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Saturday, March 31, 2012

April, Civil Rights & Swimming pools? (By Scott Lissner)

What does April, civil rights and swimming pools have in common?  Thirty
Five Years ago (April 5, 1977) thousands of disabled protestors
converged on federal offices around the country demanding that the equal
rights legislation Congress had passed five years earlier be
implemented.  In San Francisco they took over the Health Education and
Welfare office. On April 28, 1977 they ended the longest occupation of a
federal building in U.S. history when the regulations implementing
Section 504  were signed into law.  Section 504 laid the foundation for
the Americans With Disabilities Act and it's Standards for Accessible
Design.  Currently a section of those standards assuring access to
swimming pools at hotels, motels, gyms,... is being challenged

These standards <>  have already been
through the rule making process, including public comment and were
posted as final in 2011.  With over a year to prepare for the March 15th
2012 implementation date business and industry associations successfully
lobbied for and extension
<>  to
the pool standards and are now working to overturn the requirement that
pools be equipped with lifts or have other means for providing access.

The Department of Justice is taking public comment
on this issue through April fourth.  I encourage you to comment, your
voice is important

"The San Francisco 504 sit-in
<>  did not succeed
because of a brilliant strategy by a few disability leaders. It
succeeded because the Deaf people set up a communication system from the
4th floor windows inside the building to the plaza down below; because
the Black Panther Party brought a hot dinner to all 150 participants
every single night; because people from community organizing backgrounds
taught us how to make collaborative decisions; because friends came and
washed our hair in the janitor's closet sink.   The people doing
disability rights work in the 1970s rarely agreed on policies, or even
on approaches. The successes came because people viewed each other as
invaluable resources working towards a common goal." (Corbett Joan
O'Toole, Ragged Edge Online October 19, 2005)

Friday I received the note below from a colleague:

As of Friday morning there were  233 public comments posted and are
available to view, 138  were posted by  hotel, municipality, campground,
homeowners association or other related sounding names).  Also as of
this morning, there were only 13 that were clearly identifiable as
coming from disability rights organizations, again based on the
organizational names.

I then decided to look at a random sample of submissions with just a
person's name, and Gerald Powell's comment was the first random one I
looked and it was so extreme and offensive, that I had to share it.

Submitter Information

Name: Gerald Powell

General Comment

The pool lift is an unnecessary expense. Most lodging facilities pools
are open 3 months out of the year. It is an amenity that many guest want
but few use. In 22 years of working in hotels not once have I had a
person need assistance in or out of the pool. If I had I would not have
allowed them in the pool. Safety is the foremost concern. If someone is
unable to safely get in and out of a pool without aid I do not want them
in my pool. Furthermore, if someone who needed a lift to get in and out
of a pool had some type of paralysis, there is a very real possibility
they may have lack of bowel control. Then I am dealing with a real
health issue. Due I then have the right to charge that person the cost
of cleaning the pool as well as loss of revenue from my pool being

It should be an individual business's choice to cater to a special needs
I then looked at about another 15 or 20 comments with no organizational
affiliations and they seem to be split about half and half of people
with disabilities saying in essence we have waited long enough and
others that say pool lifts should be delayed or were not necessary or
should be a business decision or something to that effect.

I have no idea how representative my random sample was but it is clear
the industry is getting a ton of their members to submit comments.

So if you have not commented, please do. Here is the link:!submitComment;D=DOJ-CRT-2012-0006-0001

1 comment:

  1. For almost 3 decades. Finally, this year 2012 we are happily enjoying our rights. It takes a long process...a long time to have this law fully be implemented. Swimming pools are not only for those normal people but also for us who have physical disabilities.