COLORADO SPRINGS — A dispute between a Colorado Springs mother and a local business is sparking conversations about ADA housing.
Last Wednesday, Jessica Lee had contacted Soccer Haus in Colorado Springs to register her three daughters for the Spring Break camp.
“Candor and my other two daughters love sports so we were looking for something for them to do. I was checking things out and saw that Soccer Haus was offering a camp so I called them. It was Wednesday so three business days before spring break,” Lee said.
Lee told the facility that her youngest daughter was deaf and that they would have to provide an interpreter during the week-long camp.
“On Friday, the CEO called me and said that we had tried to recruit a high school student who already knew a little sign language. I was surprised by this and asked why they would do this. J I said it wouldn’t be reasonable accommodation, reasonable accommodation would be a certified interpreter,” Lee said.
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 yes, well, it’s for a certified interpreter, but I can provide more information on the federal government small business tax credit because I am a small business owner myself and am using this tax credit I would be more than happy to hear from you explaining it, the paperwork and the forms to fill in. He immediately said no,” Lee said.
Lee tried to explain to the establishment the importance of having an interpreter.
“If an emergency were to arise, what would they do? Someone should explain to Candor where to go. I asked what they would do during a game or practice. Also for the social aspect with his teammates,” said said Lee.
Spring Break Camp at Soccer Haus takes place Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for ages 5 to 13.
“We received an email on Wednesday afternoon registering three children, but due to the structure of our business, we do not check emails until the next morning. We saw his email on Thursday morning and in the comments section she mentioned that she needed an interpreter because she has a hearing impaired child. Thursday was a snowy day and a ton of schools were canceled. We know that high schools in District 20 have a sign language class, but a lot of them were closed,” said Anita McCurdy, Soccer House. “We asked mum if the siblings could sign on as an interpreter for the kid and she said no. She would prefer them to be 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 classes start Monday morning.”
The facility says they reached out to the agency Lee recommended, but it wouldn’t have been ideal for their workflow.
“This interpreter was charging a price that we couldn’t afford. More than that, they told us they couldn’t give someone all day. They could give us someone two hours at a time, so every two hours we had to change interpreters, for example our camp starts at 9am, usually the kids arrive at 8am so if we had an interpreter at 8am one would do the 8 to 10 , a new one would do 10-12, a new one would do 12-2, then a new one would end the day. We would stop camp for all the other kids to update that performer on the next camp session,” McCurdy said. .
McCurdy says if they had had more time to plan, maybe they could have made the accommodation.
“Last year we had several children with disabilities. Whether it was physical or behavioral disabilities and with the time that the parents gave us, we were able to adapt to autism, diets, learning disabilities and behavioral issues. We would love to take in kids but we just didn’t have the time during the time she gave us,” McCurdy said.
The Rocky Mountain ADA Center could not comment on this specific case, but clarified the ADA requirements.
“As long as you meet the definition of a public lodging place, you should provide effective communication to your customers with disabilities,” said Emily Shuman of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center.
There are exceptions to the rule, Shuman says, if a company receives a request that would cause hardship or change the way it operates, it may not be required to comply with the request.
“They would always have a responsibility to try to provide an effective type of communication,” Shuman said.
The facility says they have also tried to find an interpreter through Facebook without success, but they would like to try to accommodate her children for summer camp.
“We just want the community to know that we would like to welcome children with disabilities, but we need more than 48 hours to do so,” McCurdy said.
“I would like anyone who 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,” Lee said.
The Rocky Mountain ADA Center encourages the community to contact them with any questions regarding ADA guidelines.