Department of Justice Proposes Vast Changes in ADA

Recently, the DOJ proposed some rather alarming revisions to Titles II and III of the Americans With Disabilities Act. These changes include:

  • A new definition for service animals;
  • A significant weakening of the readily achievable barrier removal requirement for public accommodations;
  • A significant reduction of elements required to be accessible in state and local government facilities;
  • An exemption for all existing facilities from the new recreation and playground rules;
  • And many others!

IAADP as an organization has already made an official comment regarding the new service animal definition, emphasizing that the following changes be made:

  1. Eliminate the phrase “providing minimal protection” from the definition of service animal;
  2. Eliminate the phrase “do work” from the definition because it is redundant and the example of work given in the NPRM, grounding, undermines the Department’s goal of maintaining a clear distinction between specially trained service animals and those animals whose mere presence can provide emotional support, companionship or therapeutic benefits.
  3. Limit the use of other species only to animals which can be trained to meet the same standards for behavior and training that assistance dogs must meet to qualify for public access.
  4. Avoid placing a size or weight limit on common domestic animals such as assistance dogs.

Further information from IAADP can be found here.

These changes in the ADA, especially the service animal definition, heavily impact the disabled community and I urge everyone to please take the time to add your comments to IAADP’s official comments and/or add to the draft comments from Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF).

Please understand that even though these organizations (and others like them) have made comments that is imperative that DOJ receive your individual comments. We want to flood them with comments and we need the individual’s voice just as much as any large, faceless organization.

Comments

  1. See, I got the same email from the IAADP and what I don’t understand is number 4. I’ve read the entirety of the proposed changes, and there is absolutely nothing that would indicate the DOJ is looking to put a size or weight restriction on common domestic animals. It seems to me that making one of your major points of contention an issue that isn’t even present weakens the force of the comment as a whole. I feel it would be much better to focus on the issues that actually exist, instead of one that clearly does not, nor has any real indication of existing in the future.

    While I generally am in full agreement with the IAADP (and hence a member), this totally blew me a way. Did they not read the NPRM?

    Not attacking you of course, just needing to vent about that. Did you find any reason to believe the NPRM suggested there was going to be an attempt to put a size or weight restriction on service dogs?

  2. I should have added that I know the size/weight restriction question is in the DOJ’s list of questions, but in their proposed changes, the issue is conspicuously missing. This seems to me to be one of those things that one person mentioned, so it was added as a question with no intent of making actual changes. After all, there are many important changes that are actually proposed, such as the inclusion of service dog guidance in Title II. Why not focus on these issues that are actually present?

  3. Yeah, I’m not fully clear on the weight thing myself. I did email a few people over the weekend about it (and was sitting on this post because of just that), but as I’ve heard nothing I finally gave up and just posted it anyway. But I totally agree with you; it seems rather superfluous to bring it into the comments.

  4. I’ve thought of emailing the IAADP about it, but I’m in the middle of a move right now and don’t know how clearly I’d be able to put my thoughts together. I was also a bit surprised the IAADP didn’t comment at the public hearing on the 15th…I went up there to give my comments (good excuse for seeing friends) and they were noticeably absent, even though individuals and groups could testify by phone as well.

    I’ve spent some time reading through all the comments on the comment submission site…some of them are quite interesting; a good sample of detailed, clear and persuasive comments mixed in with one liners that leave you scratching your head!

  5. That is quite surprising . . . and a bit disconcerting, too.

    I’m rather appalled by some of the, err, thoughtless comments that are spattered amongst the various others. It truly boggles my mind how some of those people manage to retain enough intelligence to keep their service animal healthy enough to function in its job.

  6. The sad thing is, I’m sure some of them don’t actually keep their dog up well enough to do its job to its full potential. I’m constantly appalled by the mishandling of service animals I see on a pretty regular basis. Perhaps instead of pushing for service animal certification, the organizations that are so dead set on certification should certify handlers!

    Have you seen the Jingles the monkey comments? I seriously cannot believe one person would have that many friends and family to give comments…come to think of it, I think I saw comments under two different names each claiming to be the woman’s mother.

    Would you rather switch this to email? I’m sure we could talk for quite a while about this.

  7. Sad, yet true. There are several handlers that I think should have their partners ripped from them.

    Yes, I saw the Jingles comments. Sickening.

    If you’d like, I don’t mind one way or the other. ;)

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