Your House Office Building Isn’t Even Compliant with ADA, Disabled Woman Tells Lawmakers

June 28, 2012 - 6:34 PM

International symbol of accessibility

The ADA-compliant international symbol of accessibility

(CNSNews.com) – A disabled woman who testified on Capitol Hill in favor of a bill that would give relief to businesses facing lawsuits for violating disability regulations said Wednesday that even the Rayburn House Office building does not comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

Lee Ky, who is in a wheelchair, testified before the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution in favor of the ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services (ACCESS) Act.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) would require a person bringing a lawsuit against a business to give notice and cite the specific code violation of the ADA accessibility guidelines.  The bill would allow for a 60-day notification period and then give businesses 120 days to comply before the lawsuit could move forward.

Ky’s mother operates two donut shops and has twice been sued for alleged violations.

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) asked her whether Lungren’s bill treats the disabled fairly: “Do you believe that it is fair to the disabled to require notice and an opportunity to fix a violation before a lawsuit can be filed?”

“Yes, I do,” Ky replied, adding that many business facilities were not yet “updated.”

“For example, in this building, if I go around, this building is not compliant with ADA,” she added. “And the law is written by you guys. So how can you expect the general population to be aware of what is being written if it’s not being publicized?”

She contrasted blatant contraventions of regulations such as exceeding the speed limit with what she suggested were unintentional ADA violations.

“Okay, for example, I’m using a speed limit, it’s posted every, what, every half a mile? Say 45, speed limit 45, if you go over it you get a ticket.  Okay, you choose to go over it,” she said.

“We didn’t choose not to comply. So, minor violations, 30 days, it’s perfect,” she said.  “If I need Braille stickers 60 inches above from the ground I will go to the store and get it.  But if the concrete needs to be removed and redo it because it’s 3.8 percent, because it’s not 2.8 percent, we have to find constructor, we have to find people that know how to do concrete, and that give me 120 days to do that.”

“It’s only fair,” Ky added.  “It’s for the community and for everybody.  You cannot just give me a suit packet and say, you’re sued. What did we do?  Well, ‘okay you’re not complying.’ Well, I didn’t know. The law changed every five years, every three years, was it announced?  Was it publicized?  Is it three strikes you’re out?  No.”

“So, we need some notice, whether from the lawyer, from the plaintiff, from somebody,” she said.

Rep. Franks then asked Ky, “Did I – I’m just curious – did I hear you say that this building, or where you’re sitting now, is not ADA-compliant as we have written it?”

“Maybe I misunderstood,” he added. “Did you say that the building that we’re in now, or the table that you’re at, is not ADA-complaint as you understand it?”

“Yeah, your table here, I don’t see a disabled symbol,” Ky said.  “Because on the list that we were cited for, I believe in the ADA regs or policy is that a business owner needs to put a universal world symbol [the international symbol of accessibility] on their table to signify, saying ‘oh, this section is for you.  And you only sit in here.’”

“So as you can see, I’m looking around, I don’t see that in here,” she said.  “This is a public place, but why is it not in your building?”

“Thank you. I hope somebody gives us notice on that,” Franks joked.

“Yeah that would be great,” Ky said.  “Can I go around and look how accessible you are?”

Rep. Lungren’s bill seeks to address the thousands of lawsuits which he says result from the technical requirements of the ADA’s Accessibility Guidelines for entering public buildings.

During her written testimony, Ky said, “If these frivolous, nit-picky, unnecessary money hungry ADA lawsuits continue, many businesses will be forced to shut down because they don’t have the money to pay for the lawsuit or correct the facility.”

“To me it’s reminiscent of mobsters requesting protection money.”

“Throughout my life people in general are very helpful; whenever I am out and about by myself, people offer their kindness to assist me whether I accept or decline is up to me,” she said.

“I also have a voice and if I need assistance I can ask for help,” Ky added.  “I don’t want business owners to cringe when they see me entering their establishment, whether to purchase or to simply use the restroom.  I would like to see the ADA regulations or federal laws be fair and not be taken advantage of or abused.”