Posted by: Steve Marr on Aug 10, 2012
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The Americans with Disability Act was passed years ago in an effort to insure that all people have access to everyday activities. The guidelines are regularly updated. This year Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez announced several changes that have far ranging implications for many businesses.
I personally support reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities. I injured my right arm when I was six and don’t have full use of my hand and arm. I need to understand and accept my limitations. There are some tasks and activities that I don’t do very well or can’t do at all. For example, rock or mountain climbing is not a good idea for me because I don’t have the strength to maintain hand holds. My perspective is that we need to understand realistic boundaries. The efforts to open up activities to the disabled are well intended; however, some regulations bring major burdens to business.
The new guidelines state that “a public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.” The advantage of a miniature horse over a dog is that most people don’t have allergic reactions to the horse. It also respects Muslims who will not use a dog because they view them unclean. These horses can be housebroken, and news reports demonstrate that they work very well. Aside from the shock value when the first horse enters your establishment, complying with this rule is easy.
Other regulations are more difficult. Miniature golf courses are required to make the course wheelchair accessible. This may require building a path next to the golf course and keeping the width of the course to 60 inches so that a wheelchair bound person could play. Most miniature golf is marginally profitable, or is used as an attraction to pull in customers for other activities. The cost of complying will likely cause many to close rather than spend money for upgrades.
Traditional gulf courses are also included in the updated regulations. Golf courses must provide “an accessible route to connect all accessible elements within the boundary.” An accessible route must also “connect golf car rental areas, bag drop areas, teeing grounds, putting greens, and weather shelters.” Each modification will cost money.
Gyms also must adapt. “At least one of each type of exercise machine must be positioned for use by a person in a wheelchair.” While those in wheelchairs may benefit from exercise, this will be difficult to implement. Amusement parks will need to “provide at least one seat for a person in a wheelchair.”
A requirement that all public swimming pools must provide access to the disabled takes effect in January of 2013. To comply with these regulations, the pool operator will need to install a lift capable of placing a disabled person in the water. This also affects thousands of pools in hotels, motels and other locations who will close rather than absorb the cost of the new features.
Paul understood weakness when he wrote, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NIV)
We all need to understand and accept out limitations. While businesses should make reasonable accommodations, implementing these new rules will impact businesses negatively. The advantage it offers to those who will be able to enjoy a swim as a result of these changes will be offset by thousands who will not when the pools are closed.
Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach
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