Sunday, September 16, 2012

ADA Pool Access Law 2012 Controversy

lift (Photo credit: emmma peel)

In 2010, the United States Department of Justice released the final regulations concerning the addition of pool lifts in public swimming areas. While the original law was to be fully implemented by March of this year (2012), a new deadline has been levied that extends the requirements to January 31st, 2013. The announcement of this extension has re-ignited the debates that initially swarmed while the legislation was being proposed and amended. 
The law itself states that public swimming facilities must be equipped with ways to allow disabled individuals to enjoy the same usage as others. The purported way to achieve this utilitarian standard is through installing technology outside of the pool for usage. Because of this, the act is considered an extension of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. What specifically constituted a "pool lift" was left vague enough to prevent a single company or conglomerate from creating a monopoly. There was plenty of specificity in regards to what constituted a public swimming facility, however. Such things include, but aren't limited to, hot tubs, hotel pools, and walking pools. 
It is important to note that, according to the fine print, there is no mandate that every single pool be equipped with a device. That would be like saying that every building could no longer have stairs, but must use ramps instead. The legislation purports equality in opportunity. Meaning that if there are multiple pools and aquatics programs, those with disabilities must be able to enjoy the same programs and usage of aquatic facilities. I.e, if they have two pools, as long as they are both fundamentally congruent, only one of the pools have to be equipped with the technology. 

There are those who openly embrace and laud the law. To them, this action is another step forward in achieving de facto equality in America. Why is it fair, their argument goes, to deny and deprive certain Americans of opportunities simply because they can't gain access to the pool? Especially if, once in the water, they would be able to take advantage of the opportunity? For them, it is an issue of fundamental fairness and the implementation of the law represents a step in the right direction.
There are those, however, who disagree with the law. Although many do indeed sympathize with those who can't use the pool because they can't gain access to it, the issue boils down to economics. The mandate for the inclusion of the technology doesn't just apply to new construction; older pools must also have this technology in place. As of now, it is up to the proprietor to foot the bill for the expansion. Indeed, once one realizes that each device can run up to several thousand dollars, the economic arguments are, in some aspect, merited.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Thing About Lead

metal detecting for lead pipes DSCN9450
metal detecting for lead pipes DSCN9450 (Photo credit: DrJohnBullas)

It seems one of the things that is always with us is lead.  Heavy, dull, dark, like that blind date your former friend fixed you up with last month, lead is always around and hard to get rid of.  In the seventies lead paint was finally recognized as the health hazard it was and children were tested for lead poisoning.  It was mostly the ones who ate paint chips that were at risk.  I know what some of you cruel and heartless types are thinking. “If they are dumb enough to eat paint chips maybe it is just nature’s way of thinning out the weak minded and a good case for natural selection.”  Sheesh you are probably the same people who say things like, “Then let them die and decrease the surplus population.”  Enough of that and let’s get back to the point, lead.

You would think that after all these years everyone would have gotten the idea that lead is not real great stuff to put in paint, particularly paint that is going to be used on toys, handled by children.  Enter the Chinese.  Perhaps in China, a country with a serious overpopulation problem, lead painted toys are seen as social engineering and heartily endorsed, but maybe they should have run the idea by the American consumers before they sent us toys painted with toxic paint for our children.  Now let’s be honest, anyone who has ever been on a long flight with a crying baby in the next seat, or tried to have a meal in a restaurant with a bratty kid at the next table, has probably been tempted to give the little nippers a lead painted toy, but we really wouldn’t do it, it’s just a fleeting thought.  For every person who thought of buying a lead paint tainted toy for a particularly obnoxious child there are millions who are appalled by the idea of toxic toys. 

The same can probably be said of the millions who were appalled when it was discovered that certain Firestone tires were exploding and causing terrible accidents.  Oh sure, there were a few people at the time who had been contemplating divorce who saw the idea of putting Firestone tires on their spouse’s car as a cheap alternative to divorce, but they were a very small minority.  The point is, we consumers do not want dangerous things, like lead, in our products.

This brings me to another point, and that is that sometimes something like lead can be a bad thing in one place and a good thing somewhere else.  For instance, lead in a pencil is a good thing, although it is actually graphite.  When I was a teenager I used to eat at a little diner in Rhode Island.  The waitress, very kindly and motherly, would always make sure I had a large helping of the special and on more than one occasion told me it would put lead in my pencil.  Apparently she realized that at that stage in my life I had decided to become a writer, although the twinkle in her eye seemed to indicate she was interested in more than my writing career.

So sometimes lead is good and sometimes it is bad.  If you are worried about lead paint and other toxic substances in your products, rather than asking your favorite waitress for advice, perhaps you should visit a site like Safe Toys Info  Where you will find information about safe toys and other consumer products too numerous to mention here.

In the meantime, may your children always be safe and may your pencil always be full.

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