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Score One for Disability Rights

LostClown's picture

Note: This is the same article DCBlogger links to (why didn't I think of that? at least copy/paste isn't hard)

On September 11th the Senate passed S. 3406, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. This is a big effing deal for people with disabilities. Now I'm gonna ask you to send a short email to you reps and ask them to vote for it (it had 77 cosponsors in the Senate (including my own, Patty Murray, who I love, and Hillary Clinton) so hopefully that's some indication that it will easily be passed in the House as well). What is so great about this? It changes the language, it removes some of the worse paragraphs, it gives people with disabilites (more) legal recourse if discriminated against, and it changes the definition of disability as well as putting in writing (thank god-this is something that means a lot to me personally as someone *on* disability who is mostly functional on medication) that the determination of whether or not one has a disability is made without taking into account things that aid in helping the person to lead a "normal" life. Observe:

'(E)(i) The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as--

'(I) medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies;

This is important because the courts ruled in the past that there have been rulings that have said that if such assistive devices improve your life then, viola! you are no longer disabled as in the 1999 case Sutton v. United Airlines. My life is 10x better on medication and I'm continually scared of being kicked off of disability as a result which means no Medicaid and no medication. Whee. What a catch-22. I become almost fully functional with medication and then I am kicked off because I am only fully functional to fall back into my less then desirable state of functioning just to go back on SSI-D and medication. Whee again. And I'm not the only one who lives with this fear.

Back to the legal recourse. Many different types of disabilities were not included and were being discriminated against and not recognised by the courts under the current laws. Non-physical disabilities, i.e. the ones that most people think of when they hear the term 'disability' were generally discriminated against, because, well, if you can't see it it doesn't exist, right? Wrong. And this Bill is changing the laws to make sure that people like me are covered. If the government pays me disability why then am I not included in the ADA? Hmmmm.

In a statement, Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, praised the bill's introduction: "The ADA Amendments Act is the most significant civil rights bill of the 110th Congress. This act will correct narrow court interpretations that have restricted ADA coverage in the workplace, and taken away coverage for people with diabetes, epilepsy, serious heart conditions, mental disabilities, and even cancer."

I am writing first as a HURRAH that this was passed for the 43 million people in the US living with a disability, but also to ask that you do contact your Reps because this bill needs to pass the House. This amendment needs to happen. For me. For the 43 million others and all those undiagnosed. For the people who are usually left behind when talk of civil rights is brought up.

(Oh and while you're at it you should add something about HR 676 single payer healthcare-then no one would have to worry about going without medical care or medication.)

Also, today there were Disability Rights Activists blocking all the doors at McCain's Campaign Headquarters (follow the happenings through Twitter) What are they asking for? Housing! Call McCain headquarters at 703-297-8900 to tell them to get the housing platform to McCain!

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Submitted by hipparchia on

there are a goodly number of people in my family with mental illnesses, some of whom are no longer living precisely because they got caught in the trap you describe -- the drugs work! they're no longer disabled! therefore they no longer need help getting the drugs! so now we can stop giving them money!

thanks for the updates, and i'll definitely be contacting my rep [and thanking my senators if they're among the cosponsors].

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

And yaay for us all. Thanks for the very specific and info-rich post.

LostClown's picture
Submitted by LostClown on

is my knitting. *shakes head*

The happy dance has been in effect all day. I posted this at my other blog (just kind of copy pasted-more traffic here) and I've been getting crazy hits and trackbacks for it (probably thanks to Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Profs) and it just makes me so happy b/c I want a similar percentage of cosponsors in the House. I need this to pass, as do all the other people living with disabilities. I haven't really felt all that inspired lately and I finally get something important and I'm so glad that it's getting around. It needs to. We're not there yet.

(I even cracked open a super splurge from a month ago-an organic English cider. Mmmmmmm. Celebration day!)

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LostClown's picture
Submitted by LostClown on

where s/he mentions hiding medications from insurance companies to keep policy prices down (I assume) that if this doesn't pass (along with HR 676, but this guarantees me, personally, continued healthcare) that I will have
to pay through the nose for health insurance. There's no hiding anything since I've been on SSI-D.

BAH! I want to spend all my time lobbying for this and HR 676. Seriously.

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Submitted by DCblogger on

didn't see this post when I posted mine.