AUCD Urges Action to Protect Civil Rights

August 3, 2020

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is a diverse, national interdisciplinary leadership, research, training, and service network focused on people with disabilities with a foundational commitment to inclusion, diversity, and cultural competence that supports the civil rights of all Americans, including those with developmental and other disabilities.

After carefully reviewing current proposals, including those within the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, AUCD joins the civil rights and disability communities in opposing liability shields that attempt to waive broad civil rights protections imbedded in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and other civil rights protections.

"Having just celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, to weaken protections against discrimination now - even in the midst of a pandemic - threatens the wellbeing, health and safety of people with disabilities," said John Tschida, acting executive director of AUCD. 

We are particularly alarmed by employment discrimination and public accommodations requirements that appear to be included in the shield. In the absence of federal protections, state laws would govern should challenges to businesses arise. A majority of states do not have similar anti-discrimination protections. Especially in the midst of a pandemic, people with disabilities, many of whom have underlying conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the virus, must not be targeted. The ADA and its 30 years of court precedents already take into account the needs of employers and offer alternatives where there is a defined need. We should look to that experience now rather than grant wholesale shields for bad behavior and discrimination.


AUCD urges individuals and organizations to share their objections to any effort that diminishes critical civil rights protections. Members of Congress need to hear from you. Use this opportunity to educate your Senators and Representatives about the importance of civil rights protections to all, including the millions of Americans with disabilities and their families.


The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, located in Silver Spring, MD, is a national, nonprofit organization that promotes and supports the national network of interdisciplinary centers advancing policy and practice through research, education, leadership, and services for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities. For more information, visit or contact [email protected].