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Can We Talk About Disability and Net Neutrality?

Can We Talk About Disability and Net Neutrality?

It seems every month or so there is a new call to action for a new cause.  Whether it’s defeating a racist, pedophile in a Senate race in a very red state (I’m looking at you Roy Moore), or saving healthcare, or saving the internet.  One thing that I notice is that in all these movements and, I guess protests (?), is that no one ever talks about how losing any of these would affect the disabled. At least not really.  It’s usually the disabled population who bring it up.

So I want to share with you a thread which focused on net neutrality and the impact that loss would be on the disabled population.

First of all, what is net neutrality and what is this here fight?  Well, according to Save The Internet, net neutrality is the reason why we can freely search the internet, be connected to the sites we want, not have to worry about some cable minion messing with our internet experience, and so on.  Net neutrality is why I was able to to search keywords for the link I provide in my posts.  Save The Internet says:

Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open internet.

I honestly can’t make it any simpler than what they said, so I won’t try.

But here’s something to consider, the fight for some of us isn’t just about the extra fees or fast and slow lanes.  It’s about how the free internet we have now makes the world much more accessible for the disabled.  I want to share with you a 10-point thread on my twitter feed in which I try to explain the impact.  I barely scratched the surface.

It’s true, when it comes to these fights and protests and causes, no one ever really considers the impact on an entire subset of people.  PWDs are often an afterthought.  You know, that friend you invite to the party at the last minute only after you realize you hadn’t already, and now you feel guilty. (Sidenote: If you had invited us to the party conversation from the beginning, you wouldn’t feel so bad).

Back to the topic: Net Neutrality and Disability.

Okay I have to stop here.  Can I just tell you how SICK I am of seeing celebrities and these non-profit organizations use us as marketing and goodwill?  Trust me when I say that ribbon you bought for $15 is not going to anyone other than the executives and the celebrity fees.  And many times these awareness campaigns do not actually address many of the real-world issues PWDs face.  They are focused more on tugging the heartstrings.  So, we do it ourselves.

Again, there is SO much more but, you get the idea.

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What does HR 620 do?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a protection that ensures equal access and opportunity to people with disabilties (PWD) in places and services with public accommodations. What this means is that under the ADA, places like schools, businesses and other places opened to and serving the public must be accessible to those with different disabilties. The ADA provides owners and operators with specific guidelines and assistance to become compliant. It also provides several exceptions.

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No to HR 620

No to HR 620

IT is called the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.  IT was introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX-2) and five co-sponsors (four from CA).

But don’t let the name fool you.  The only reforming HR 620 will do is destroy the protections provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

If it weren’t for the ADA, many people with disabilities (PWD) would be excluded from society.  PWDs would be largely unable to lead independent lives.  The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 has been around for 27 years.  This means businesses and public accommodations have had 27 years to get their act together.

Now the 63 members of the House of Representatives want to undo the protections of the ADA.

63 members of the House of Representatives want to make it more difficult for PWDs to travel, go to school, shop, work…live.

So I wrote a letter to my representative.  I realized that based on the name alone he would vote for it.  Who wouldn’t vote for something that provides “education” and “fixes” the ADA! I would.  But then, I read these bills a lot closer.

Here is the memo (pdf | html) outlining what it does and its implications.

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