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PARALYZED VETERANS LOSING THEIR PATIENCE

 PARALYZED VETERANS LOSING THEIR PATIENCE
 GARDEN CITY, Mich., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The state headquarters


for the Michigan Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America has announced that it will begin filing complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission against businesses that refuse to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
 The Americans With Disabilities Act, which was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 1990, is now the law of the land.
 Title III of this act took effect on Jan. 26, 1992, and requires all public accommodations to make their facilities, goods and services accessible to persons with a disability, including those who use wheelchairs for mobility.
 John Etherton, executive director for the Michigan Chapter of PVA, stated that, "We have spent thousands of dollars trying to inform the business community about this new law, as well as furnishing thousands of booklets, brochures, and other information to Michigan businesses and chambers of commerce. However, at this point there seems to be very little evidence that most businesses are taking any action to comply. In fact, some are saying that they will not do anything unless forced to do so."
 The requirements under this law can be as simple as installing a handicapped parking sign or as extensive as widening doorways and making restrooms wheelchair accessible.
 However, if the cost of doing so would create an undue financial burden on the business in question, then they may be excused from extensive modifications. But even then, a business must provide alternative methods to assist the disabled customer in acquiring those goods and services. For example, if it would be too costly to widen the aisles of a store, to allow wheelchair access, then someone in the store must be prepared to assist the person with the disability by retrieving the goods he/she wishes to purchase.
 Self-serve gas stations may also be required to pump gas for persons with a disability and a waitress may be required to read the restaurant menu to a person who is blind.
 For small businesses who make the necessary modifications, the IRS will allow up to a $5,000 tax credit per year on their tax return. Additional incentives allow up to $15,000 in tax deductions.
 For those businesses which do not make any effort to comply, they could be fined up to $50,000 for the first offense and may also incur monetary damages as a result of a disability discrimination lawsuit.
 Etherton stated that, "It is not our intention to put anyone out of business and we will continue to assist the business community whenever possible to avoid any litigation. The key here is to make an honest effort to comply with the law. Most businesses will find that it is not that expensive to install handicapped parking signs or to ramp a couple of steps."
 Etherton went on to say that, "This organization worked very hard for several years to gain passage of this law and now it's up to us to see that it is enforced, or it's not worth the paper it's written on. Military veterans who fought for their country shouldn't have to fight for a handicapped parking space or access to their neighborhood grocery store or any other public accommodation. But unfortunately, we are being forced to do just that."
 For more information on the Americans With Disabilities Act call Michigan PVA at 1-800-638-MPVA.
 -0- 4/21/92
 /CONTACT: Ron Muschong or John Etherton of the Michigan Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America, 1-800-638-MPVA/ CO: Michigan Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America ST: Michigan IN: SU:


SB-ML -- DE028 -- 0872 04/21/92 16:36 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 21, 1992
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