It’s been weeks and disability advocates say they haven’t received an adequate response from legislative leaders about their complaints regarding access to the legislative process.
Since January the CT Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance has been urging legislative management to address what they say is a long-standing pattern of noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They say a number of individuals have had trouble accessing public hearings, which are now over.
They even filed complaints with the Department of Justice, but as of Tuesday have not had a meeting with legislative leaders or the director of Legislative Management Jim Tamburro.
The alliance wrote three letters to Tamburro before filing complaints with the Department of Justice. Tamburro did respond to one of their letters on February 17.
In his response Tamburro said “We have communicated with all committee clerks to remind them to contact our facilities team should they require additional assistance with accommodations.”
He said moving forward they are removing the 10 day advance request for sign language interpreters. He said they also contracted with a local architect and engineering firm who are experts in ADA compliance and accessibility to conduct a study of the Capitol Complex.
During one of the incidents this year, five individuals who are deaf or blind wanted to testify and arranged for accommodations with the clerk to testify early in the day, but when the hearing started the sign language interpreter for the individuals had not arrived. When she finally arrived she signed for the first two, but then left saying she wasn’t hired for all five. A kind person who was not certified as a sign language interpreter accompanied the other three.
Molly Cole, coordinator for the Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance, said Tamburro’s response is inadequate because they have yet to meet with the group.
A spokesman for Senate Democrats declined comment Tuesday. A spokesman for House Speaker Matt Ritter said Wednesday that he will reach out to the group to work on solutions.
She said all they want is for Legislative Management to put one person in charge of all of this and train the clerks on a common protocol to handle these situations.
Cole said after filing complaints with the Department of Justice on March 24 the group sent another letter asking for a meeting.
“This request was acknowledged but, again, did not receive a meaningful response,” according to a press release.
The group plans to gather at the state Capitol today at 11 a.m. to hold a press conference about the matter.