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Opinion

Camurati: Hotel owners foolish to fight ADA provisions for pool accessibility

Stefan Freeman demonstrates how to access a swimming

Stefan Freeman demonstrates how to access a swimming pool using a hydraulic car lift in Mission Viejo, Calif. (April 11, 2012) Credit: AP

Summer is coming to a peak and last-minute vacation plans need to be finalized – just in time for a major hotel boycott. National and local organizations alike are imploring travelers still making reservations to inquire about access to the pool — the disability access.

Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act have been in the works for years. Revised regulations for both commercial and public pools were finalized in 2010 and became effective in March 2011, giving hotel owners a full year before the deadline to comply.

Two groups — the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association — petitioned the government to extend the deadline requiring wheelchair-accessible entrances such as permanent lifts or sloped entries and won a little leeway.

Lobbying from the hotel industry sent disability activists into a tizzy, seeing the move as a way to circumvent the ADA and discriminate against disabled patrons.

Now, the American Association of People with Disabilities is spearheading a campaign targeting more than 100 Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn, Kimpton and Radisson locations across the country. Eight are in New York – six in Manhattan and two upstate.

"These industry groups are fighting tooth and nail to prevent Americans with disabilities from gaining access to their pools," charges Mark Perriello, president of the American Assn. of People With Disabilities, in a press release.

These hotel groups are fighting a battle that can’t be won. The deadline was extended to early next year, giving owners six full months to add the lifts. Owners can continue to fight for extensions, but in the process they’ll not only lose business but also look foolish.

Not all customers use a wheelchair, but the disabled spent $13.6 billion on travel in 2002, $4.2 billion on hotels. That’s not a clientele you want to run off.

The other chains managed — why couldn’t you?

Pictured above: Stefan Freeman demonstrates how to access a swimming pool using a hydraulic car lift in Mission Viejo, Calif. (April 11, 2012)

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