FRANKFORT, KY (12/20/11)– In an effort to ensure those with disabilities are not denied access to treatment in and around their homes, state Rep. Richard Henderson is pre-filing legislation this week that would call on neighborhood associations across Kentucky to comply with the Americans With Disability Act.
The goal he and a national nonprofit organization have, however, is even broader: To see this legislation become a model adopted at the federal level.
Rep. Henderson’s bill is being filed in the wake of news that a Lexington neighborhood association is pushing to remove a playhouse in the yard of three-year-old Cooper Veloudis, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The association claims that the structure violates their neighborhood restrictions, even though it plays a major role in his day-to-day therapy.
“After hearing about Cooper’s case, I researched the issue further to see if the state could help,” said Rep. Henderson, D-Jeffersonville. “I think it can, and that it should.”
In addition to filing the bill, Rep. Henderson contacted Pat Gesualdo, who is President/CEO of Drums and Disabilities (D.A.D.), a national nonprofit organization based in New Jersey that advocates for those with such disabilities as autism, attention deficit disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome and helps them improve their coordination, speech, social skills and ability to learn. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Administration helped launch D.A.D. in 2004 in several New York City school systems. D.A.D. programs have since been used around the world.
“It’s inconceivable that a neighborhood association could violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, or that it would even want to,” Gesualdo said. “Rep. Henderson and I believe that this could be a critical loophole in the law, so we are committed to doing all we can to see that it’s closed at the federal level. That would put a stop to cases like Cooper’s once and for all.”
Rep. Henderson’s bill will be debated during the 2012 Regular Session, which begins on January 3rd. If enacted, it will be called “Cooper’s Law.” Both he and Gesualdo said they would also open dialogue with federal officials to see how they could move the proposal through Congress.
Information submitted by Communications Director Brian Wilkerson
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