Sen. Eric Lesser Votes With Senate to Pass Bills Addressing Persons with Disabilities

Sen. Eric P. Lesser voted with the Massachusetts Senate this week to pass numerous bills aimed at improving quality of life for persons with disabilities. “More than 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act, our Commonwealth and country has made significant progress in ensuring equal opportunity and treatment for persons with disabilities,” Sen. Lesser said. “These bills passed by Senate has set an example for building upon the ADA’s strong foundation, and for continuing to help remove barriers preventing people with disabilities from reaching their full potential to live healthy, productive and satisfying lives.”

The first bill, An Act Eliminating Archaic Language Pertaining to Individuals with Disabilities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, updates the language in current laws referring to persons with disabilities (for example, changing “mentally retarded” to “individuals with a developmental disability”).  While these changes may seem minor to the general public, they carry deep personal significance to the disabled community.

The second bill, An Act Eliminating Health Disparities in the Commonwealth, establishes an Office of Health Equity within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to study health and healthcare disparities as a result of an individual’s race, ethnicity, gender or disability.

A third bill, An Act Relative to the Hiring of Persons with a disability, requires the development of standards to identify and recruit qualified applicants with disabilities. The bill also requires that all state employees involved in hiring decisions are trained and educated pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition, An Act Relative to the Architectural Access Board gives greater authority to the regulatory board that develops and enforces regulations designed to make public buildings accessible and safe for persons with disabilities, including the use of spaces around buildings, such as parking lots, passageways, and sidewalks.

“These bills make strong progress to support those with disabilities by removing barriers and bringing greater dignity and respect in the written law,” Sen. Lesser said.