To those of us who have NEW MOBILITY in common, the ADA needs no explanation. It is part of our cultural landscape, and we see its successes — and its failings — everywhere. But we forget that to most Americans, the letters ADA have nothing to do with disability rights, and even less to do with civil rights. To dentists it is the American Dental Association. Those who depend on insulin to stay healthy know it as the American Diabetes Association, and to software engineers, the letters stand for a programming language. If you happen to live in Pontotoc County, Okla., A-D-A spells the name of the county seat, population 17,000.
From the beginning, even though the 1990 law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, it faced tough wheeling. The machinery of implementation didn’t exist. The Act was a suggestion, a proposition, a take-it-or-leave-it piece of legislation with no money to support it and no practical apparatus to enforce it. To some, ADA came to mean Affordable Discrimination Alternative. Businesses could escape having to make “reasonable accommodations” by pretending they couldn’t afford it.
In the minds of the drafters of the law, economic hardship was meant to apply to small businesses that could potentially be harmed by expensive modifications. It most certainly was not meant to apply to Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie theater chain in the nation (perhaps i