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Monday, April 25, 2011

Disability Rights Bill in Illinois

The Daily Northwestern reports:

House Bill 3010 expands the definition of "disability" to include any mental, psychological or developmental disorder such as autism. This guarantees individuals on the autism spectrum receive equal rights to public facilities like gyms and theaters.

State Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) passed the bill, his first since being elected in November, through the state House on March 29 to protect autism spectrum disorders as disabilities under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

"The diagnoses have made society grapple with the question of how best to care for, support and include this population," Biss said. "I thought legislation to help work on that would be meaningful."

Biss said the legislation is especially relevant due to the spike in autism diagnoses during the past 10 to 15 years. About one out of 110 children have an autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

"There have been instances of kids getting thrown out of restaurants, or libraries or public transportation, and it's worth putting this provision legally into the state," he said.

Earlier this year, Biss explained:

“This legislation is about fairness,” Biss said. “Autism is a disability that has become better understood and more frequently diagnosed in recent years. Those who are affected by it deserve the same rights and recognition we give to others with disabilities.”

House Bill 3010 was modeled after a New Jersey law which expands the state’s discrimination laws to include any mental, psychological, or developmental disability, including autism spectrum disorders. The bill ensures that no one diagnosed with these disorders is denied access to libraries, restaurants, gyms, pools, theaters and other public facilities.