bipartisan rant

I received this email today and I think that if enough people read it maybe it will start a fire under the right people and we can get something done!

Hello there fellow ACB leader types (smile),

So I’m just sharing a few thoughts with my ACB friends, because hey,
that’s what a group like this should be for, right? Anyhow, I’m just
so frustrated right now I could scream, frustrated frankly with both
the Obama administration and with the Republican controlled Congress.

It’s come to my attention that a number of the federal regulations
we’ve been waiting for and that we’ve been essentially begging for
from the administration have basically been put on ice. Remember that
little thing call section 508 and the process to refresh it that has
been going on since the Summer of 2006? Well now we’re being told
that it’s going to be July of 2016 until we have a final rule! And
mind you, this is only a projected date; we’ve been promised hard
deadlines in the past that they’ve routinely put off.

The even greater outrage in my book though is that the ADA
regulations we’ve been advocating really for the past decade but
certainly since 2008 having to do with online-only public
accommodations as well as medical and other technologies, such as
hotel check-in kiosks etc etc, well these regulations won’t even be
formally proposed until, wait for it, 2018! That’s right, 2018, well
into the next administration, whomever that may be.

Particularly regarding the ADA web regulations, I think this
announcement by the administration, through their semi-annual
regulatory agenda announcement that has just come out recently, is
absolutely a slap in the face of the blindness community. There have
been multiple letters going to the President and to the Attorney
General from blindness groups asking for immediate action on these
rules; there have been letters from the Congress asking for
movement…and yet no response from the administration, until now,
and the response is really the legal equivalent of an obscene gesture.

I cannot tell you how heartbreaking and frustrating it is to see this
kind of thing, after years and years of trying to bring some of these
things to fruition. And when these kinds of things happen in an
environment where we aren’t seeing a lot of champions in the Congress
either, well that’s really pretty discouraging.

I am so sick of people telling me how grateful we need to be to this
administration for all their tremendous commitment to people with
disabilities; at least with respect to blindness issues and
technology accessibility, in my opinion, they get a D minus. And the
only reason why they don’t get an F is because some of us essentially
forced the hand of the FCC to punch out a gazillion regulations to
implement the communications, description, user interface, and on and
on provisions of the CVAA, which the administration didn’t lift a
finger to help us enact and which was essentially out of the
administration’s hands because the FCC is an independent agency.

Especially with regard to the ADA regs, I think it’s absolutely
disgraceful how some of the zealots in the disability community who
have gone to work over there are bragging about all the work they’re
doing to cut the rug out from under so-called segregated settings and
special schools and workshops and nursing homes and on and on…as if
it takes any real courage or commitment to attack those entities. I
mean come on, how much real flack does the administration take for
challenging places like nursing homes and sheltered workshops,
entities that really don’t have any meaningful allies and any
meaningful political power. So our colleagues get to sound all self
righteous about the tremendous work they’re doing for people with
disabilities while going after the lowest hanging fruit there is. Why
don’t we see them holding the hotel, banking, retail, medical and
other consumer technology, etc etc industries more accountable for
our access? Simple, they do not have the courage and political will.

And while I’m on this rant, let me also say that I’m so sick of
hearing from some folks about how Republicans in Congress will come
around on our issues if we just talk to them the right way. If I have
to listen to yet one more Republican staffer spew nonsense
out-of-touch ideology to justify their deliberate indifference to the
education of blind kids as they fail to act on the Macy Act, I think
I’m going to explode. Ok we finally got a Republican member of the
House to join with a Democrat to get the bill introduced in the House
again, but this happened because the member himself has hearing loss
and we’ve partnered with deafness on the bill. Even with a couple
more Rs coming on as cosponsors in the House, the truth is that we’ve
done literally dozens and dozens of meetings with Rs in both the
House and the Senate, and you would be amazed, or maybe you wouldn’t
be, at the imperviousness of those folks.

Anyway, I just needed to get this off my chest. I’m tired of hearing
about how supportive the Obama administration is and how grateful we
should be, and I’m sick to my stomach over how we need to beg and
plead for the most basic things from Republicans in Congress who are
incapable of giving a damn. I have to say, if you’re a Democrat, I
hope you give the administration hell and that you don’t perpetuate
this myth that the administration is the best friend people with
disabilities have. Maybe for some people with disabilities, but not
us. And if you are a Republican, then you get on the phone right now
with your members of Congress, especially Republicans in the Senate,
and you tell them that you’re a Republican and that it’s time for
Republicans up there to do the right thing and show some leadership
for blind kids.

As you can tell, I need a vacation! (smile)! And so this
Thanksgiving’s coming at the right time. I’m thankful to have a
community like this to share things with. I’m thankful for the
incredible results we’ve been able to achieve over the course of time
with not a whole lot of friends helping us. I’m thankful for the rare
folks in both political parties who get the blindness issues. But
friends, we really, really, really, need to cultivate a lot more
champions for our stuff. I don’t have any bright ideas on a Monday
afternoon on how to do that other than building relationships one at
a time the old fashioned way. But maybe as a community we need to
start thinking about committing to a New Year’s resolution on
cultivating a few more champions in both parties who can help us hold
the parties much more accountable.

Thanks for listening,

Mark

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