True Activists Don’t Just Drive By
Here’s an unpopular opinion: Anderson Cooper’s recent coverage of “drive-by lawsuits” on 60 Minutes wasn’t nearly as egregious as many disabled people seem to believe. Such lawsuits, named for the speed and lack of warning with which they are initiated, are filed against business owners whose locations do not fully comply with the accessibility standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Cooper’s angle was, unfortunately, strongly slanted against the importance of adhering to the laws set forth by the ADA. But even from my vantage point as a wheelchair user and activist who fights fiercely for accessibility, I’m not fully on board with the disability community directing the majority of their anger toward Cooper. Though his reporting on these lawsuits missed the mark in multiple ways, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Cooper exposed a major issue: There are lawyers out there undermining the hard work of activists, and the ADA itself, by recruiting disabled people to sue for even the most minor ADA violations as a money-making scheme.
— Emily Ladau, editor-in-chief, Rooted in Rights,