Well in what’s probably the shortest public comment period ever — just two weeks — the Department of Justice (DOJ) has received 1358 comments regarding the pool and spa access regulations. Of course the lodging industry was well represented, with a good number of properties sending in form letters penned by their lobbyists. That comes as no surprise; after all that’s what they pay their lobbyists for.
But here’s the really cool part. Over 55% of those comments were from people with disabilities, their friends, family members, Joe Public and grass roots disability focused organizations. Most of those comments were pretty direct, and some even contained personal stories about what it feels like to be denied access, and telling the DOJ that they just want to swim and enjoy the water like everyone else. This is great, not only because of the volume of the response, but because of the tone. No form letters there!
And although I didn’t read every letter — that?s the DOJ’s job — I did scan some of them. And as you might expect there were a few that stood out. On the incredibly idiotic side, there was the comment from Yorgi Karlinus of Freethinkers for Sanity .
“There is nothing that prohibits an otherwise able-bodied, wheelchair bound, healthy person from getting into a pool by exiting the wheelchair and crawling in. If a person is not able to perform that task, they are too great a risk to be encouraged to enter a pool (without supervision or company).
The ADA should be confined to forcing businesses to accommodate disabled people’s needs –that is necessities, not luxuries. Pool enjoyment is a luxury, not a need, no matter how much someone desires it.”
What can I say? Yorgi is so ignorant he’s almost funny. In fact, he makes a pretty good case for our side just by showing his ignorance.
And some comments stood out in a very good way. Like this excellent one from the good folks at the Silicon Valley CIL
“The manufactured outrage over this is merely an attempt by the hospitality industry and its allies in Congress to chip away at the Americans With Disabilities Act. If DOJ doesn’t stand up to them now, they’ll keep coming back to take way more of our rights, piece by piece.”
Now it’s in the DOJ’s hands. It’s hard to second guess these folks, as I’ve been wrong before, but some sources say to expect a ruling by mid-May. And hopefully that ruling will require implementation of the regulations as written, without further delay.
Let’s keep a good thought.