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Disability Rights

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What We Are Trying to Accomplish

The National MS Society is currently advancing the following disability rights legislation:
  1. Protect the rights of people with disabilities as guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  2. Make air travel more accessible for people with disabilities. 
  3. Pass the Real Emergency Access for Aging & Disability Inclusion Act (REAADI) and the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (DRMA). 

Why It’s Important

Enacted more than twenty-five years ago, the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability and ensures certain rights and access when it comes to employment, government agencies and facilities, public transportation, public accommodations and telecommunications. Enforcement of the ADA is vital to ensuring that people with disabilities are independent and can fully participate in society.

Congress passed the Air Carrier Access Act in 1986 to guarantee people with disabilities receive consistent and non-discriminatory treatment during air travel. While progress has been made, people with disabilities still face many challenges when traveling by air including damaged mobility equipment, difficult boarding and de-planing and inaccessible lavatories. 

In addition, the National MS Society is committed to supporting legislation that protects people living with disabilities before, during and after an emergency. 

Happening at the National Level

  1. Accessible Air Travel: 
    • The Society supported the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act which would take important steps to make air travel more accessible for people with disabilities including: developing standards for airplanes to be more accessible; improved training for air carrier personnel and contractors to better assist people with disabilities; strengthened enforcement mechanisms including the ability for individuals to file a civil suit; and creating a U.S. Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on the Air Travel Needs of Passengers with Disabilities.
    • Regulations are pending related to required reporting by airlines of lost or damaged wheelchairs and scooters, as well as requiring accessible lavatories on single aisle airplanes.
  2. Real Emergency Access for  Aging & Disability Inclusion Act (REAADI) (S. 2658/H.R. 4938): REAADI creates a network of centers focused on research, training and technical assistance to assist states and localities to better involve and support people with disabilities and older adults during times of disasters. It establishes a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters to study the needs of individuals with disabilities, older adults and others with access and functional needs. It requires a review of the spending of disaster funds to ensure people with disabilities and older adults have access to services, and that buildings and structures reconstructed following disasters are accessible. The bill also requires the Department of Justice to examine how civil rights of people with disabilities and older adults are considered during and after disasters.
    • The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Robert Casey with an identical bill introduced in the House on the same day by Congressman Jim Langevin.  
  3. The Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (S. 2646/ H.R. 4937): DRMA would ensure individuals and families who have been displaced to other states by natural disasters can continue to access their Medicaid-supported services, and was introduced in the Senate by Robert Casey, and in the House of Representatives by Congressman Jimmy Panetta. 
  4. ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620): This bill—which the Society and hundreds of disability organizations oppose—would create significant obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce their rights under the ADA and access public accommodations like grocery stores and doctors’ offices. While public accommodations have had many years to come into compliance with the ADA, H.R. 620 would put the burden back on individuals with disabilities to determine what violations have occurred, provide the business with notice of the violation and afford them time to correct the problem. On February 15, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 620 with a 225-192 vote. The bill is now before the Senate. More than 464 organizations sent this letter to the Senate – and successfully urged them to not bring the bill up for consideration.

Take Action Now

Ensure the right of people living with disabilities are protected.

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