Hotel officials and disabled-rights groups to meet over pool access

September 10, 2012|By Hugo Martin
  • Pool lifts for disabled swimmers can cost up to $6,500.
Pool lifts for disabled swimmers can cost up to $6,500. (Chris Carlson/Associated…)

Following a boycott against 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 guests.

A federal requirement under the Americans with Disability Act says that 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 set to take effect this year but has been postponed by the Obama administration until January.

The American Hotel & Lodging Assn. and the Asian American Hotel Owners Assn. have asked the federal government to ease the rules 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, D.C., the two sides have already shown no indication that they will budge from their hard-line position.

"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 statement.

Meanwhile, 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 Assn. "Unfortunately, they have been unwilling to acknowledge our industry concerns."


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Follow Hugo Martin on Twitter at @hugomartin

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