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Disability-rights advocates push hotel officials to implement pool accessibility

Sep 11, 2012 12:22 pm

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Despite hotel strikes by several advocacy groups this summer, progress has been stagnant as each side is unwilling to compromise and the government has pushed the issue aside until January.

— Samantha Shankman

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After a boycott of several hotel chains, leaders of disability-rights groups and representatives of the nation’s hotel industry plan to meet Tuesday to discuss requirements that hotels make their pools accessible to handicapped customers.

A federal requirement under the Americans with Disability Act says the owners of pools accessible to the public must install permanent lifts for use by guests with disabilities. Such lifts cost up to $6,500 per pool.

The requirement was to have taken effect this year but was postponed by the Obama administration until January.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association. and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association have asked the federal government to to allow hotels owners to meet the requirement with temporary lifts, which are much cheaper than permanent lifts.

This summer, four disabled-rights groups launched a boycott of the hotels operated by the board members of the two hotel trade groups.

Although a meeting is set Tuesday in Washington, the two sides have already shown no indication that they will budge from their positions.

“We’re happy to see AH&LA come back to the table, but make no mistake_lip service is no substitute for real reform in this area,” Bruce Darling, a spokesman for ADAPT, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, said in a written statement.

Hotel industry officials say it the disabled-rights groups that need to be flexible.

“If the disability advocates are at long last willing to finally negotiate in good faith, we will listen to what has changed in their position,” said Rickey Dana, a spokesman for the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Unfortunately, they have been unwilling to acknowledge our industry concerns.”

(c)2012 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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