Sunday, January 05, 2014

IAAPA - What is it?

In all this Disney talk, you know what would really be of benefit - a standard set forth by their association that brings common accommodation standards to all American theme parks.  One that preserves access for those with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities in people of all ages and meets their needs while having some level of fairness for those able bodied people who have to wait in line.

I think the move from GAC to DAS has been a step in that direction.  However, it was poorly vetted by Disney with stakeholders and disastrously rolled out.  As a point of law, there are reportedly obstacles in access for the disabled (the kiosks in California) that undermine compliance with ADA.  There is no indication that Disney is interested in incorporating feedback from visitors or engaging with advocacy groups like the ARC, the MS Society, or others that represent and have knowledge of the collective needs of their constituents.  In order to avoid lengthy conflict and possible litigation, they need to regroup and reevaluate what is working and what isn't.  

I get a little suspicious of DC based associations - I truly believe their first function is to lobby for the corporate interest.  That said, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions would be a fine organization to begin the dialog with and to get companies like Disney, SeaWorld, Six Flags, and Cedar Point to evaluate their existing programs and move to one common standard that would incorporate things like virtual queuing and educating groups to the law and the need for staff training while providing an opportunity for feedback from advocacy groups, physicians and therapeutic providers, and other stakeholders.  

I also think these advocacy groups, providers, and others who are knowledgeable or interesting in seeing how DAS is working at Disney should be shadowing families in the parks to see what is going on and how things can be improved for all.



Anonymous said...

I do believe this is a bigger problem than Disney and thatt the problem needs to be addressed on a bigger scale and IAAPA might be just one place to start. I don't know how much of a difference it would make for an advocate to shadow at the park but perhaps a therapist, or someone in the medical field, and/or an attorney the specializes in ADA Laws. As you mentioned Disney is not the only one with this type of system, they are just the ones who had superior guest services for those with disabilities and our families have fallen in love with Disney, the movies, characters, and attractions which makes it difficult for our families to just let it go as many of us have done with other theme parks. It is going to take a lot to get these theme parks to change but it is neccessary and If we stand strong and united I believe these changes can and will be made, not just at Disney but ALL theme parks!

Rachel said...

My take in having the shadow is that too often we get dismissed as hysterical parents. I think third party shadowing - seeing what parents are describing - could potentially lend legitimacy in feedback to Disney. It's why I think the DOJ will ultimately need to be involved - as part of the Virginia case that I was somewhat involved in, the concerns of parents were dismissed until third parties and the DOJ became involved. They were larger issues like housing and over institutionalization, but again, families were dismissed until third party oversight and advocacy came in.

I won't say with absolute certainly that DOJ would get involved, but I see where the red flags are there regarding ADA. And it has nothing to do with the virtual queuing. It has to do with having disabled people traipses all over the park to kiosks, which is essentially an obstacle to access, and the questioning going on at guest services, including denial of reasonable accommodation to some. The "HIPAA" nonsense (we can't look at your doctor's letter - HIPAA!!!!) and the rudeness of staff are secondary issues that are not germane to an ADA argument, but do need to be addressed as well.

I also think there needs to be some better outreach by Disney to these large disability groups once they address the many issues they have had with implementation and a thorough examination of the legal issues. Once they do that, I think they should be given a chance to talk to these disability groups, listened to by the communities, and be heard. That requires a level of service, passion, and hard work that I am just not seeing Mickey Inc. doing, but that, in my opinion is what they should be doing.