Saturday, June 14, 2014

I'm Sad to See Some People with Disabilities are OK with being Excluded

I saw this article the other day about how a restaurant was sued for not being in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Essentially, the restaurant was not accessible for people with disabilities when, legally, it was required to be.  Keep in mind that some small businesses are exempt and that many very old buildings are exempt and that the law generally requires only "reasonable" accommodations.  For instance, the law might require a business to install a ramp so customers that use wheelchairs could get up two steps to the entrance but it would not require a small business in a building that was built 100 years ago to install an elevator at great expense so that customers that use wheelchairs could access the second floor. 

So the restaurant that got sued said they could not afford to comply with the ADA and that they could not afford to fight the lawsuit (which I guess they would lose, anyway), so instead the owners decided they had to just close their business.  The owners also made a bunch of excuses, like they didn't know they were out of compliance, no one told them (well, it's no one's job to tell them, business owners are responsible for finding out what laws apply to them and following those laws; try telling the IRS you didn't pay your taxes because you didn't know you had to and no one told you, and see how well that goes over), the building was out of compliance when they bought it so it wasn't really their responsibility (huh?), they weren't given enough time to comply, etc.

What has surprised and saddened me is the number of people with disabilities who have made comments along the lines of thinking it was unfair for someone to sue the restaurant, that someone should have just nicely let them know they were out of compliance (as if they would have said oh, thanks for letting us know, and fixed it, instead of making all the same excuses for not complying if only they'd been told nicely), and that the person who sued was in the wrong, not the restaurant owners who were actually violating the law.  Well, I guess it's not very nice to sue someone, but you know, it's not very nice to violate the law in order to keep people with disabilities out of your business, either.  And when you violate the law, people are not required to be nice to you.  And why on earth would people blame those who were excluded unfairly from the restaurant instead of the restaurant owners that violated the law?

Apparently some people with disabilities are OK with being excluded.  They'd rather be "nice" than be included.  They think it's more important to be nice than to insist that business owners comply with laws that give them access to businesses.  They are more concerned with the rights of business owners than with their own civil rights.  Not just the rights of business owners, but the privileges of business owners.  Even though these business owners were violating the law, they are concerned that they lost their business and lost money.  They feel that's more important than their right to access a business. 

And that's sad to me.  Really sad.

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