As a direct result of a national boycott and subsequent grassroots protests and direct actions by disability rights groups, the American Hotel & Lodging Association is coming back to the negotiating table to “continue this discussion” regarding the ADA requirement for hotel swimming pools to be made wheelchair accessible by January 31st, 2013. The meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place the week of September 10th.
In an email, Kevin Maher, Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs at AH&LA, extended an offer to come back to the negotiating table and “continue this discussion” with the disability organizations regarding hotel industry noncompliance with the ADA’s pool lift regulations. Maher’s email comes weeks after four national disability groups— the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Disability Rights Network, ADAPT, and the National Council on Independent Living—launched a boycott of hotels represented on the boards of the AH&LA and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association (AAHOA).
During the launch of the disability groups’ boycott in July, leaders from the community outlined four distinct requirements that needed to be met by the hotel industry in order for the boycott to be suspended: AH&LA and AAHOA will cease their efforts to promote bills in Congress that eliminate their responsibilities to provide accessible lifts, including bills to amend the ADA and to de-fund the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division; provide fixed lifts at all hotels; educate member hotels about their obligation to comply with the DOJ’s rule and the tools that they can use to do so—including tax incentives for investments in accessible facilities; and issue a public statement that they are taking the above actions.
“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,” said Bruce Darling of ADAPT.