Would these same businesses dare, for example, to ignore the IRS for thirty-two years?
DO YOU WANT TO FOREVER LIVE IN A SOCIETY, IN WHICH YOU ARE NOT HINDERED BY YOUR DISABILITY, BUT BY THE ACTIONS OF OTHERS?
You were born with, or developed, a disability. Through your perseverance you learned how to live with, and overcome your disability. You continue to improve yourself and conquer your disability every day. The government passed laws to protect the disabled. The government drafted detailed regulations to instruct businesses on how to make their facilities accessible. Yet businesses are still inaccessible.
You did your part. The government did its part. Yet businesses still refuse to do their part. You cannot wait for business owners to voluntarily make their properties accessible. You cannot wait on the charity of the uncharitable.
When disabled individuals try to appeal to the conscience or charity of businesses, their pleas or requests often go ignored. You may believe that given that many patrons are disabled that businesses would want to make their facilities accessible. After all, having an accessible business would bring in more customers.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many businesses only begin following the law once the cost of ignoring the rights of the disabled becomes greater than the cost of compliance.
THE LAW RECOGNIZES THAT DISCRIMINATION IS A REAL HARM. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION.
Discrimination has long lasting psychological harm. Especially, the repeated discrimination many disabled people experience every time they leave their home. The discomfort, difficulty, embarrassment, and negative subconscious programing, that a disabled person may experience greatly affects their quality of life. Long term exposure can lead to depression and make someone feel like a second-class citizen. If you have been discriminated against, you deserve damages.
Fortunately, although you are not entitled to compensation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are entitled to compensation under the California Unruh Act and the California Disabled Persons Act.
Both acts state that “a violation of the right of an individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act…[also constitutes]… a violation of this section.” (Cal. Civil Code §51(f) and Cal. Civil Code § 54(c)). Therefore, anytime a disabled person proves their case under the ADA, that person also automatically has proven their case under the California Unruh Act or California Disabled Persons Act.
Proving your case under the California Unruh Act entitles you to damages under Cal. Civil Code §52. According to Cal. Civil Code §52, a disabled person is entitled “…for each and every offense for the actual damages, and any amount that may determined…up to a maximum amount of three times the…actual damages but in no case less than four thousand dollars ($4,000.00) and attorney fees…”
Proving your case under the California Disabled Persons Act entitles to damages under Cal. Civil Code §54.3(a) “…for each offense for the actual damages, and any amount that may determined…up to a maximum amount of three times the…actual damages but in no case less than four thousand dollars ($4,000.00) and attorney fees…”
IT TAKES SOMEONE SPECIAL TO HAVE THE COURAGE TO ADVOCATE FOR WHAT IS RIGHT
Most people will stay silent in the face of injustice. After all, everyone has their own life and their own concerns. Even if you are the one who suffered discrimination, it is often easier just to move on and forget the whole ordeal. It’s scary to stand up against people more powerful than you. The court system can seem overwhelming.
Nevertheless, as hard as it may seem, by standing up for yourself you are standing up for all disabled people. Not everyone has the courage or ability to stand up for their rights. However, you can be one of those proud individuals who does so.
If you have read above, you are aware that if you have faced discrimination as a disabled person you are entitled to compensation under the ADA (through the Unruh Act or California Disabled Persons Act). However, in addition to compensation, you can also make society better for the disabled.
The ADA has a provision to prevent discrimination in the future. According to 42 U.S.C. §12188(a)(2), a disabled individual can sue for “…injunctive relief…to alter facilities to make such facilities readily accessible…to individuals with disabilities…[and] shall also include…requiring the provision of an auxiliary aid or service [and] modification of a policy…”
Therefore, by bringing a lawsuit under the ADA you can force a business to modify their facilities or their policies and procedures to ensure that the business will be accessible to other disabled persons in the future.
WILL YOU IGNORE THE DISCRIMINATION FACED BY OTHER DISABLED PERSONS?
You have the ability to help out the disabled community right now. By advocating for your rights, you can make facilities accessible for other disabled persons. You can bring awareness, education, and create a culture of respect. You can remind business owners of their obligations to all members of the community.
Disabled individuals are some of the most resilient people. Oftentimes, their disabilities have forced them to grow and overcome many obstacles. No doubt you are stronger than you realize.
However, just as a fully abled body person cannot understand the challenges a disabled person may encounter, no two disabled persons have the same disability. Therefore, what may be easy for you may not be easy for another disabled person. Other disabled individuals may need your help.
You can help out the disability community today. It starts with a phone call. To schedule your consultation with Mr. Malakauskas, call 702-936-6935, or send a message through the simple online inquiry form below.