Disability rights advocates launch boycott of hotels over limited access to pools
- Year: 2012
- Length: 3:04 minutes (2.81 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark civil rights legislation that established protections against discrimination and accessibility requirements for transportation, workplaces and accommodations. While progress has been made over the last two decades, challenges remain. Nearly five million people with disabilities live below the poverty line and just over 20 percent participate in the labor force. Accessibility is also still an issue. Rights advocates are highlighting resistance by the hotel industry to delay installing lifts in swimming pools that assist people with disabilities in accessing the water. Mark Perriello is president of the American Association of People with Disabilities, one of the groups that just launched a boycott against hotels, including Marriott, Kimpton, and Comfort Suites. “The hotel industry led by its trade assocations pressured the Department of Justice, pressured Congress to delay and revise its rule requiring fully accessible fixed pool lifts and lobbied Congress to cut an exemption out of the ADA or stop the civil rights division from doing its job.” Perriello says the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association have been involved in lobbying Congress and pressured the DOJ to delay implementation of the pool lift requirement to 2013. Some hotels with less-accessible portable lifts were grandfathered in. “People with disabilities are already getting less than what we paid for. When you go to a hotel with a pool you can’t use because the owners didn’t install a lift, they don’t give you a discount. They just give you less than what you paid for. So we’re saying no. No you can’t have my money to lobby against me and no I won’t be a second-class customer.” Colleen Kelly Starkloff is co-director of the Starkloff Disability Institute. She said the issue affects her personally, as it prevented her late husband from fully accessing hotel amenities with his family. “We travelled all over this country. Many of our trips were car trips, but always our end destinations required that we stay at hotels or motels. At no time was my husband able to get into the pool with our kids. He had to sit next to the pool on the pool deck watching our kids playing in the water and sometimes I’d get in with them, sometimes I’d sit on the pool deck to be next to my husband. But at no time could he enjoy the full opportunities that the hotel or motel offered to the rest of the guests.” Starkloff and other disability rights groups say complying with ADA also makes business sense, as many disability conferences are held at hotels across the country. The groups are highlighting the hotels that do have accessible pools and urging people to take their business there.