Disney Changes Disability Accommodation Policies
I was recently invited to be a guest speaker for a segment on the web show, Spectrum at Law, hosted on The Autism Channel through Roku. As an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) advisor on the panel, I discussed the recent changes made by Walt Disney World with regard to their policies pertaining to guests with disabilities.
In an interview with Jeff Kasky, we discussed the recent discovery made by a New York writer that adult persons with disabilities were renting themselves out to wealthy New Yorkers who were visiting Disney World. Having a person with a disability as part of their group would then allow them to cut in front of lines at the rides. Disney confirmed this practice by searching for these individuals on the Internet. The search revealed numerous ads for this service on various websites.
In response to the outrage over this practice, Disney changed their policy. The problem is the change in the policy is a "one size fits all" mistake that will probably lead to additional ADA litigation. The new policy is essentially a "fast pass" given to the person with the disability that allows them to come back to attractions at a later time, allowing them to gain access to the ride with minimal waiting time.
This policy can be fine for persons with mobility-related disabilities, but what about children with autism or some other similar disability that affects their ability to handle all of the sites, sounds, activities and crowds that are customarily at these parks? Often times such children are fine for a few hours. However, extended exposure to these elements can contribute to stimulus “overload,” resulting in children acting out and/or becoming uncontrollable.
Requiring kids and their parents to wait for hours until gaining access to a ride simply doesn't work for these families. The problem that Disney World has created under this new policy is that they don't have provisions addressing various disabilities; they think that one policy covers the entire spectrum. Big mistake, Mickey Mouse!
The ADA requires accommodating disabilities depending upon the nature of the disability, not creating a policy for one segment of the disabled community that doesn't work for the others. Disney World needs to readdress this change in ADA policy and create policies that address all situations. Given the cache of lawyers they have, that shouldn't be difficult.
For a preview of my interview with Jeff Kasky, click here.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by teerapun