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Coalition of Disability Rights Organizations Launch National Boycott
and Awareness Campaign Targeting Top Hotels

 
Boycott Focuses on Hotels Represented by Exec. Officers of Leading Industry Assoc.'s for
'Intensive' Lobby Effort to Stop Enforcement of Pool Reg.'s  in the American’s w/ Disabilities Act (ADA)


WASHINGTON, DC – July 2012 - As America prepares to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a coalition of the largest disability rights groups in the country – representing over 54 million Americans – today announced a robust, national boycott and public awareness campaign this morning on a conference call with reporters.  The two-part campaign calls for both a boycott of the hotels represented by the executive officers of the industry’s two, leading lobbying associations – responsible for a self-described “intensive campaign” to stop enforcement of the ADA’s pool regulations – as well as a community-wide grassroots mobilization and public awareness campaign, until the industry publicly ceases all efforts to chip-away at “equal access” protections embodied in the ADA. 

A coalition of disability rights groups – including the American Association of People with Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, ADAPT, National Council on Independent Living, and over 50 local and state disability rights groups and service providers – are leading the campaign’s efforts.  The boycott and public awareness campaign, the largest and most significant action by the disability rights community in recent history, was featured in an exclusive story in USA Today, the newspaper of choice for America’s hotels: http://travel.usatoday.com/hotels/post/2012/07/us-disability-rights-groups-call-for-hotel-boycott/805883/1.

The hotels and hotel chains represented on the board of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) will be the target of the first phase of the campaign, launched today. More widespread hotel boycotts will be launched beginning on July 26, which is the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act – a signature civil rights bill.

Hotels and hotel chains represented on the board of AH&LA and AAHOA include Kimpton and Radisson, as well as many other national hotel chains and several smaller, independent hotels. Next week, the boycott will escalate to a much broader range of hotels and hotel chains, which will be accompanied by an online public awareness campaign about the role of the hotel industry in blocking equal access for Americans with disabilities and a grassroots organizing effort to document online and draw attention offline to hotels across the country that are not in compliance with ADA regulations.

“Americans with disabilities are fighting each day to hold on to the very services that keep us in our homes and living independently, which is why this latest move by AH&LA and AAHOA is so disappointing,” said Kelly Buckland, executive director of the National Council on Independent Living. “We didn't think when the ADA was passed back in 1990 that we would have to protect it each day of our lives – but it's clear that these lobbying groups are intent on placing profits above people, so fight we will.”

“If these hotel industry lobbyists think they can get away with removing civil rights in backrooms of Washington, they're wrong,” said Bruce Darling, organizer with ADAPT. “Americans with disabilities, and their allies, live and travel all over this country and will make this a huge issue as we move through the summer. We fought hard for the ADA, and there's no way in hell that we'll let it be taken away from us without a very public fight.”

“These industry groups are fighting tooth and nail to prevent Americans with disabilities from gaining access to their pools," said Mark Perriello, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). “Twenty-two years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it's disappointing to see the so-called 'hospitality industry' fight so hard to prevent its implementation. Now the disability community is fighting back.”

The hotels and hotel chains targeted in this boycott were selected because the executive officers within these two lobbying groups are the ones who have the power to stop AH&LA and AAHOA from continuing their harmful efforts to whittle down the Americans with Disabilities Act and to treat Americans with disabilities unfairly.

“It is fundamentally unfair to expect people with disabilities to pay for an amenity that they cannot access,” said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, the nation's largest provider of legal services to people with disabilities. “Hotel owners and operators across the country should be ashamed of the groups representing their interests in Washington at the expense of paying customers across the country.”

“I am the Chair of a meeting that takes place three times a year and brings some of the top disability rights leaders in the United States together for a two-day meeting,” said Colleen Kelly Starkloff, co-director of the Starkloff Disability Institute. “The issue of compliance with the ADA regarding lifts on pools in hotels and motels has become an important issue in the disability community and has now become an important consideration in my choice of where this group will meet. When I relayed my desire to find a hotel with a permanent pool lift for people with disabilities, one hotel in St. Louis responded quickly that they are planning on installing one by the compliance date of January, 2013. They want our business! This is good for business.”

According to a Harris Poll conducted in conjunction with Open Doors Organization and the Travel Industry of America, "the 50 million people with disabilities in our country have a combined income of more than $1.75 billion. In 2002, this community took 32 million trips and spent more than $13.6 billion on travel ($4.2 billion on hotels, $3.3 billion on airfare, $2.7 billion on food and beverage, and $3.4 billion on retail, transportation, and other activities)." In fact, the study suggests that, "these travelers would double their spending if some minor amenities were made available. Meet and greet programs at airports, preferred seating on airplanes, hotel rooms closer to amenities, and employees who go out of their way to accommodate guests with disabilities topped the list.”

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is the nation's largest disability rights organization. AAPD promote equals opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. AAPD’s members, including people with disabilities and our family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. See more online at www.aapd.com.

ADAPT is a national grassroots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. See more online at www.adapt.org.

The National Disability Rights Network is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP). Collectively, the P&A/CAP network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States. See more online at www.ndrn.org.

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals including: Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), individuals with disabilities, and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States. See more online at www.ncil.org.
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Contact:

 Brad Luna
Luna Media Group
brad@lunamediagroup.com
202-812-8140(cell)


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