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The Americans with Disabilities Act: 

By Aaron Bloom
10/28/2004

AB 772 (2001)

                The intention of the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was to limit “barriers to employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services, and telecommunications” (U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1990) based on the mental or physical disability of a person.  Title II of the Act goes further to address specific access to public entities (Government Buildings) of a disabled person. 

 Known nationally as a fairly progressive state, California in many ways has been a leader in the movement to comply with ADA regulation.  Expansive state legislation including; structural code regulation, education curriculum adjustment, and regulation enforcement law, have all improved our ADA record.  Impressed with our progress, Assembly Bill 772 (Pacheco, 2001) was headed to be another code on a laundry-list of legislation to better our state.  The following essay will address AB 772 fate in the California Legislature, history of the topic it represents, and the outcome of the policy issue. 

 Introduced to the Legislature in 2001, Assembly Member Robert Pacheco authored AB 772 to simply impose further disclosure of the State Legislature and “require that all meetings of the Senate and the Assembly, or of a committee of the Senate or Assembly, be open and public…”(AB 772, Pacheco, 2001).  Supported by the California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the bill would mandate the Legislature to provide closed-captioned and live-captioned broadcasts to all legislative meetings, thus complying with ADA regulation.  Sounding simple enough, the bill should sail through the legislature and receive the Governor’s signature, right?  Wrong, the bill never saw the light of day. 

 According to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) “by 2006, virtually all new broadcast programming will be captioned” benefiting some 28 million deaf Americans and an additional 28 million U.S. non-English speaking Americans (NAD, March 2000 Current Population Survey).  Given this clear demand for captioned programming, the fate of AB 772 grew increasingly troubling as research continued.  Does this bill represent the struggle for equal rights for people with disabilities, could this specific issue of closed-caption meetings symbolize a larger problem? 

 With over 5.5 million eligible voters with disabilities in California (American Association of People with Disabilities, US Census SIPP 1997) it’s a mystery why the Legislature would prevent this large constituency group from equal access to legislative information?  Unfortunately, the mystery will go unsolved.  With no committee hearings or floor votes, the Legislature killed AB 772 before public debate could be heard.  Frustrated with AB 772 research, I begin to question other obstacles the deaf community must face, if even a federal regulation in a government building could not be enforced. 

 Ideally, all people would have ability to gain access to all common good.  Understood by a majority to not realistically be the case for many, I would hope this specific issue of one access point could be reformed.  AB 772 should be in place today, and all people of California (deaf or not) should be able to read on their televisions what law makers are saying in committee or on the legislature floor.  In conclusion, I find it amazing that in the mere few hours spent researching and writing this essay, an issue of clear wrong can so easily be found.  Fortunately, in AB 772’s death, one person was affected enough to call Assembly Member Pacheco and inquire the re-introduction of the Bill (I’m still waiting for a response…).     

 References

 American Association of People with Disabilities, US Census SIPP 1997 http://www.aapd-dc.org

 National Association of the Deaf, March 2000 Current Population Survey http://www.nad.org

 U.S. Dept. of Justice, Federal Americans with Disabilities Act http://www.usdoj.gov

 California State Assembly, Assembly Member Robert Pacheco  http://www.assembly.ca.gov/defaulttext.asp

 AB 772, Legislative Bill Research  http://www.leginfo.ca.gov


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