Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Access Disputes on Vacation, Part I

On our recent camping trip, I experienced more access disputes with Isaac than I had experienced in the entire time I'd had him up 'til then.  And that is not an exaggeration. 

We were camping at a national park.  I would have thought they see plenty of visitors with disabilities.  Most of the facilities were pretty accessible and they certainly get a lot of traffic.  And they are government employees.  They should comply with federal laws, right?

Well.  The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't apply to the National Park Service but section 504 of the Rehab Act does and it says pretty much the same thing.  And the National Park Service has issues a statement saying they have aligned their policies regarding service dogs with the ADA.  But apparently their employees have not all gotten the message.

One day we ate lunch in the hotel that is in the park.  Now, the hotel is not actually operated by the NPS, it's a concession, and therefore the ADA does apply.  Note that I was not able to determine this until after I'd returned home and made multiple phone calls and found someone in charge of something who could tell me this.

But anyway.  The hostess told me that dogs were not allowed in the restaurant.  I told her that he was a service dog so he was allowed.  She said not in the restaurant because they serve food.  I told her that the ADA says he is allowed.  She kept saying she didn't think so.  Another employee went ahead and seated us. 

After I'd ordered, I got on my phone and looked up the ADA Business Brief and then went back to the hostess to show her the law.  She didn't want to look at it and told me she'd asked another employee who had told her service dogs are allowed.  I asked her if her employer had not provided training on the ADA and she said she'd been told service dogs were allowed in the hotel but not in the restaurant.

And that was only the first access dispute of the three I experienced that day.

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