Civil Rights Legislative Agenda for the 112th Congress (2011-2012)

 Individuals with disabilities, individually and collectively, offer an important and needed voice within the voting public.  Ensuring voting independence, accuracy, and access continue to be key issues for this constituency. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 required fully accessible voting machines for people with disabilities by January 1, 2006.  This promise has not been fulfilled.  According to a September 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, too many polling places and voting technology throughout the country remain inaccessible.  Additionally, state laws requiring voter identification and/or voting machines with “paper trails” have created inconsistency in voting technology and confusion among voters with disabilities.

Voting Rights Reform

 The 112th Congress should:

  • Conduct oversight (e.g., hearings, reports) to document the progress achieved in implementing the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 addressing the right of people with disabilities to vote privately and independently in any federal election, to rectify continuing failures to meet the provisions of the law, and to make recommendations for improvement;

  • Ensure that any new voting reform legislation provides equal and full access to voting systems and polling places for voters with disabilities.

Other Civil Rights

The 112th Congress should:

  • Protect and promote stronger enforcement of existing civil rights laws for people with disabilities, particularly the Americans with Disabilities Act; Individuals with Disabilities Edu­cation Act (IDEA); Fair Housing Act; Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA); Sections 503, 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); National Voter Registration Act (“motor voter”); Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; and Air Carrier Access Act;

  • Increase funding for federal government entities that enforce disability rights laws, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC), the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and civil rights offices in the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Education, Homeland Security, and Transportation;

  • Preserve and enhance all federal protection and advocacy programs for people with disabilities;

  • Preserve and enhance legislation and social programs that protect the rights of children and youth with disabilities, particularly those who are served by foster care systems;

  • Enact protections, including sanctions, against abuse, neglect, and inappropriate use of physical, mechanical, and chemical restraints and seclusion in all settings;

  • Ensure that legislation dealing with issues such as physician-assisted suicide, stem cell research, end of life care, and research  on human subjects includes protections against abuse and discrimination on the basis of disability;

  • Take action to ensure that the United States is an active leader in promoting the human and civil rights of children and adults with disabilities in all parts of the world, specifically by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and

  • Create and fund a research and training effort focusing on international cooperation on disability.

Legislative Agenda Partners

We are national organizations that serve and advocate for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. We work together to shape, expand, and protect a strong federal role that provides vital benefits, services and supports and assures civil rights for our constituency.