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The progressive blogosphere has been absolutely critical in recent months in helping Democrats keep the pressure on the Bush Administration and Republicans on a wide range of issues. I witnessed the incredible power of your efforts first hand last week when I spoke with you about the Republican filibuster of the Levin-Reed Amendment. The words of encouragement and gratitude that you expressed towards me in that post were truly overwhelming and I cannot thank you enough for your kind words.

I am writing to you today because an issue that is very dear to me is under attack and I need your help.

As many of you may know, my late brother lost his hearing at a young age and I witnessed firsthand the difficulties people with disabilities endure everyday. It was that experience that drove me to work hard to ensure civil rights protections were extended to every individual regardless of a current, past, or perceived disability through the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act seventeen years ago.

Unfortunately this hard work is being undone as the ADA has come under attack from a series of court decisions that have ignored Congress' clear legislative intent regarding who should be protected. The courts have drastically narrowed the category of who qualifies as person with a disability.

That is why I have offered the ADA Restoration Act of 2007 to undo the damage done by the courts and to clarify the intent of the ADA.

I hope that you show your support for my bill and for disability rights by blogging about this issue and encouraging your friends and family to sign my petition to tell Congress to restore the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Thanks to the decisions of the courts, many people whom Congress intended to protect under the ADA - such as those with epilepsy, diabetes, and cancer - are no longer protected. For example, a person suffering from epilepsy is now forced to choose between treating their condition and forfeiting their protections under the ADA or not taking their medication and being protected.  

This was not the original intent of the ADA and I hope you will help me send a loud and clear message to the courts that a person with a disability lives with that disability regardless of whether or not they are currently treating their symptoms.  

Please click here to join me and a bipartisan group of legislators and disability rights advocates by signing my petition to tell Congress to pass this legislation today.

The ADA has done so much to break down barriers so that people with disabilities can fully participate in our society, have equal opportunities, experience independent living, and become economically self-sufficient.

However, the attacks on the ADA from the courts threaten each of these four extremely important pillars and unless Congress takes action to restore and strengthen the original intent of this critical civil rights law, I am afraid that Americans with disabilities will no longer be protected from discrimination and able to freely experience everything our great nation has to offer.

Please take a moment to sign my petition and tell your friends, family and fellow bloggers to sign it too.

Thank you for your continued support.
--Senator Tom Harkin

P.S. My staff and I will be monitoring the comments on this post and I will try to respond to some of your questions as soon as time permits.

Originally posted to Senator Tom Harkin on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 10:42 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you, Senator. (38+ / 0-)

    Disabled Americans are too often forgotten about and I thank you for remembering their struggle. I'm also glad to hear that this is a bipartisan initiative considering this fight has absolutely nothing to do with partisanship.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"

    by dem4evr on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 10:37:33 AM PDT

    •  Bill number? Link to legislation text? (9+ / 0-)

      Sorry to jump under the first comment, but this would be very helpful information.

      Thank you, Senator Harkin, for your work on this issue!

      "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not." -- Dr. Seuss

      by AnnieJo on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:32:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This Issue takes on Greater Poignancy (8+ / 0-)

      When you consider disabled vets.  

      •  Disabled Vets drove its passage (6+ / 0-)

        and President Bush (the one actually elected) signed it into law in 1992.  As an architect I know its history and implications intimately as it has affected our profession profoundly ever since then.  

        Basically, it is a civil rights act and initially was not written into buildings codes but only gradually enacted over time.  A facility was only in violation when a complaint of violation was made after construction was completed, and the claims were often made by the veterans groups themselves.  Resolution often involved monetary settlements and renovation of the offending sites. There was one case involving lack of wheelchair access at an arena where the ADA seating areas were rendered useless when surrounding patrons stood and blocked the wheelchair user's sight lines.  That's just one example of the pitfalls for all involved, and while I will admit to more than the occasional frustration in designing to conform- both to the spatial complications as well as costs of accomodating ramps, lifts, clearances, etc... we architects have gradually adopted to it over time, (as have all the codes) and agree it has all been for the better.

  •  Thank you, Senator Harkin (27+ / 0-)

    This bill is vitally important.  I urge everyone to contact your member of Congress and ask him or her to support the ADA Restoration Act.

    Melissa Kasnitz, Managing Attorney
    Disability Rights Advocates

    Disability Rights Advocates[] -- Fighting for justice for disabled veterans

    by mwk on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 10:40:11 AM PDT

  •  Will do, Senator (21+ / 0-)

    In my work every day I see how people with disabilities are discriminated against in employment, and the struggles many have with daily life.

    Now, will you support us and call for the impeachment of Alberto Gonzales?  Cheney and Bush will come, but Alberto needs to be out of office like yesterday.

    Thank you.

    Prematurely anti-Bush since 1999.

    by Dallasdoc on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 10:40:16 AM PDT

  •  This is a good law (25+ / 0-)

    that has a positive and measurable impact on the everyday lives of Americans.  Any company that fears the ADA is a company that hasn't done it's homework.  Reasonable accommodations are not a burden and are far outweighed by the contributions of a diverse and engaged workforce.  ADA must be upheld and strengthened.

  •  Thank you Sen. Harkin (16+ / 0-)

    Done. And I am sending your request to everyone on my e-mail list.

    "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" Wm. Shakespeare, "Macbeth"

    by TheMomCat on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 10:45:23 AM PDT

  •  I will sign with pride. (20+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for standing up for the people who need you the most.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 10:45:51 AM PDT

  •  Thank you Senator Harkin (16+ / 0-)

    I've signed your petition, and I encourage anyone who is reading your diary to also sign.

    Your efforts 17 years ago - to be undone by the courts in a manner that was never intended; how sad is that, especially now that the same battle must be fought again?

    We've got your back, and we thank you for your efforts in the fight to protect disabled Americans.  

  •  Senator Harkin, our disabled people have my (12+ / 0-)

    support. I am aghast at the setbacks to our society done by judges' decisions across our nation - usually to help some corporation's profits or to please the harsh judgement of right-wing idealogues.

    I wish a society that recognizes the rights of any and all - right to life, liberty and happiness. For sure, with you, Sen. Harkin leading the way, we will once again become a progressive nation implementing the values of the founders of our democracy.

  •  Thank you. (10+ / 0-)

    As one of those people with medical disabilities I applaud your work on this issue.  There's never been adequate support, and in the past few years, we've seen what support there was dry up.  There are so many people who can live very productive and satisfying lives with just minimal accommodation.  As if we needed to be reminded, we are an aging population...if  one is not directly affected by disability now, its almost certain that one day almost everyone will be...either personally, or through caring for loved ones.

    This is everyone's issue.

  •  Thanks Senator (8+ / 0-)

    maybe you guys should skip the recess, and pass a bunch of bills while your craven opponents head home to shake down their corporate constituents.

  •  thank you Senator! (9+ / 0-)

    the ADA has been very important with my family.

    you are always in our thoughts because of how your leadership on this issue has made a difference in my cousin's life.

  •  Paratransit and accessible transportation (15+ / 0-)

    Senator Harkin,

    Thank you for your commitment to reforming and updating the ADA, a crucial piece of legislation.  I am currently working heavily on paratransit research and analysis, looking over the effectiveness of the alternative transportation buses created to provide comparable services to the disabled.  It is clear to me that the open holes in the ADA allowing municipalities to contract service out to private companies is destroying the concept of paratransit service.  These private companies are notorious for shoddy service, late arrivals, and a lack of efficient measures due to their safe contract status.  We need to either improve the competitiveness of these contracts or mandate that municipalities may not contract out and must provide the services through the county or city.  Public transportation systems are much more effective than these private contracts.  We owe it to the disabled to provide true comparable services.

    Fact are stubborn things. -John Adams

    by circlesnshadows on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:04:35 AM PDT

  •  Signing it now, thank you! (10+ / 0-)

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention -- and for you all you are doing.

  •  the WaPo series on Cheney (19+ / 0-)

    reiterated that the reason Jim Jeffords quit the GOP, shortly after BushCo took power, was over funding to educate people with disabilities. Cheney took a principled stand not to help the most vulnerable among us.

    And where did the money go? To fund the first term tax cuts... It was apparently all part of the same discussion with Jeffords! Cheney sure has his principles, doesn't he?

  •  Senator ... (12+ / 0-)

    as a person who uses advanced hearing aids, lives with arthritis in my hips, knees, ankles and hands, and other manifistations of Turner's Syndrome, THANK YOU! I completely agree.

    I would also ask that the rules for receiving a scooter from Medicare or Medicaid be changed to include lack of mobility OUTSIDE the house. My husband, who had Congestice Heart Failure, Diabetes, and End Stage Renal Disease, was not able to get a scooter from them, because he could slowly walk the limited distances inside the house.(Please forgive the capital letters, just for emphasis, not for yelling.)

          With gratitude,

  •  Thank you, Senator Harkin (8+ / 0-)

    The ADA has indeed been undercut by courts. Reportedly, there is almost no chance of a successful ADA case in some jurisdictions.

    I have signed your petition and fowarded the link to those in my address book, and wish you success.

    Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist. - Edmund Burke

    by Deep Harm on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:10:37 AM PDT

  •  Signed! (7+ / 0-)

    Thank you Senator Harkin.  As a person living with AIDS I enjoy protections from the ADA.  I would not like for those protections to be eroded at all.  I have watched with horror as the courts have begun to limit some of the protections afforded by the ADA. I wonder, am I next?  I have happily signed your petition.  Please get this bill passed.

    "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed." Abe Lincoln

    by mdgarcia on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:12:14 AM PDT

  •  signed! (8+ / 0-)

    I will also urge support from my Senators Casey and Specter.

    As a CWA member who works in assisting union members with their health care and disibilities issues, I know first hand the impact of ADA and the erosion it is currently facing.

    Your work both honors your brother and benefits millions of Americans.

    Thank You!

    If CEO's and their brethern have employment contracts, why do they insist that their employees don't need one?

    by JDPITALIA on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:12:44 AM PDT

  •  An OT Thank you, Senator Harkin (13+ / 0-)

    My husband, Dan, was a Vietnam vet and POW, who was tortured my his North Vietnamese captors. He lived with his injuries for over thirty years, until his fatal heart attack two years ago. He nightmare screams still hunt my sleep.

    Thank you for co-sponsoring the Restore the Constitution Act, S576. As you know, this legislation has been introduced by Senator Chris Dodd and referred to the Armed Services Committee.
    It would restore Habeas Corpus and the Geneva Conventions as the law of the United States.
    Thank you for standing up against torture.

    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is doing it to whom.
    For Dan,

    •  Thanks for sharing about your husband and his (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      torture or anyone else's is always wrong.  The Restore the Constitution Act, S576 is an important piece of legislation I have also been tracking.

      The restoration of Habeas Corpus and returning tot he guidelines provided by the Geneva Conventions is the only sane policy concerning torture.

      Sorry to hear about your late hub's torture and I agree wholeheartedly with your position of the wrongness of torture any place to anyone.


      WWYTR? Voting, contributing, supporting, and electing Democrats

      by PaintyKat on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:37:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fund IDEA (19+ / 0-)

    Senator, if you want to help Americans with disabilities, get our federal government to do a better job funding IDEA. States and localities are fighting with taxpayers about whether to have reasonable tax rates or good schools because a lot of local funds are going to fulfill federal mandates. If IDEA was funded, we could have reasonable tax rates and good schools.

    (As the Senator and his staff knows, IDEA is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the federal government underfunds it by ten billion dollars each year.)

    Thompson, Giuliani, Romney, and McCain support the Son Of A Bush War

    by Reino on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:23:09 AM PDT

    •  And Strengthen IDEA (10+ / 0-)

      Some of the changes to IDEA under the Bush watch have been awful for parents trying to get districts to provide FAPE to their children.

      •  Where are you? What are you having (5+ / 0-)

        difficulties with specifically? LRE? Assistants? I would be very interested in hearing your story/ies. I teach spec ed in TN, and have a good knowledge of the law. Maybe we could exchange info, ideas? Just fyi!

        "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

        by Unduna on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:07:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just a general Resistance to Spending Money (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Reino, PaintyKat, political girl, Unduna, elie

          To go "outside" what is already offered if the child needs it.  I happen to be very aggressive and have commenced due process proceedings twice.  Both times the school settled, paid my attorney fees and gave my son what he needed.

          However, not everyone is as aggressive as me.  I have seen a number of children denied the same services I receive and told "we don't do that."  

          However, the Bush era changes make had a chilling effect on parent's ability to bring proceedings.  The provisions tightening up when parents can get attorney's fees refunded, and stating that parents have to repay the school for their attorney fees if they lose are just awful.  

          •  Gotcha. (5+ / 0-)

            Yep. It's bad.

            And oh, yes, the fight is so diffficult even when you do know what your rights are. Parents who don't know their rights are so intimidated, they feel so paralyzed.  And I, as a teacher, am in a tough bind when it comes to telling them. I do it, god knows I do it, but I have to be very careful. I can land in a world of shit. Teaching spec ed and giving a damn is to be aware that your life is like being complcit in a federal crime on a daily basis. Exhausting.

            There are parents who can't read, or can't read well, and parents who assume that they just can't get it or do what needs to be done. Empowering the parent to become their child's Advocate #1 is a difficult, but truly satisfying, part of my job. Who knew that I would end up feeling comfy and welcome in the projects... I'm usually the only person in the building who thinks of parents as allies and partners. Teaching special ed is most definitely a Family Thing!!!

            Anyway, kudos to you, Activist Parent! You smooth the way for others. Don't ever forget that what you do for you and yours is an act of justice for all of us. Bless you. I hope ya'll have a great school year.

            "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

            by Unduna on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:49:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Even When Parents Know their Rights (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Reino, mcfly, political girl

              They're intimidated.  I live in an extremely wealthy community.  Parents here know their children's rights.  However, they want to "make nice" and "not make a fuss."  

              The schools basically figure out who the "make nice" parents are and how the "problem" parents are pretty quickly.  Needless to say, the children of "make nice" parents get the shaft.

              •  And the children of the "problem" (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                PaintyKat, mcfly

                parents can get the shaft, too. It's just the shaft with a twist....

                An enormous amount of progress depends on the attitude of the teacher. If the teacher works to get the good info that all parents have about the child and their broader life, about what the family would like to see, what they can partner in, etc., and practices good follow-through, then the relationship can cease to be so adversarial (sp?) and problem solving can become a creative and productive joy as opposed to a legal fight.

                Resources are, well... an interesting variable. There are a great many positive possibilties, ways to allocate and adjust productively, but administrations have GOT to see the broader picture, the holistic benefits for school-wide learning practices, in successfully addressing the needs of even one exceptional child. Differentiated instruction, creative and economic use of assistants, brain-based practice, etc., all can lead to a stronger learning community with better scores across the board. Special education, our practices and perpectives, could really inform the national debate on education. But we remain the freaks, the second-class citizens, the money drain, the scary legal mine-field. The teachers and the children have so much to offer the entire field of education, but no one seems to be listening. What a fucking shame. We have got to start focusing on partnerships, though. We have to start there, somehow. Not to mention that parent partnership is, of course, the law, and for good f'n reason. Like you'd ever know...

                Too bad the parents in your community aren't working together to improve practices. It's very hard to go it alone. It's a whole lot easier to stand up together, take it a step at a time, change the paradigms a little each day, and then the whole school benefits. Again, it's just such a shame.

                Again, best of luck to you and yours.

                "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

                by Unduna on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01:46:59 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I Always Get along with the Teachers (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  PaintyKat, Unduna

                  It's the sped director that's the problem because she's the "money lady."  In our district she has to approve every dime spent.

                  Although technically not allowed under IDEA, the sped director here has to approve every service offered to a child.  If something in brought up in a PPT that hasn't been "pre-approved" the school staff team members present can't agree to it if the sped director is not otherwise present.

                  The sped director is responsible for the overall sped budget--and let's just say that she wouldn't be around very long if she said yes to frequently.

                  It all comes down to money.  The staff is great and really want what's best for the children, but the administration has made it clear that they are not to advocate for the children.  

                  •  Yep. Same here. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    That's one of the things that I meant by "complicit in a federal crime". I heard, reliably, that in one district in Memphis the supervisor told teachers that if they put assistive technology in an IEP that they would have to pay for it themselves. Lovely, eh? And brazen as hell. Assistive technology has it's own section in IDEIA, it's not like they can even pretend that they are flying under the legal radar on this. It's insane. They really don't seem to care if they break the law, they really don't. Just getting Handwriting Without Tears is like pulling teeth, never mind getting a para-pro so we can do LRE. Nuts.

                    I'm delighted that you are happy with your teachers. That's very important, obviously. But what you say is so true - we are screwed. We try, we really do, but it is really only the parent that can swing the punches. That's why "make nice" parents are soooooo frustrating. My job really is a freakin' mine-field, I desperately need parents to be on board.

                    But get this - I love my job, I really do. I feel like my patron saint is Robin Hood, but hey, there could be worse role models!

                    "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

                    by Unduna on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:22:54 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  i would love for you to write a diary (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Reino, PaintyKat, bluebrain

          regarding your knowledge of special ed law.  maybe even a series of diaries because i have noticed a lot of discussion on this topic in education and disabilities diaries.

          •  Ok, I'll definitely think about that. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Reino, bluebrain, elie

            I like explaining things, I get a weird kick out of that, so I'll definitely give it a go when I get the time. Thanks for the heads up, if the community would like to have that sort of thing I'd certainly be happy to give it go!

            "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

            by Unduna on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01:19:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Would very much like to see you do (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              a diary or even start a series with other service providers or those teaching or involved in the provision of services to those folks with disabilities.


              WWYTR? Voting, contributing, supporting, and electing Democrats

              by PaintyKat on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:41:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ok, thanks for the vote! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Anything in particular? Giving an overview/breakdown of the law seems like a good place to start to me because that in and of itself would address both the legal issues and the educational best-practices issues in one place, since that is what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does. But I would like to know what members of the community are particularly concerned about, because of course I'd like to address those concerns if I can.

                Thanks again for letting me know that you would like a diary on this. That's another vote that makes me feel like it would be worthwhile.

                "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

                by Unduna on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 03:00:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  IDEA is underfunded as a matter of Republican (14+ / 0-)

      principle — it is what caused Jeffords to leave the party, in fact.

      The debate was between funding IDEA or giving tax cuts. The GOP tax cuts won.

      I see the tragic results of this decision every day here in Los Angeles.

      •  Try Living in a Small Town (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Reino, mcfly, Unduna, elie, Ninepatch

        Where some 90% of the town budget goes to education.  You can literally see the Finance Board thinking how every dollar spent on education is another $.02 they have to pay in property taxes.

        •  Indeed, for sure, here in CT (0+ / 0-)

          Try paying my real estate tax bill.  I bought my retirement home in 1999 for $216K, including furniture.  My taxes were about 3K.  This year my taxes have risen to 8K as part of a 3 year phase up.  They will be 10K at the end of this, 2years from now.  Granted, I bought in an area that was gentrifying, but I sure didn't expect my taxes to go up 3.5x in 10 years.

          I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep my house.  Plus I have to refinance in 2 years, and I am really afraid about the results of that, given what's happened to mortgage rates recently.

          Most of the tax money is going for updating our schools, which I support.  Some help from the federal government for school building would be much appreciated.

          •  For Sure (0+ / 0-)

            A few billion of that money spent in Iraq could have sure helped local school districts and helped keep property taxes lower.

            It's an argument I always bring up to the "no taxes" crowd when they talk about Bush era tax cuts.   The reality is that the loss of funding for local programs like education has led to higher property taxes.

            Judging by my property tax bill, I would say that the taxes "saved" on Federal taxes, where more than made up for in property taxes.

      •  That's Why We Need To Act Now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We finally have a majority in Congress, and Bush might not think education funding is a good place to fight us.

        Thompson, Giuliani, Romney, and McCain support the Son Of A Bush War

        by Reino on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:21:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm glad to see (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Reino, elie

        so many others here picking up on IDEA concerns!


        by jennybravo on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:54:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Some NYS laws are better than fed laws on IDEA (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reino, TeresaInPa, elie

      But we still have a battle on our hands because of the lack of federal funding for students with disabilities. The middle class and those on fixed incomes can not afford the property taxes in their districts. One of The leading causes of the crushing schooltax burden on people in our communities is unfunded federal mandates, and that includes NCLB.

      I have signed your petition and will gladly make phone calls if and when it becomes necessary.

      Infidels in all ages have battled for the rights of man, and have at all times been the advocates of truth and justice... Robert Ingersol

      by BMarshall on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:11:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Senator Harkin (10+ / 0-)

    I was proud to sign your petition!

    We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

    by Mary Julia on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:31:14 AM PDT

  •  Signed and forwarded to family/friends (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention, Senator!

  •  Thank You Senator (8+ / 0-)

    I have a child who is on the autistic spectrum and have been appalled at the watering down of both the ADA and IDEA (please take up IDEA next to ensure that these children get an adequate education.)

    But be aware, the last time I dealt with an OCR office (in Boston), I was told that the Bush administration effectively put a gag order on them.  Having laws and rights is useless if the agency in charge of enforcing them is hamstrung.

  •  Gladly signed (9+ / 0-)

    As someone who has the unfortunate luck to suffer from Narcolepsy, I would not have been able to hold a job if it wasn't for the ADA.

    Please keep us updated.

    When the government fears the people, that is liberty. When the people fear the government, that is tyranny. - Jefferson

    by CTLiberal on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:38:16 AM PDT

  •  Thank you Sen. Harkin (5+ / 0-)

    Will sign the petition and check to see what else I can do. This is very worthwhile and a shame what has happened. As a teacher who has seen even at a very young age, the discrimination against people with disabilities, I thank you for taking a stand and bringing this to our attention ...

    Speak your truth quietly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story - Max Ehrmann

    by Catrina on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:39:18 AM PDT

  •  Thank you, Senator (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks you, Senator Harkin.  I have signed the peition and forwarded the information to my family members.

    What with the war, the deficit, health care, and GOP corruption, it's easy to forget about these essential quality of life issues that help make the tapestry that is American life stronger.

    Thanks for the information, and your efforts on behalf of all Americans, especially those with disabilities.


    How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. (Abraham Lincoln)

    by Ninepatch on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:39:56 AM PDT

  •  Do you know what now Justice Roberts did? (14+ / 0-)

    When he was a lawyer for Toyota, he successfully argued that a worker who could brush her teeth wasn't disabled enough for the ADA protections:

    Roberts said, "It's clear Mrs. Williams can brush her teeth, can cook and do laundry, and just because she can't do assembly line work doesn't mean she is disabled."

    To Roberts, Justice Stephen G. Breyer asked if an acceptable solution would be to allow a jury to find whether a person has a substantial disability.

    Representing Williams, attorney Robert L. Rosenbaum countered that the disability law was targeted at keeping people like Williams in the workforce. If the law were only to apply to people too disabled to work, it would make no sense.

    More at:

    Full disclosure: I am permanently partially disabled from a neuro-muscular-skeletal workplace injury like the one Roberts argued not to be covered by ADA. I can brush my teeth but am limited to 2 hours cumulative activity per day. The Supreme Court and Justice Roberts did a very bad thing about ADA and injured workers.

    Fortunately, my current employer still honors 'Reasonable Accommodation' that ADA gave us and I am able to work part-time, at my own pace, with a little help. But, as a professional with unique experience to offer, I'm in a better position than an assembly line worker.

    I absolutely deplore the corporate effort to gut the ADA.

    As one writer/professor (in a wheelchair from spinal cancer) said:  We are all only temporarily abled!

  •  what about internet captioning? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, oibme, Unduna, pgm 01, Ninepatch

    and equal communication access for the deaf? I refer you to's blog post on this very issue:

    What's madness but nobility of the soul at odds with circumstance?

    by slinkerwink on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:42:14 AM PDT

    •  I sure do agree with you. (0+ / 0-)

      There is one person who diaries here and he did caption one video as a sample and it was great.  I think he may be trying to rustle up a business.  I hope so and wish him success, if he is.

      The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all - JFK- 5/18/63-Vanderbilt Univ.

      by oibme on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:40:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for working on the ADA, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Unduna, elie, Ninepatch

    and restoring habeas corpus.  

    Can you also work to repeal the AEDPA which emasculated habeas corpus rights at the time they are most needed?

    Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.

    by zdefender on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:44:35 AM PDT

  •  Strengthen provisions re: brain disabilities (8+ / 0-)

    Mental illness, Seasonal affective disorder, Autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD, Tourettes syndrome, epilepsy and others.

    At present there some disabilities "are more equal" than others.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:46:55 AM PDT

  •  Signed. Now seal and deliver, Senator! (4+ / 0-)

    On behalf of my dear husband and all our other disabled friends, thanks for working for us, Senator Harkin. And maybe some day -- when the importance of the inclusions offered by the ADA sink into the American consciousness -- we will no longer need wonder why someone would provide a curb cut at one corner but not on the opposite corner. Well, all things in time ....

    "It does not require many words to speak the truth." -- Chief Joseph, native American leader (1840-1904)

    by highfive on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:52:17 AM PDT

  •  As someone who lives on disability now (10+ / 0-)

    I am more than happy to sign this petition.  It took me 5 years to actually get on disability, despite a 3 foot pile of documentation from a host of medical specialists.  Then I had to fight for that extra $200, which moves the allotment from $423 to $623.  You know, because I now live with my sister instead of in my car.  I love the way this country works sometimes.

    There are alot of people who aren't as lucky as I was.  It's hard to keep fighting when you have not resources and no one to guide you through the maze of crap it takes to get assistance of any kind.  Had I not had a great attorney who helped me at every step of the way, I might be living in a cardboard box by now.

    Thanks, Senator Harkin, your petition has been signed.  Please keep fighting for the disabled.  We need someone in our corner.....

    Liberty and Justice for All

    by Got a Grip on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:53:34 AM PDT

  •  Thank you (7+ / 0-)

    The courts have severly violated the original legislative and executive intent of the ADA by allowing employers to say a person with severe illness that is partially controlled by medication is “too disabled” to do the job but not “disabled enough” to be protected by the law.

    Please ensure that the recent courts’ misuse of the definition of “disability,” is reversed to restore the original intent of the ADA, and make it more consistent with other civil rights laws.

  •  Thanks for your visit to DK (6+ / 0-)

    highlighting this important issue.  I'm proud to sign your petition.

  •  Signed. Thank you. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcfly, Unduna, drational, Ninepatch

    No more confirmation of extremist right-wing judges.  None.  We can't afford any more entrenched, institutional assaults on the inalienable rights of the weakest members of our nation.

  •  Signed! And Senator Edwards is with you! (7+ / 0-)

    Signed and thank you so much for posting this here.

    Sen. Edwards seems to wholeheartedly agree:

    "As we prepare to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, we must reclaim the ADA. Hostile, conservative judges have put new barriers in front of Americans with disabilities who seeking nothing more than the right to work and live with dignity," said Edwards. "Congress should pass the ADA Restoration Act to ensure that the law remains consistent with Congress' original intent and restore civil rights protections to people with epilepsy, depression, diabetes, cancer and other conditions."

    Lets keep Virginia Blue in 2008 - - get involved!

    by okamichan13 on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:04:25 PM PDT

  •  adsf (8+ / 0-)

    I'm so glad to see someone focusing in on an issue that is clearly, clearly not implemented at all.

    One of the biggest things that really bothers me is while we hear of this great "worker shortage" and "pathway to citizenship", here is an entire segment of our society, that probably has a lot to offer being completely marginalized and the silence is deafening.

    We have massive age discrimination in this country, so much so we see blatant job ads and interviews not even getting a nod from either the EEOC or the DOL.

    We have more people entering poverty and we're not supporting all of American citizens in making sure they have access to the American dream and are able to utilize their potential.

    As an example, I was witness to a startup spending a ridiculous amount of time and attorney fees figuring out how they did not have to put an elevator into the new office building and the CEO blatantly said...
    so he can avoid hiring anyone disabled!

    He probably spent more money in trying to avoid building an elevator that the actual damn thing would have cost him.

    and it's insane because of course heavily computer equipment had to be carried up the stairs instead.

    Could I do anything about this?  Hell no, I was in an "at will" employment state and it was quite clear any "noise" from the peanut gallery would result in an immediate canning.

    This is our work world and please let's start supporting ALL U.S. citizens in their working opportunities.

    by BobOak on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:07:31 PM PDT

  •  VA Mental Health Care (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Unduna, Ninepatch

    I have been curious as to why no ADA suit against the VA or military has been filed with regard to their lack of treatment of mental health disorders, such as PTSD. Does anyone know anything about this?

  •  Added tag: "health care". (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Unduna, Fruitcake, Ninepatch

    I think that people looking for health care diaries often will find ADA diaries of interest.  Anyone who diagrees may remove the tag, of course.

    The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

    by DSPS owl on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:12:11 PM PDT

  •  I am going to sign and send (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    political girl, Unduna

    this out to everyone on my email list.

  •  Thank you so much. (0+ / 0-)

    Very important. Fighting for the rights of those with disabilities is getting harder for those of us in the trenches because the law is being so seriously undermined.

    Please keep IDEIA in mind as you go forward with your fight. Lack of funding creates terrible tension in the schools between following the law and allocating resources, and it is the children that suffer.

    Again, I've signed and Thank You!!

    "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

    by Unduna on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:15:15 PM PDT

  •  My thanks as well Senator (0+ / 0-)

    for putting a much needed spotlight on this important legislation.  I have signed and sent the link around to a variety of friends and family.

    ...honor is a harder master than the law. It cannot compromise for less than 100 cents on the dollar and its debts never outlaw. - Mark Twain, a Biography

    by billd on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:26:22 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, Senator! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, mcfly, political girl, oibme, elie

    I've been wheelchair bound with MS for six years. It's a wretched disease at times, and I have been grateful for the protections of the ADA.

    It's shameful that the ADA has been gutted, leaving  out so many who need the protections I've enjoyed.

    I am signing your petition and passing it on to my friends and family.

  •  After my husband was hit by a car (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we learned a lot about ADA and access issues.  As a friend remarked told my husband at the time "It's not so much that you're disabled, it's that we're all temporarily-abled."  Thankfully, he's able to walk again now, but we really appreciated what a difference ADA made in our lives.

    Thank you, and I'm happy to help you with the fight.

    Just call their form of government Hypocracy.

    by lineatus on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:44:07 PM PDT

  •  Done (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, mcfly, elie

    and thank you for bringing this here. I worked for several years at the state and local level to help children with disabilities obtain a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under the ADA and the IDEA.  I would also like to point out that along with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act also provide protection from discrimination for school children with disabilities. So the ADA helps children as well as adults. These laws have also been under attack by the courts and many school districts.

    In a study of court decisions on employment related ADA lawsuits, the bias against those with disabilites is shown quite plainly.

    Enacted in 1990, the ADA was designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities in employment, public entities and
    public accommodations. This study focused on the employment title of the ADA and involved 730 relevant cases in the appeals courts between 1992 and 2000 that were available electronically through Westlaw.

    The results showing plaintiffs winning fewer than 17 percent of their cases on appeal includes those in which the plaintiffs won in the original trial court, Colker noted...
    ..."Despite the bias toward affirmances on appeal, plaintiffs are losing their ADA cases on appeal at an astonishing rate," she said. "The high rate of reversal of pro-plaintiff trial court judgments suggests a hostility to ADA plaintiffs by the courts of appeals rather than poor litigation judgment by plaintiffs."

    The best predictor, however, appeared to be in which circuit court the lawsuit was heard. The Fourth Circuit Court - which includes Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia - was the most hostile to those filing suit under the ADA. Plaintiffs have only a 2.8 percent chance of prevailing in a typical ADA case before the Fourth Circuit, the study revealed



    by jennybravo on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:47:21 PM PDT

  •  As a residential designer... (0+ / 0-)

    I am always faced between following the ADA requirements in housing or what the owner wants.  Owners don't want ADA and find ways around it.  I signed this because I have relatives that are disabled and cannot find decent housing that is ADA compliant.

    It was a time of desperate need for heroes - any kind of heroes. "Twice Upon a Time"

    by doingbusinessas on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:49:31 PM PDT

  •  While you're at it how about pushing the states (0+ / 0-)

    to implement the Olmstead decision and get people out of institutions and into their own homes with all the assistance they need. $ follows the person is the way it should be. It is so much cheaper to allow a person with disabilities to live at home than the put them in a publicly funded institution.

  •  IDEA (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, PaintyKat, mcfly, AnnieJo

    Senator Harkin,

    Thank you for defending these very important and hard won rights.  I was wondering if this Restoration Act  will contain any provision for more fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).

    Every year, special education teachers must do more with less.  The lack of follow through with federal funding often puts teachers at odds with administrators at odds with parents.  In these situations, the best interests of the child are often overlooked.

    Please do what you can to fully fund Special Education in America.

    Thanks again for your time and effort.


  •  IMPEACH!! (0+ / 0-)

    the worse president of all time.

    " no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head."

    by adamsrw on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:59:42 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, elie

    for this important legislation to make life as equitable as possible for those struggling with a disability, including our amazing Vets! Bless You!

    [and a wave to Amy ---huge fan of Starting Over ova here!]

  •  As a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, mcfly, elie

    grandparent of an Autistic child, I appreciate any help you can provide to those who are in the most need.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01:09:01 PM PDT

  •  Will link this post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to other disease communities with which I'm involved.

    And, once again, compassionate conservatism is proving to be an oxymoron.

    "Ultimately, we are defined by what we create, not by what others destroy."-- James McKinley

    by Fruitcake on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01:24:21 PM PDT

  •  etiquette (0+ / 0-)

    When are Senators gonna learn to offer a tip jar?  j/k

    We're all just monkeys burning in hell.

    by smokeymonkey on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01:26:21 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, Senator (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The ADA is the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the past 30 years.

    We cannot allow the rights of disabled persons be eroded slowly by the courts.  We have seen what this can lead to with other protections, such as the woman's right to choose, and if we don't restore the freedoms for this narrow class of people in society we are sure to see other groups of people targeted in a multi-faceted assault on human rights.

    "It's time we steer by the stars, and not the lights of every passing ship"

    by andyj2287 on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01:28:31 PM PDT

    •  Well, I'd pair it with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      IDEA as one of the most important pieces -- but without enforcement neither is worth squat.

      Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? - Ian Frazier, Lamentations of the Father

      by Frankenoid on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:11:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you so much Senator Harkin (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, mcfly, anotherdemocrat

    The ADA literally changed my late sister's life when it was passed.  It gave my folks ammo to change her schooling in a community that didn't want change.  And because of the ADA she led a very full life.

    I signed your petition and have forwarded it.

  •  Proud to sign your petition and recommend (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    your diary so that more folks can see it.  I am as proud to sign this petition as I was to sign the petitions for the ADA those many years ago.  Rep. Dan Glickman and Sen. Bob Dole worked with us in gaining voter support for its passage.  

    It was a proud day when folks from the local disability community attended the signing in the Rose Garden at the White House in DC by the former President Bush.  Sad irony that the ADA is being gutted by the son and his administration.

    Most of the expense to employers was phased in over a number of years so it is sad that we let these fools destroy one of the last proud bipartisan pieces of legislation which improved the lives of those with disabilities.

    I think of it when I attend a restaurant, a movie, a play, ride a bus, fly, or go to the library.  And some of the modifications were so simple.

    The late Justin Dart, whose dedicated work toward passing of the original legislation didn't live to see his hard work gutted, nor did some of the local advocates but it seems incumbant in those of us who have survived to protect this legislation and restore it to its former force and give back the promises so important to those who need this protection.

    So glad to have you here, Senator Harkin.


    WWYTR? Voting, contributing, supporting, and electing Democrats

    by PaintyKat on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 01:59:45 PM PDT

  •  If you don't start impeachments this won't matter (0+ / 0-)

    Why are the courts attacking the law?

    Because the courts were stacked with partisan ideologues who should never have been allowed to become judges.

    Impeachment of the criminals who stole the 2000 election would be a start.

    Meanwhile, even if you pass your new law, you know your new law will be vetoed by Bush/Cheney -- or if not, they'll issue a "signing statement" declaring their right to ignore it.  Or perhaps they'll just plain ignore it -- they've done that too!

    And most likely the ideologues masquerading as judges will come up with some contorted excuse to rip the ADA protections away again.  Their excuses were absurd and transparent last time -- they will not hesitate to use even more ridiculous excuses to sabotage your law this time.

    In other words, there's no point to passing good legislation like this unless you get working on the massive corruption in the executive and judiciary branches.  Which means: IMPEACHMENTS.

    -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

    by neroden on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:01:28 PM PDT

  •  Thank you Senator Harkin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    With all the oxygen being drained by our misguided and tragic venture in Iraq, it's so important that we keep focus on important issues at home.

    I was fortunate enough to be at the White House at outdoor event marking the ADA signing. Talk about your nonpartisan celebration! We can't let the promise of the ADA come under attack.

    No telling what new harm Bush might do if he ever gets back up off the mat. You have to keep your knee on his windpipe until the danger is past. -G. Trudeau

    by LarisaW on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:04:24 PM PDT

  •  There is a commuter railroad in New York (0+ / 0-)

    The Long Island Railroad serves 600,000 commuters a day, shuttling them between Manhattan and Long Island, some stations 100 miles away from midtown.  600,000 passengers a day is not chump change.

    They have had a waiver forever from equipping their elevated stations from supplying handicap access.  How many people is that depriving of employment opportunities in the largest city in the country?  No elevators.  Not even any ramps.

    But - get this - all trains are equipped with WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE RESTROOMS.

    Why is this allowed to continue?

    •  Correction (0+ / 0-)

      I looked up the number of passengers they service each day and it's more like 100,000.  It's still a lot of people.

      The railroad is owned by the Metropolitan Transit Agency, a public organization.  I guess that's why they have a waiver.  Makes zero sense, but that's the excuse.

  •  Impeach and convict Gonzales, Cheney, and Bush (0+ / 0-)

    Senator Harkin,

    The republic and constitution is at risk from executive tyranny and despotism. Please act. You and the Democratic Senate leadership must work out a deal with at least seventeen to twenty Republican Senators to arrange the removal of these criminals. It is necessary to the proper functioning of our republic that those who try to steal and usurp unauthorized power into a single hand have violated their oaths of office and are NOT FIT for duty.

    Arrange a Republican Acting Presidency from among the many responsible and honorable Republicans with whom you conduct your business in the Senate. Here is one way to do this:

    Democrats, concerned citizens, and your constituents are watching. You have an oath to uphold. Save our constitution!

    Enjoy reading The Proxies, a free crime thriller in short story form.

    by maynard on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:16:56 PM PDT

  •  As someone who benefited from the ADA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and still does, I cannot praise you enough.  With the current madadministration and the courts being filled with their counterparts, I am not surprised they are trying to strip the ADA.  The irony for me is that bush 41 signed the bill into law.   43 will undo the only good thing his father did while serving as an elected president.

    The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all - JFK- 5/18/63-Vanderbilt Univ.

    by oibme on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 02:33:27 PM PDT

  •  True story of what happened to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I worked all my life despite PTSD and epilepsy.  I moved to Utah a few years back.  Utah treats the disabled horribly.

    I had a supervisor who liked to abuse people, which set off my PTSD.  Reinjury and exacerbation can be a significant problem for those with PTSD when placed in situations similar to what caused it.

    Under the ADA I had the right to request a transfer, which I did.  My employer, despite being a very large company, declined to follow the ADA (probably knowing that in Utah, they would never be held accountable - which they haven't).  I tried to find another job, but couldn't.  I was stuck.  I contacted the EEOC, and they declined to pursue the issue.

    I ended up very, very sick, in and out of the hospital, and my PTSD became so much worse that now I can't work at all.  All because my employer didn't want to follow the ADA.

    I have to live with an illness that is much more limiting than it was before.

    Now I'm on SSDI, and everyone around here I talk to has a hissy fit because I'm not working.

    I feel like banging my head against the wall.

    The ADA doesn't just protect the rights of the disabled, it also prevents employers from injuring them.  Too bad Utah doesn't believe in the ADA...

  •  Thank you Sen. Harkin! (0+ / 0-)

    I am an American with disabilities and I rely on the ADA to stay employed. I've got a rather unique problem - I get migraines instantly from computer screens, TVs, fluorescent lights, etc - which makes it hard to work pretty much ANYWHERE. I'm a good employee when I can be accommodated (like being allowed to wear sunglasses to meetings, or not being asked to watch something on a TV or work somewhere with a TV) - the ADA is a real savior.

  •  I'm about to lose my job, Sir. (0+ / 0-)

    For just this reason.  My employer wants ALL my medical records.  (Which is a violation of the ADA)  Whether they pertain to my disabilities or not.  I have had 4 short term disability leaves for a mental illness.  I have had ECT and am now using a new procedure called a Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy, that is still not working. It may, it may not.  It's only for individuals who suffer from severe, treatment resistent depression. I hope it will.  However, I have only 7 hours left of Short term disability time left.  

    I have asked for reasonable accommodations to my schedule and my employer has refused them because they feel that I am not disabled because I have not given "enough" medical records for them to make this determination, even though they have a 10 year history of a knowledge of hospitalizations and FMLA and Short Term Disability forms, spelling all my medical information out for them.  I have had 4 doctors write testimony that I am, in fact, a person with an ADA covered disability.  It's a vicious cycle.  Instead of allowing a reasonable accommodation for my schedule, they are letting me run out my short term disability, at which time, I will be terminated.

    I applaud your actions on this.  It's about time.

    The SCOTUS has made rulings so ridiculous.  Some so sad that those who are on oxygen 24/7 in order to survive are no longer considered disabled because, since they can now breathe with the aid of oxygen, they are no longer considered disabled! How could this have happened?

    A man with epilepsy finally got his seizures under control with medication.  This should be great news.  However, he had a major seizure at work, which can happen from time to time, in spite of success with medication.  Since he does not have frequent seizures, that does not constitute a disability according to SCOTUS, as it no longer substantially limits major life activities, as it's only an intermittent disability.  His employer was legally allowed to fire him!!


    Everyone, please write your congressperson.  Ask them to cosponsor this legislation.  It is the single most important ADA legislation in a very long time!

    A burro is an ass. A burrow is a hole in the ground. Now can you tell the difference?

    by second gen on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 10:52:09 AM PDT

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