IL legislation to update disability access laws not likely to harm businesses, chamber says

By Emma Gallimore | Jul 5, 2016

Updates to accessibility guidelines won’t have much of an effect on businesses, but will bring regulations up to date with federal law, said a spokesperson from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation to update the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act, originally enacted in 1985. The bill, known as SB 2956, would update state law to bring it into compliance with the Standards for Accessible Design under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The bill was sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner on June 27 for his consideration.

“It didn’t change anything. All it did was codify what was in federal law and streamline the process so we don’t have two claims going on,” said Melissa Hahn, Director of Communication at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan applauded the passage of the legislation, a bill that she initiated. The Attorney General’s Office is entrusted with enforcing accessibility laws.

“People living with disabilities need equal access to their communities, including schools, parks and businesses,” Madigan said in a press release. “I appreciate the Senate’s strong support for increasing accessibility for people with disabilities in Illinois.”

Changes under SB 2956 focus mostly on updating standards to meet ADA guidelines. They include updating definitions for accessible design, replacing an outdated state standard for accessibility, and updating enforcement provisions with an emphasis on working with businesses to resolve issues. The bill also clarifies which versions of the EBA and Illinois Accessibility Code apply to current construction and renovation projects.

Representatives from both the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses in Illinois said they’ve heard no concerns from members businesses about the changes.

Other groups applauded the changes for making it easier for in state organizations to comply with federal regulations.

“Our members are committed to designs that inspire and are accessible to all, and SB 2956 will help architects ensure that projects meet both state and federal accessibility laws and regulations” said Dan Hohl, director of government affairs for the American Institute of Architects in Illinois in a press release.

Madigan's office said the legislation furthers her goal of increasing accessibility for those with disabilities. 

In tandem with the presentation of this legislation, the Attorney General’s office is working with the Capital Development Board to update the Illinois Accessibility Code, technical building regulations that correspond with the EBA. Only the Capital Development Board has the power to update the Illinois Accessibility Code so collaboration is needed to ensure that the changes are complimentary.

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Illinois Chamber of Commerce Illinois General Assembly

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