On March 5, 2021, five disability organizations, and two Idahoans with disabilities, entered into an agreement with the Idaho Legislature. The agreement concerns accommodations for public testimony and improvements to the Legislative website for Idahoans who are blind, low vision, and print disabled. Many people with disabilities are at greater risk for severe complications from COVID-19.
The lawsuit, filed in January, sought reasonable modifications under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Both laws require state entities, like the Idaho Legislature, to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Through this agreement, the Idaho State Legislature agreed to allow remote testimony in all committee hearings where public testimony is accepted. It also requires the Legislature’s website to make improvements so it is more accessible for blind, low vision, and print disabled Idahoans who use screen readers.
“We are pleased that Idaho’s Legislative Leadership have recognized and worked to accommodate the rights of Idahoans with disabilities,” said Jeremy Maxand, Executive Director for the Living Independence Network Corporation. “We also appreciate the cooperative manner in which this matter was resolved. Persons with disabilities are at higher risk of severe complications, and even of dying from COVID-19. We look forward to making our voices heard and continuing to participate in the legislative process through fully functional remote testimony and the in-person precaution of adequate social distancing.”
“No one should have to choose between their health and their right to petition their government,” said Amy Cunningham, Executive Director for DisAbility Rights Idaho. “The Americans with Disabilities Act provides important protections, and here ensures that persons with disabilities can receive the same government services as persons without disabilities.”
The lawsuit was brought by the Disability Action Center – Northwest, Inc., DisAbility Rights Idaho, Living Independence Network Corporation, Life – A Center For Independent Living, the Intermountain Fair Housing Council, and two individuals. They were represented by attorneys from the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law School as well as the local law firm, Stoel Rives, LLP.
The official press release is available here:Press-release-consent-decree-March-2021