NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Disability Regulations

July 3, 2012

Although the Justice Department has extended the deadline for America's hotels to comply with regulations regarding handicap access to swimming pools, new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines are already being applied at miniature golf courses, driving ranges, amusement parks, shooting ranges and saunas, says CNS News.

Many of these commercial establishments must simply make slight alterations or business decisions that will allow those in wheelchairs full use of their facility. This may mean wheelchair-accessible benches in saunas or disability-friendly machines in gyms. However, two of the newest regulations on behalf of the ADA are receiving increasing levels of attention.

The first is the incredible amount of regulation that is being thrown at golf establishments, which will find their course-constructing creativity severely hampered.

  • The standards now require that at least 50 percent of golf holes on miniature golf courses be "accessible" -- with a ground space that is "48 inches minimum by 60 inches minimum with slopes not steeper than 1:48 at the start of play."
  • Full golf courses, furthermore, must maintain "an accessible route to connect all accessible elements within the boundary."
  • Additionally, that accessible route must also "connect golf car rental areas, bag drop areas, teeing grounds, putting greens and weather shelters."

Stranger than these strict rules for mini golf, however, are the new provisions for miniature service ponies, which are being increasingly employed by members of the disabled community.

  • According to the new ruling, miniature horses "were suggested by some commenters as viable alternatives to dogs for individuals with allergies, or for those whose religious beliefs preclude the use of dogs."
  • A business owner can deny admission to a miniature horse that is not housebroken, whose handler does not have sufficient control of the animal, or if the horse's presence compromises "legitimate safety requirements."
  • All public accommodations will be required to accommodate service ponies.

Source: Elizabeth Harrington, "New Disability Regs Limit Slope of Mini Golf Holes, Require Businesses to Admit Mini Horses as Guide Animals," CNS News, June 26, 2012.

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