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Spring Break camp dispute sparks conversations over ADA accommodations

Posted at 8:51 PM, Mar 22, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — A dispute between a Colorado Springs mother and local business is sparking conversations over ADA accommodations.

Jessica Lee had reached out to Soccer Haus in Colorado Springs last Wednesday to sign her three daughters up for Spring Break camp.

"Candor and my two other daughters love sports so we were looking for something for them to do. I was checking things out and I saw Soccer Haus was offering a camp so I gave them a call. This was Wednesday so three business days prior to Spring Break," said Lee.

Lee told the facility her youngest daughter was deaf, and they would need to provide an interpreter during the week long camp.

"On Friday, the CEO called me and said we tried to recruit a high school student who already knows some sign language. I was taken aback by that, and asked why they would do that. I said that would not be a reasonable accommodation, a reasonable accommodation would be a certified interpreter," said Lee.

She gave the facility a recommendation for a certified interpreter.

"He said well I got a quote from your agency, and can you believe it's over a thousand dollars. I said yeah well that's for a certified interpreter however I can provide more information about the federal government tax credit for small businesses because I myself am a small business owner and I use that tax credit. I would be more than happy to explain it to you, the paperwork and the forms to fill out. He immediately said no," said Lee.

Lee tried to explain to the facility the importance of having an interpreter.

"If an emergency were to occur, what would they do? Someone would have to explain to Candor where to go. I asked what they would do during a game or a drill. Also for the social aspect with her teammates," said Lee

The Spring Break Camp at Soccer Haus is Monday-Friday between 9 a.m- 3 p.m. for ages 5-13.

"We got an email on Wednesday afternoon registering three kids, but because of the structure of our business, we don't check emails until the next morning. We saw her email Thursday morning and in the comment section she mentioned she needed an interpreter because she had a child with a hearing disability. Thursday was a snow day and a ton of schools were canceled. We know that high schools in District 20 have a sign language class so called but many of them were closed," said Anita McCurdy, Soccer Haus. "We asked mom if the siblings could sign as an interpreter for the kiddo and she said no. She would prefer they were in their own class so we asked if we could use a phone as an interpreter and again she said no. She wanted us to use an interpreter so at this point it's Friday afternoon we don't have one and class starts Monday morning."

The facility says they did reach out to the agency Lee recommended, but it wouldn't have been ideal for their workflow.

"That interpreter was charging a price that we could not accommodate. More than that, they told us they couldn't give someone all day long. They could give us someone two hours at a time so every two hours we would need to switch interpreters. For instance, our camp starts at 9 a.m., typically kids come in at 8 a.m., so if we had an interpreter at 8 then one would do the 8 to 10, a new one would do 10 to 12, a new one would do 12 to 2, and then a new would finish out the day. We would be stopping camp for all of the other kids to bring that interpreter up to speed on the next session of camp," said McCurdy.

McCurdy says if they had more time to plan, they may have been able to make the accommodation.

"Last year, we had several kids with disabilities. Whether it was physical or behavioral disabilities and with the time the parents gave us, we were able to accommodate for autism, diets, learning disabilities abilities and behavioral issues. We would love to accommodate kids but we just didn't have time time in the period that she gave us," said McCurdy.

The Rocky Mountain ADA Center couldn't speak on this case in particular, but clarified ADA requirements.

"As long as you meet the definition of a place of public accommodation then you do have to provide effective communication your patrons with disabilities," said Emily Shuman, The Rocky Mountain ADA Center.

There are exemptions to the rule, Shuman says if a business gets a request that would cause undo hardship or change the way they operate then they may not be required to comply with the request.

"They would still have a responsibility to try and provide some type of effective communication," said Shuman.

The facility says they also tried to find an interpreter through Facebook with no luck but they would like to try and accommodate her kids for summer camp.

"We just want the community to know that we would love to take in kids with disabilities but we need more than 48 hours to do so," said McCurdy.

"I would love for any person that owns a public camp, class or any type of service for children to understand their responsibilities and that there are opportunities to serve all children," said Lee.

The Rocky Mountain ADA Center encourages the community to reach out to them with any questions about ADA guidelines.