Mona Ramouni, who is blind, rides a bus to work with her guide horse in Lincoln Park, Mich. Growing up in Detroit, Ramouni could never get a dog because her devout Muslim family considered dogs unclean. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio/File)
(CNSNews.com) – Although the Justice Department has extended the deadline for America’s hotels to comply with regulations regarding handicap access to swimming pools, new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines are already being applied at miniature golf courses, driving ranges, amusement parks, shooting ranges and saunas.
Among the provisions in the “Revised ADA Standards for Accessible Design,” which went into effect on March 15, is one requiring businesses to allow miniature horses on their premises as guide animals for the disabled. Another limits the height of slopes on miniature golf holes.
“The new standards, for the first time, include requirements for judicial facilities, detention and correctional facilities, and recreational facilities,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said during a conference in Baltimore on June 7.
“We expect the implementation of these accessibility standards to open up doors for full participation in both the responsibilities, such as jury duty, and the benefits, such as playing at city parks, of civic life for people with disabilities,” he said.
“Miniature horses were suggested by some commenters as viable alternatives to dogs for individuals with allergies, or for those whose religious beliefs preclude the use of dogs,” the rules state. Also mentioned as a reason to include the animals is the longer life span of miniature horses – providing approximately 25 years of service as opposed to seven years for dogs.
“Some individuals with disabilities have traveled by train and have flown commercially with their miniature horses,” the Justice Department notes.
“Similar to dogs, miniature horses can be trained through behavioral reinforcement to be ‘housebroken,’” it adds.
However, “Ponies and full-size horses are not covered.”
A business owner can deny admission to a miniature horse that is not housebroken, whose handler does not have sufficient control of the animal, or if the horse’s presence compromises “legitimate safety requirements.”
The miniature horse addition has come under the scrutiny of at least one member of Congress, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who offered an amendment that passed the House, banning funding to implement the provision. Chaffetz penned an editorial last month in opposition to the rule entitled, “Horses in the Dining Room?”