On the Eve of ADA Anniversary, Langevin Introduces Legislation to Help More Small Businesses Become Accessible

Jul 25, 2019 Issues: Disabilities, Small Business

U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, and Donald McEachin (D-VA) introduced legislation today 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). The 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. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) led the introduction of companion legislation in the Senate.

“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.”

“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.”

“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,” said Duckworth. “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.”

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 Langevin was elected as the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress, he has been a leading voice for the disability community and has fought to protect and strengthen the ADA. Earlier this year, Langevin co-led a letter to the Administration requesting information regarding its reported failure to hire and retain employees with targeted disabilities. He has also led efforts to improve protections for airline passengers with disabilities, establish a more inclusive process to address the needs of people with disabilities in disaster planning, and expand caregiver services for disabled veterans. Yesterday, the House passed Langevin’s bill to strengthen coordinated respite services for family members who care for loved ones with disabilities and other chronic health conditions.

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.