• What to look for with ADA compliance
• Communicate with guests and waterparks
Chances are pretty darn good that at some point you’re going to organize a group event at some type of attraction and then disability questions will be addressed specifically to you and, well, at that point you’d best be prepared. Consider this your starter kit of what to know before you get involved.
- Your first step will be to review the venue’s disability guidelines which should be posted on their website. This information will give you some idea as to how accessible they are as well as what types of challenges your disabled guests might encounter.
- Note: If details are not readily available, it does not mean the waterpark is not accessable for disabled guests. Any newly constructed waterpark resorts, or those recently renovated, should be fully ADA-compliant. Even those that haven’t undergone renovations should have taken the necessary steps to ensure their properties are ADA-compliant.
- Once you’ve identified specific disabilities you will be dealing with from your group, make sure to work with Guest Services/Relations to coordinate the visit. In some cases such as for sign language interpreters, this need must be requested ahead of time, usually at least 48 hours or more in advance of arrival.
- Many waterpark resorts now print guest assistance guides you can access prior to your visit and/or upon entry. These will further clarify some important issues like disabled parking policies, availability of wheelchair accessible bathrooms, showers, and changing facilities, ramp locations, zero-step areas within the venue, sites with pool lifts, and very specific ride guidelines. This could also be helpful information to distribute to your group ahead of guest arrival.
- Pay close attention to instructions and information pertaining to those requesting attendance with service animals, which according to the technical portions of ADA guidelines, are still defined as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” But this is an area that can get really cloudy. Especially in light of people attempting to bring in all sorts of animals under the claim of ‘emotional support, stress control’ and a variety of other questionable practices. And while most waterpark resorts allow the presence of bonafide service dogs, these animals are rarely if ever allowed in any pool/water areas due to hygiene issues.
In summary, the ADA was one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of anti-discrimination legislation signed into effect since the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Think of the ADA as an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities, and then try to visualize special needs attendees at your events and activities in order to provide for the best possible experience for all attendees.