AID.org - Fighting Against Disability Discrimination
Author: Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities - Foundation : Contact: AID.org
Synopsis and Key Points:
Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID.org) outlines new business model in hopes to make permanent changes in ADA compliance.
AID.org's Mission to Begin the Decade's Largest Fight Against Discrimination.
Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID.org) outlines new business model in hopes to make permanent changes in ADA compliance
AID Foundation is working towards a goal of 100% complete ADA compliance, starting in Arizona and making their way across the country in an effort to put an end to discrimination against those with disabilities entering local public accommodations.
The founders of AID.org were not born with disabilities, but today, they live with disabilities. These disabilities coupled with the constant discrimination they faced, started the conversations that ultimately led to the creation of the Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities Foundation, a non-profit organization also known as AID Foundation and AID.org. The goal of AID.org is to better the lives of millions of individuals with disabilities though charitable giving, education and ADA compliance.
An AID founder recently learned about life with a disability after a tragic accident in which he lost his wife and son. He survived along with his two other children, but their lives would obviously never be the same again. The extremely long and painful rehabilitation eventually allowed him to talk and even walk again, but there are many scars, wounds, disabilities and constant pain which still makes life different, not worse, just different. Life thrust him and his family, friends and caregivers into a new world, opening their eyes to the injustices, the unwanted stares, the pity looks, the rejection and ultimately the blatant discrimination that comes with living with a disability, even when those disabilities are not always visually apparent.
AID's founders knew they weren't alone. They were and are grateful for the lives, abilities and resources they had and agreed they would use those resources to make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities. They want the world to see what they saw and experienced and to change it for the better.
Passion for ADA Compliance
AID.org found barriers. Everywhere, barriers that should have been removed in 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act was made federal law.
The founders questioned why these laws, human laws, were not taken seriously. The only apparent answer was that no one was enforcing them. The common public perception with business is "No one else is complying with the ADA, so why should I?" ADA compliance means spending the time learning the laws, effort to become compliant and money to do it right. Those are all reasons and excuses the AID.org team has heard repeatedly about why businesses are still not following the law.
Like any new entity or venture, there is always a learning curve with mistakes and lessons learned along the process. And even AID.org had room to grow and learn more about the community they so wish to serve.
One mistake AID.org made early on was choosing the first name, "Advocates for American Disabled Individuals". AID.org said, "This mistake came about because we were personally thrust into life with disabilities and did not have a grasp on what terminology was offensive and what was appropriate." AID.org was just like the rest of the general public and had been blind to all of the issues that individuals with disabilities can face on a daily basis. In an effort to jump in with both feet, a mistake was made.
Once the foundation discovered their mistake, they quickly changed the name to "Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities" putting the person first, and also not allowing their name to portray discrimination against helping non-Americans. This issue was brought to AID.org's attention by a man who lives with disabilities, David Ritzenthaler. Dave explained, "The person should be first because a person isn't defined by their disability - we are people before anything else, regardless of what we are each overcoming."
Stay Passionate, While Keeping Compassion
Admittedly, AID.org is extremely passionate about public accommodations (businesses) being in compliance after more than a quarter of a century. They have found, through surveying thousands of parking lots, 97% of the parking lots of public accommodations are not in compliance with the ADA. AID Foundation's spokesperson says, "These barriers are defiant discrimination of US citizens' civil rights, there is no other way to look at it."
AID.org reports that these simple exterior parking issues are, more times than not, symptomatic of rampant non-compliance inside the associated buildings. If the parking lot is non-compliant (in violation of Federal and State Law) then it is highly likely the building's interior is even more egregious in breaking Federal and State ADA and AzDA Laws.
AID.org says," Unfortunately, despite the fact that public notice has been given for over 26 years, most public accommodations still won't own responsibility for their violation of individual's civil rights."
It has been suggested that AID.org should just educate business owners in the hopes that once the violations are noted they might voluntarily comply with the ADA and stop breaking the law without the threat of being sued and held accountable. But AID.org argues that laws don't work that way.
A spokesperson says, "Don't we wish all laws worked this way? That if I speed in my car breaking the posted speed limit, it's the police officer's duty to pull me over, tell me to slow down and not give me a ticket. If everyone knew a police officer would only pull you over and never give you a ticket for anything; then why obey any traffic law? We're not talking about simply violating traffic laws, we are talking about violating individuals with disabilities' rights to able to access a public place, we are talking about outright discrimination. Immediate, massive and widespread action must be taken."
AID.org's goal is to quickly cause compliance at 100% of the public accommodations across the country. Despite this lofty and daunting task, they are determined to aggressively attack the issue as no one has in the past.
AID.org says, "No one in history has had the guts, resources and fortitude to take it on, knowing that nearly every public accommodation business owner in the county opposes this mission. That these business owners will try to attack and fight them for forcing them to stop breaking the law. Law breakers can be very vindictive, and try to point fingers, make excuses and cast the blame elsewhere; we know from experience."
How Does AID.org Plan to Conquer the Non-Compliance Issue On Such a Wide Scale?
Below is the actual outline of how AID.org plans to bring about a rapid and wide spread wave of ADA Compliance after 26 years:
- Informative TV Commercials: Educational TV spots promoting ADA compliance and warning of the consequences of associated civil rights violations.
- Informative Radio Commercials: Educational radio spots promoting ADA compliance and warning of the consequences of associated civil rights violations.
- Press Releases: Bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with disabilities and the discrimination they are forced to overcome.
- Free Educational ADA Training Courses: Free ADA training courses are available to the general public.
- Educational Videos: Promoted videos on YouTube and other social media outlets bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with disabilities and the discrimination they are forced to overcome.
- Outreach Programs: Making charitable assistance available to those with disabilities as well as a method of reporting ADA violations and discrimination.
- Forthcoming and Upfront: Millions of pre-inspection letters will be mailed out in advance informing potential violators that we will be preforming an ADA compliance inspection in their area. These letters also inform businesses what violations we will be inspecting for so they can correct any issues in advance, and that if they fail to correct such violations, they will be subject to a civil rights legal enforcement action.
- Understanding and Forgiving: Post-inspection findings letters are quickly mailed and either a) thank them for compliance on what we inspect for and award a "Civil Rights Champion" Sticker, OR, b) informing them of violations found and providing an opportunity and instructions on how to voluntarily fix violations and avoid legal action.
- Clear and Forceful: Be very clear that we are serious about compliance that we are, a) in the process of compiling and filing a ADA legal enforcement action, and b) if they contact us and provide proof that they have or are in the process of correcting the violations that we will drop the case as long as they do so before we file ADA legal enforcement action.
- Never Settling for Non-Compliance: If a legal action is filed, as a last resort, due to an ADA violation being found and the failure of the Violator to correct the violation, we vow never to drop or settle a case without requiring the Violator to correct the violations with an agreed upon specific "Agreed Compliance Date" that the violation must be corrected by.
- Reinvesting in Compliance Enforcement: Settlement proceeds, after expenses, are not only re-invested in bringing about ever expanding ADA compliance, but also used by the AID Foundation to provide life changing assistance and grants for individuals with disabilities. (Apply for a grant at Aid.org)
- Reward Compliance with Cash: Once a legal Settlement has been agreed to with a Violator agreeing to a specific "Agreed Compliance Date", the Violator may complete an AID.org webinar training course and receive a percentage a settlement rebate determined by AID.org. Training courses are to start this Fall.
- Reminders of Upcoming Agreed Compliance Date: Diligent in follow through, AID.org sends post litigation compliance reminder letters 30 days prior to their "Agreed Compliance Date" informing Violators of our upcoming re-Inspection in order to verify that they have completed the correction of the ADA violations.
- Diligent in Follow Through: After the "Agreed Compliance Date" we re-inspect to verify violations have been corrected and either; a) send them a thank you letter and award them a "Civil Rights Champion" Sticker, OR, b) send them a letter informing them that the violations have still NOT been corrected and that if they contact us and provide proof that they have or are in the process of correcting the violations, we will not file additional legal actions against them for a period of time long enough to resolve the violation(s).
- Relentlessly Demanding Compliance, Regardless of the Public Opinion of Violators: We will always remember that we did not embark on this mission to make friends with business owners who Violate the ADA. We also recognize that Violators are business which are "Advertisers" who will try to cause the media to paint us in a bad light and claim that the violating business are the victims and that we are the perpetrators. This is NOT the case, the individuals with disabilities are the Victims the violating business are the perpetrators. After over 26 years it is finely time for someone to have the guts to step up and take on the millions of businesses that willfully violate the Civil Rights of individuals with disabilities. We will not waiver in our fight for ADA Compliance.
Civil Rights Champions
AID.org knows they will make waves, and ends with this message, "We have seen businesses being portrayed as the victims and advocates for individuals with disabilities labeled as the 'bad guys' for enforcing the quarter century old law which was put in place to protect individuals with disabilities from being discriminated against. Activists, Advocates and Committed Individuals associated with this cause have repeatedly been intimidated, pressured, threatened and bashed by the press (funded by violating businesses) in order to cause activist and advocates to discontinue fighting this civil rights battle. Law breaking businesses don't have to 'waste' even a few hundred dollars to grant equal access to all individuals, regardless of their disability if they don't have to. The issue isn't business being sued; the issue is businesses being upset about being caught and forced to quit breaking a 26-year-old law. EVERYONE knows about the ADA requirements, but very few care."
As Civil Rights Champions, AID.org was formed in January 2016 in order to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through charitable gifts, opportunities and the removal of discriminatory barriers. By spearheading a rapid and widespread wave of compliance through educational and affirmative enforcement actions, AID.org not only rapidly brings not-compliant public accommodation into ADA compliance but also acts as a self-funding catalyst for the charitable AID Foundation.
The AID Foundation is a growing resource for any individual with a disability looking to receive help with various issues relating to their disability or compelling needs such as: wheelchair access, medical equipment, and much more. Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities - Foundation aims to help improve the lives of 3 to 4 individuals with disabilities per day.
If you agree with AID.org's mission, go to their website www.aid.org and look at how to get involved. They encourage anyone who has not read the law, to check it out at www.ada.gov
AID.org wants to help others. Those with disabilities can make their requests online at www.aid.org
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