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posted: 10/21/2013 5:00 AM

Straw: I am standing up for disabled people

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My name is Andrew Straw and I sent the demand letters to seven Streamwood businesses asking them for handicap spots in their parking lots and accessible entrances.

What I did is not extortion. Those who claim it was are defaming me with their false accusations of crime, and it needs to stop now. Extortion is a crime, people.

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Lawyers send demand letters every day for all sorts of cases. I practice civil rights law in Indiana, and I send demand letters in every case.

The fact is, I have a right to file suit when my rights as a disabled person are violated. I have a right to offer negotiation before filing suit.

Disabled people appear to be afraid to ask for their rights because they are either ignored or attacked. Why else would I find over 70 businesses with no handicap parking and a village government unwilling to admit anything is wrong?

I have collected no money and filed no suits, but guess what? The chamber's parking lot now has handicap spots. The village has apparently done a survey of all business parking lots for handicap access.

The chamber executive director was so sure her parking lot didn't need handicap parking. Her landlord thought otherwise.

Disability issues are dear to me. I have worked with people with disabilities in a group home, in a mental hospital and with disabled teens on summer works projects.

I worked with visually and hearing-impaired court users for 400 trial courts when I worked at the Indiana Supreme Court. I started the Disability Party.

Disabled people have the laws behind them, but they need people to stand up and demand our rights. I am proud of making my new home a bit more accessible.

Andrew Straw

Streamwood

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