F.I.T.T. Column: What do you know about the ADA?
|Associate Director, Amy Rauworth|
Our roving reporter, Brienne Davis, hit the pavement on March 13 to find out what individuals around the University of Illinois campus had to say about the ADA. Following is a brief summary of what she learned.
"The pedestrians interviewed represented a varied cross-section both demographically and with respect to knowledge about the ADA. One interviewee said he had indeed heard of the ADA and was himself a person with a disability, however it was his opinion that employers are not exercising laws with enough stringency, and that supervisors were not always trained on how to work with people with disabilities or how to comply with the ADA because, in his opinion, employers may be "too lazy". Another man said that he had not heard of the ADA, though upon further discussion we revealed that he was aware that that there are laws in place to protect those with disabilities but did not realize that they were associated with the ADA. Conversely, a third interviewee commented that he had indeed heard of the ADA and listed seeing TDD's (telecommunications device for the deaf), ramps in public places and elevator installation in public transit stations as examples of ADA compliance. Lastly, a woman working at a local hospital was disconcerted by the fact that she had never heard of the ADA despite being employed in the health care field.
These comments seem to imply that although people may have a general awareness of the existence of laws and guidelines to protect those with disabilities, there may be a need for educational efforts regarding the ADA and where one can find information about it. There may also be a need for further evaluation regarding compliance rates. It appears that those with more exposure to disability issues are much more likely to be aware of the ADA, so it may be unclear whether those who had not noticed ADA compliance truly signify a lack thereof, or are simply oblivious to issues which do not affect them."
When it comes to the ADA and fitness centers, I can share a brief story with you that will illustrate what a little education and open-mindedness can do!
I received a phone call from a fitness facility regarding a service animal. The fitness facility asked if it had to allow a service dog into its facility. Although it is common knowledge to many of us who work in the field of disability that the facility must allow the service animal, this was not apparent to the facility's manager. I offered the appropriate information to the manager and asked if there was anything else I could do. He said there was one more part of the question that he had left off. He stated that the gentleman who wanted to become a member of the facility was concerned about his health and the health of his guide dog. He and his dog often went for long walks in the park together, but due to inclement weather, they could not always walk outdoors. The gentleman wanted to reserve the treadmill next to him for his dog so that they both could stay fit together! I suggested that the gentleman come to the facility on off-peak hours and the manager agreed to provide the assistance needed to make this possible for the member and his guide dog.
As a result of the many questions we have received regarding the ADA, I contacted the U.S. Access Board to address the current status of the Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities within the Department of Justice.
According to Peggy Greenwell, Accessibility Specialist and the staff person who coordinated the rulemaking on Recreation Facilities at the U.S. Access Board, "This truly is an exciting time to see the inclusion of accessibility standards for recreation facilities. It is the first time there have been national standards that address these very important and unique facilities." The Department of Justice is expected to announce a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the adoption of Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities under the ADA in 2007. This notice will allow the public to comment on the guidelines before they become effective for newly constructed and altered facilities. To learn more about the Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities you can go to www.access-board.gov , or view the guidelines at http://www.access-board.gov/recreation/final.htm , or contact the U.S. Access Board at (800) 872-2253 (voice)/(800) 993-2822 (TTY). Ms. Greenwell emphasized that the guidelines presented here are "minimums" and that individuals are encouraged to exceed them where possible. Additionally she commented, "We look forward to the evolution of the guidelines over time as new advances in accessible design and in technology change."
NCHPAD offers an Inclusive Fitness Training workshop that provides an overview of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for Recreation Facilities as they relate to fitness facilities, useful assessment tools, and demonstrates information on program adaptation and facility design.
For more information, contact NCHPAD at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-900-8086.