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Sometimes the "Letter of the Law" conflicts with "common sense" ...
Defining and Finding "True" Accessibility

Illustration: An ADA Enforcement Lawyer reviews an Equal Access case.[3] Why the Government Can't Do It For You

When the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was first passed by Congress and signed into law in 1990, it was heralded as a major legislative victory for America's "largest minority group."

Although various other civil rights bills had been passed over the years, the Americans with Disabilities Act was regarded as the first comprehensive Civil Rights legislation in the World for people with disabilities. And yes, the ADA has been very helpful in many ways for those who are disabled to achieve a greater measure of "equal treatment" since it became law.

But what if your particular disability doesn't make it necessary for you to limit your travels to only places that are "fully ADA compliant" in all respects?

Since people's individual disabilities do tend to vary considerably as to both their nature and degree, official "ADA standards" may be more stringent than necessary to accommodate some people's disabilities ... or not stringent enough to accommodate the disabilities of others.

In a practical sense, it probably will never be realistically possible for anyone to devise a set of accessibility standards that will completely accommodate the needs of "everyone" with any disability regardless of the nature or extent of each individual's particular disability.

Consequently, you – as an individual – cannot expect the Government, or anybody else, to ever be able to define with precision what is or is not "barrier-free" for you personally.

And that's why you must always be prepared to be your own advocate.

Case in point: The ADA Administration's "Readily-Achievable Barrier Removal" Policy

The ADA Administration does not strictly enforce many of their accessibility requirements, because over the years they realized that for existing facilities, full compliance with all the provisions of the ADA could be prohibitively expensive - or even impossible - for some businesses, organizations and professional offices ... and that strict ADA enforcement might be likely to end up putting some businesses out of business.

In their efforts to be fair and even-handed, the ADA folks adopted a more gentle approach in August,1995, encouraging (rather than forcing) non-ADA-compliant businesses and organizations to make gradual changes to improve their accessibility as time and finances permit, with tax credits to help offset the costs of compliance.

The ADA folks called this approach their "readily-achievable barrier removal" policy. And we're always glad when we see the Federal Government shun the heavy-handed tactics that were seen far too frequently over the years.

However, while the ADA Administration's relaxed policy certainly does ease the immediate burden for businesses, and will still gradually improve things for people with disabilities, it doesn't necessarily help people with disabilities to feel very confident OR safe right now.

Most people with disabilities know — or soon find out — that "barrier removal" at some places may NOT be "readily achievable" ... OR that some business owners (or their employees, or their landlords) really don't care about trying to accommodate prospective customers who just don't happen to fit the "norm."

Consequently, for many people with disabilities, a simple shopping trip can become a fearful — and potentially dangerous — adventure unless they already know that their intended destination is going to be sufficiently accessible ... for them!

Without the information that Disabled Americans need to navigate to wherever they want to go, America's grand promise of "equal opportunity" is just an empty promise ... for them!

That's why BarrierFreeChoices was created. We help fulfill America's promise by gathering and providing detailed and comprehensible consumer information that most disabled Americans (and their families) can use in planning their activities. And we present this information in a practical, objective and usable format that helps to level the playing field for all Americans.

Achieving "Equal Treatment" doesn't always happen overnight:

Like any other Civil Rights legislation, the ADA does have its deficiencies when viewed from the standpoint of those whom that legislation was intended to benefit. And sometimes achieving a true measure of "equality" can take an extremely long time indeed ...

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