July 26, 2019

On the Eve of ADA Anniversary, Duckworth Leads Colleagues in Re-Introducing Legislation to Strengthen the Landmark Civil Rights Law & Help More Small Businesses Become Accessible

Bill would make it easier for small businesses to comply with ADA


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced legislation today with the Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) to make it easier for small businesses to become accessible for people with disabilities and help those businesses comply with the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Duckworth’s Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act bolsters the existing Disabled Access Credit (DAC), which helps businesses pay for renovations by doubling the maximum tax credit and allowing more small businesses to receive it. The legislation also invests in 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-04) and Jim Langevin (D-RI-02) also introduced companion legislation in the House.

“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,” 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.”

“We are reintroducing the DACE Act because it is imperative that we improve access for Americans with disabilities,” said McEachin. “By expanding the tax credit that allows small business owners to proactively accommodate and include those with disabilities, the DACE Act renews our commitment to fairness and equal access. On the eve of the 29th anniversary of the ADA, I am humbled to reintroduce this bill with Congressman Langevin and Senator Duckworth to support both Americans with disabilities and our small business community.”

“The Americans with Disabilities Act is a groundbreaking civil rights law that has had profound impacts on me and millions of my fellow citizens,” said Langevin, co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus. “However, twenty-nine years after it was signed into law, we’re still fighting to break down barriers to access and inclusion.  The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act will help more small businesses comply with the ADA and ensure our communities are open to all. I’m proud to spearhead this effort with Congressman McEachin in the House, and I look forward to working with Senator Duckworth to get this bill signed into law.”

“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,” said Casey. “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.”

“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,” 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.”

“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,” 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,” said Brown. “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," said Klobuchar. "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 would:

  • Expand the Disabled Access Credit (DAC): Increase eligible expenses businesses can write off in order to make their facilities 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.
  • Increase Funding for the ADA Mediation Program: Make the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) ADA Mediation Program eligible to receive funding to train contracted mediators and increase 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.
  • Collect ADA Information Line Data: Require DOJ to provide a report to Congress on the specific types of calls the ADA Information Line receives in order to improve the ways individuals with disabilities and businesses learn about their rights and how facilities can become ADA-compliant.

Since she was first elected to Congress, Duckworth has been a fierce advocate for disability rights. She has led efforts to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) last Congress, gathering enough support from her colleagues to block a bill that would have gutted enforcement of the ADA and rewarded businesses that have failed to make their facilities accessible to people with disabilities. Last year, Duckworth passed legislation to require airlines to disclose the number of lost bags and broken wheelchairs to ensure travelers are treated with dignity.

Earlier this year, Duckworth led her colleagues in asking the Trump Administration for information regarding its failure to hire and retain employees with targeted disabilities. In response to Trump administration’s refusal to address racial discrimination in special education, Duckworth joined her colleagues in demanding answers from Secretary Devos for failing to comply with court order and address the issue. She also helped introduce legislation to make fitness facilities across the country more accessible for those with disabilities.

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 Epilepsy Foundation.