Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ohio couple advocates for new law that makes hotels more accessible

Jim and Shiela Moore

The Repository in Canton, Ohio, reports that Columbus, Ohio, resident Sheila Moore, who has multiple sclerosis, and her husband, Jim, successfully lobbied for a new law in Ohio, Senate Bill 237, that will make hotels in that state more accessible.

Moore, 67, has had multiple sclerosis since 1980 and has used a wheelchair since 1983. The couple has had trouble with hotel and motel rooms where the bed is on a solid base. A portable lift they use to get Sheila in and out of bed needs space underneath to get close enough to be useful.

They're OK as long as they're staying in a Red Roof Inn, which has the appropriate kind of bed frame. Otherwise, they spend time calling to find another motel they can use and hoping a room is still available when they arrive, said Jim Moore, 68.

Enter state Rep. John Hagan, R-Marlboro Township.

"He asked me one day last fall if there was anything he could do to help us," said Jim Moore, who has known Hagan for years.

Moore is retired after 29 years with the Alliance City Water Department. Hagan owns a local heating, plumbing and air conditioning business.

Hagan introduced House Bill 300, which requires hotels to have at least one bed to accommodate lifts within 45 days of the new law's effect (Sept. 11, 2008). Within five years, 25 percent of a hotel's disability rooms must accommodate lifts. If hotels remodel before the five-year deadline, the 25 percent standard applies.

"It's a start," Jim Moore said. "I'm sure we're not the only ones who run into this. (Hagan) saw the greater good."

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 does not have the same requirement.

Opponents to Ohio's new law didn't want a precedent other states would follow, Hagan said. But the Moores rarely have problems in other states even though California is the only other state with a similar requirement.