July 29, 2019

Hirono, Senate Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Help Small Businesses Become ADA Compliant

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced legislation that would provide business owners financial assistance to renovate their businesses to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and accessible for people with disabilities. The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act would also fund programs that mediate ADA-related disputes to avoid additional litigation and help individuals and businesses understand the ADA. U.S. Representatives Donald McEachin (D-Va.) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“When businesses and infrastructure are not ADA-compliant, everyday tasks can become challenging for people living with disabilities. The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act will provide funding to small businesses so they can make structural improvements in order to comply with ADA regulations and increase access for people with disabilities,” Senator Hirono said. “With this bill, our small businesses will be able to better accommodate and include people living with disabilities in our communities and ensure fair and equal access to all Americans.”

“I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this important legislation to strengthen the ADA and give Americans with disabilities increased opportunity to fully participate in our society,” Senator Duckworth said. “This bill will help more businesses across the country comply with a nearly 30-year-old law that protects the rights of people with disabilities. It is a common-sense alternative to misguided efforts that would roll back hard-earned protections for people with disabilities by rewarding businesses who refuse to comply with the ADA instead of encouraging them to become accessible.”

“Twenty-nine years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, our country is better because we guaranteed that 61 million people with disabilities have the legal rights and the means to fully participate in the community,” Senator Casey said. “The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act supports small businesses as they fulfill the promise of the ADA—to make spaces more accessible for people with disabilities. I urge all of my colleagues to embrace the spirit of the ADA and support this important legislation.”

“This bill would help small businesses take steps to improve physical access for people living with disabilities, so that their doors are truly open for everyone in their community,” Senator Blumenthal said. “Nearly 30 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted, we must continue fighting to make the promise of the American Dream real for all.”

“Nearly 30 years after the ADA, we still have work to do to ensure every community is upholding the rights and protections of that law,” Senator Brown said. “This bill will help make sure small businesses have the tools they need to serve all customers.”

“Increasing the accessibility of small businesses for people with disabilities fosters inclusion and broader community engagement,” Senator Klobuchar said. “This bill will allow small businesses to access the resources they need to help more people fully participate in our economy.”

The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act:

  • Expands the Disabled Access Credit (DAC) by doubling the maximum tax credit and allowing more small businesses to receive it. The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act would increase the number of eligible expenses businesses can write off while updating their facilities to become ADA-compliant to $20,500, double the maximum credit from $5,000 to $10,125, and expand the definition of small businesses to companies with gross receipts of $2.5 million or less from $1 million or less.
  • Increases Funding for the ADA Mediation Program by making the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) ADA Mediation Program eligible to receive government funding in order to train contracted mediators and personnel to help individuals with disabilities and businesses reach a resolution without increased litigation. The legislation would appropriate $1 million for the 2021 fiscal year to support these efforts.
  • Collects ADA Information Line Data by requiring the DOJ to provide to Congress a report on the specific types of calls the ADA Information Line receives in order to improve the ways individuals with disabilities and business owners learn about their rights and how businesses and facilities can become ADA-compliant.

The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act has been endorsed by American Association of People with Disability (AAPD), The Arc of the United States, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), Equip for Equality, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), American Network of Community Options & Resources (ANCOR), American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), Rhode Island Disability Law Center, Disability Rights North Carolina, Disability Rights California, and the Epilepsy Foundation.