"Newsletter – June 2009" table of contents
NEWSLETTER UPDATE – JUNE, 2009
FROM PHYLLIS F. RESNICK, PRESIDENT
HELLO, AGAIN, EVERYBODY!!!!!
Please allow us to commence by addressing the matters of costs and trees. As the costs of printing and paper continue to rise and the loss of trees continues to grow, we have been thinking of sending this newsletter electronically ONLY, to those who have e-mail, while continuing to send it by postal mail to those who do not. (Or, in the alternative, one could log on to our website and read it there.) If you would like to receive future newsletters by email or via the website, rather than in paper form, please send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) indicating so and we will then cease sending all future newsletters by postal mail, except to those who wish to continue that way. Thank you for your cooperation!
Well, another 6 months have passed since our last newsletter and much continues to happen in the world of “Access Now”®. We have had several Class Action Fairness Hearings, a trial and many Settlements. It has been an active, interesting, challenging, sometimes aggravating, but mostly gratifying time! Some things are happening in the overall A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act) world as well; more about all of the above later in this newsletter.
We would like to point out to those of you who are receiving this newsletter for the first time that, sadly, many entities continue to fail to comply with the A.D.A., despite the fact that the law was enacted in 1990. As we have said before, we continue to press on with cases against a variety of entities. On a continuing basis, virtually daily, we receive complaints from disabled persons who are routinely being denied their rights under this civil rights law. There is no such thing as a “large” or “small” case, only a large or small entity and we take pride in the fact that we do not limit our efforts to either category. The resolution of high profile cases of legal “first impression”, as well as of those involving neighborhood businesses have a great impact on the daily lives of the disabled among us (although we want to make clear that it is not our aim to put anyone out of business.)
NOEL NEUDECK – REFLECTIONS ON A FIGHTER
I want to begin this issue by paying tribute to Noel Neudeck, one of the most tenacious leaders of our movement. Noel died two years ago in San Diego, California. He was 70 years old.
We had difficulty getting information regarding Noel’s passing, but our late tribute in no way detracts from our admiration of the things he accomplished for our community during his life of service.
The first thing one found out about Noel was that he knew the law. That meant he knew when public officials or business owners were not complying with their legal obligations. And when they chose to ignore the law, Noel let them know they were not going to get away with it. Over four decades Noel was a tireless advocate for the disabled community. His monuments are the numerous public venues now accessible to the disabled community through his efforts.
Noel was also a man who didn’t mince words. Some may have labeled his style “confrontational”, but he got results. When the City of San Diego built Qualcomm Stadium without complying with disability access standards, Noel refused to give them a free pass. He sued, and the city made $6.5 million in accessibility improvements to the stadium. Noel’s point was that the law is the law, and not even government is above the law! If it took “confrontation” to drive that point home, Noel would have responded, “So be it!”
Noel was not always a rabble-rouser: That was just one tool he used to achieve his goal of demolishing barriers. He toiled as far back as the early-1970s in the California Department of Transportation working with state architects designing curb ramps to ease travel for wheelchair-users. In this aspect Noel was one of the true pioneers who presaged the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I believe he possessed a prescient knowledge of how the law could catch up with and support the needs of the disabled community. Noel knew instinctively that architectural design, political advocacy and legal action were always different arrows to be drawn as needed from his equal rights quiver.
We miss – and will continue to miss – Noel’s robust advocacy. However, he has taught us that we can never be afraid to demand what is rightfully ours. To do so we cannot focus only on the trials of today, but we must prepare for tomorrow’s tribulations as well. Noel’s “confrontational” tactics worked so well because he was always prepared for the battle to come.
Rest well, Dear Friend.