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Disabled Americans Battle for Access to Hotel Pools
Date:7/19/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- For many disabled American travelers, a key form of summer relief -- the hotel pool -- remains out of their reach.

People with mobility challenges or paralysis often need a mechanized pool lift or a gently sloping ramp to get into the water. Without those accommodations, they're sidelined.

That's why a government mandate to make such pools accessible to people with disabilities by early next year has become an unlikely battlefield: pitting disability-rights groups against the hotel industry.

Both sides agree on one point: Everyone should be able to get into a public pool. What they don't agree on is what is doable.

Meanwhile, Ann Cody, a former track and field athlete, said she doesn't even pack her swimsuit any more when she goes on trips. Paralyzed at age 16 by transverse myelitis, a rare disease of the spinal cord, Cody is a paraplegic. As director of policy and global outreach for BlazeSports America, in Washington D.C., she travels a lot and finds even business-oriented hotels often don't have lift-access to their pools, she said.

"Swimming in the summer was always such a big part of my life, culturally and recreationally. People with disabilities want to enjoy the pool not just for health and fitness, but socially as well," Cody said.

That's why the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is urging hotels to speed up their implementation of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules stipulating that all public swimming pools, wading pools and spas be accessible to people with disabilities by Jan. 31, 2013.

The rules about accessible pools, published by the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division in 2010, were updated in May 2012 in response to feedback from the hotel industry about implementation challenges they face. The requirements mandate that public swimming area
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