Civil Rights, Disability, and Business Communities Applaud Senate Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Media 09.11,08


Washington, DC – Today, the Senate expressed overwhelming bipartisan support for the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act by unanimously passing the bill by voice vote.  The bill included over 77 bipartisan co-sponsors.


The bill went to the Senate floor today after it was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives in late June, and has enjoyed wide support on both sides of the aisle, as well as among employers, civil rights and disability advocates, who have formed an uncommon alliance around the legislation.


The ADA Amendments Act will correct narrow court interpretations that have restricted ADA coverage in the workplace, and taken away coverage for individuals with diabetes, epilepsy, serious heart conditions, mental disabilities, and cancer.  The act will also clarify responsibilities for employers.


Leaders from the groups issued the following statements on today’s expected passage of the ADA Amendments Act:

“We applaud the action of the U.S. Senate today on this important piece of legislation.  This legislation does much to promote the rights of people with hearing loss and we urge the president to take swift action and sign this bill into law.” Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Executive Director Alexander T. Graham [Press contact: Catherine Murphy (808) 938-7080 or (202) 204-4687]

“This is the most important piece of disability legislation since the enactment of the ADA in 1990, and we are close enough to the finish line that we can see over.  Today’s Senate vote is another historic step on the road toward fair treatment of people with disabilities and chronic health conditions in the U.S. workplace. This vote demonstrates the broad-based bipartisan support for the need to restore protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to people with epilepsy, depression, diabetes, cancer and host of other conditions who have been interpreted out of the ADA by a callous majority of the U.S. Supreme Court.” – American Association of People with Disabilities President and CEO Andrew Imparato [Press contact: Rebecca Panoff (407) 617-9891]


“We applaud the Senate for their commitment to protecting the rights of Americans with disabilities and for acting today to pass this landmark civil rights legislation. The strong bipartisan support that we have seen for this bill tells us that the U.S. Senate values the integrity of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We are pleased that the Americans with Disabilities Act has been strengthened to once again protect people with diabetes from employment discrimination.” – American Diabetes Association CEO Larry Hausner [Press contact: Shana Starkand (703) 549-1500 ext. 2622]


“The Senate has joined the House today and unequivocally recognized the necessity of protecting the rights of all Americans, including those who live with disability. The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act will lead to a diversified workforce, stronger communities, and people with disabilities and their families living with independence and dignity alongside their neighbors. In particular, individuals with intellectual disabilities who have been previously disenfranchised by court misinterpretation will regain protection from discrimination. There’s not a single family in American who won’t be touched by this bill.” – The Arc of the United States Executive Director Peter Berns


“This is a huge step forward for adults with AD/HD and those with related disorders.  Dealing with workplace issues and obtaining services can be daunting for the millions of people living with this disorder. If the president signs this into law, people with AD/HD will face fewer obstacles.” – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) CEO E. Clarke Ross [Press contact: Cindy Smith (301) 306-7070, ext. 138]


“Hundreds of disability groups across the nation have worked for over a decade to restore the discrimination protection promised to individuals with disabilities under the original Americans with Disabilities Act.  This galvanized effort has met with extraordinary bipartisan support, and today the Senate has brought us within reach of a lasting solution. The Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities looks forward to final action in the House and urges President Bush to help us begin a new chapter in true justice for all.” – Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Chairperson Marty Ford


“We’re pleased to see the Senate pass this bill intended to restore protections under the ADA — prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities and providing millions of Americans the chance to participate fully in American life. Nearly 20 years ago, Congress made a major contribution to the lives of people with disabilities by enacting the landmark ADA, helping to fulfill Easter Seals mission to ensure that people living with autism and other disabilities have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play.” – Easter Seals President and Chief Executive Officer James E. Williams, Jr.


“This is a major victory for people with epilepsy who have seen their protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act disappear over the last decade.  We salute the Congressional leaders who helped to make this historic legislation possible.”–Epilepsy Foundation president and CEO Eric R. Hargis [Press contact: Kimberli Meadows (301) 520-6656]


“This legislation will go a long way to make it clear that under the ADA, people with hearing loss can use their hearing aids and assistive listening devices on the job to help them be active and involved employees. We thank the Senate for acting on this important bill.” – Hearing Loss Association of America Executive Director Brenda Battat [Press contact: Lise Hamlin (301) 657-2248]


“Today’s Senate passage of the ADA Amendments Act gives the nation a glimpse of the legislative process at its highest and best. No narrow partisan politics marred the way to reinstating a vulnerable class of people with disabilities who had been excluded by narrow court decisions from the law’s protections. We look forward to the bill’s swift signing by President Bush.” – Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin [Press contact: Maggie Kao (202) 466-2735]


“Remarkably, in this era of partisan wrangling, everyone came to the table in the Senate to pass this landmark legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.  The NAM is proud to have worked with disability, civil rights, employer groups and Members of Congress and Senators on both sides of the aisle to address the workforce needs of manufacturers in America.” – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Executive Vice President Jay Timmons [Press contact: Laura Narvaiz (202) 637-3104]


“As a society, we are obligated to remove barriers to justice and equality. We are thrilled that the Senate has acted to restore the intent of the original ADA, and restore the rights of hard-working Americans who deserve to live free from discrimination.” – National Council of Jewish Women President Nancy Ratzan


“Today, the Senate has moved us a step closer to reversing a decade of misguided rulings by the Supreme Court and lower courts on the Americans with Disabilities Act.  With the House of Representatives’ concurrence and President Bush’s signature, the 70% of unemployed Americans with disabilities will have the opportunity to seek redress for instances of employment discrimination on the merits of their case.  NCIL is proud to have collaborated with our colleagues in the disability and business communities to get the ADA Amendments Act through the Senate.” – National Council on Independent Living Executive Director John Lancaster [Press contact: Deborah Cotter (202) 207-0334, ext. 1008]


“NDRN applauds the bipartisan work of the congress to pass this critical legislation. We stand ready to assure that the full promise of the ADA is realized in the expanded employment of people with disabilities.”– National Disability Rights Network Executive Director Curt Decker [Press contact: Matt Hayden (202) 408-9514, ext. 128]


“Leviticus 19:14 reads, ‘You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.’ There can no clearer teaching that we have an obligation to ensure equal access for all and to help facilitate the full participation of individuals with disabilities in religious and public life. The Reform Jewish Movement is committed to combating discrimination and intolerance, and today we reaffirm our belief that the restoration of full civil rights to the disabled community is of crucial importance to this struggle.” – Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Director Rabbi David Saperstein and RAC Senior Advisor on Disability Issues Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, [Press contact: S. Kathryn Bigam (202) 387-2800]


“Today’s passage of the ADA Amendment Act is a victory for employees and employers.  This legislation strengthens the rights of individuals with disabilities. SHRM and the HR profession strongly support this balanced approach that corrects court decisions that have limited the effectiveness of the original ADA.” – Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Acting President and CEO China Miner Gorman, SPHR [Press contact: Samantha Anderson (773) 456-1456]


“This is a great day for people with disabilities, their families and employers.  Today, by passing the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, a strong, bi-partisan Senate brought us one step closer to the level playing field Americans with disabilities were promised almost two decades ago under the Americans with Disabilities Act: equal opportunity to live, work and contribute as part of the larger American landscape. I strongly urge the House and President Bush to continue in this bi-partisan effort and get ADA Amendments Act passed and signed into law this year.” – United Cerebral Palsy President and CEO Stephen Bennett


“United Spinal Association is deeply grateful to the Senate for passing the ADA Amendments Act. The Act will protect all people with disabilities, but we owe a special debt of gratitude to the honorable men and women who have become disabled in the service of our country. The bill will help make sure they are protected from unlawful discrimination when they recover enough to re-enter the workforce.” – United Spinal Association President and CEO Paul Tobin [Press contact: Peggy Hathaway (917) 685-6907]


“We are pleased that the Senate has passed the ADA Amendments Act and urge the House to take up the legislation and pass it quickly and send it on to the President for signature. After many months of negotiation, the legislation represents a sound compromise between the Senate, the House, the business community, and the disability community. We urge that it be enacted quickly and signed into law.” – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits Randel K. Johnson [Press contact: Eric Wohlschlegel (202) 463-5682]