Tammy Duckworth Intros Bill to Make Fitness Facilities More Accessible to People with Disabilities
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) last week introduced legislation to make fitness facilities across America more accessible for those with disabilities. The Exercise and Fitness for All Act would establish new federal guidelines to help ensure people with disabilities have the same opportunity to use fitness facilities as their non-disabled peers, and it would allow small businesses to use the Disabled Access Tax Credit to help cover the purchase of accessible exercise equipment. There are nearly 40 million Americans with a disability and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults living with a disability experience far higher rates of obesity and chronic disease. Under current rules issued by the DOJ, fitness facilities are required to meet accessible design standards, such as providing sufficient space next to each type of exercise equipment so that a person in a wheelchair can use it. However, many fitness facilities do not currently meet these standards. The Exercise and Fitness for All Act would help many facilities upgrade their facilities to comply with the law, and it would require the U.S. Access Board -- a federal agency that promotes accessibility -- to issue guidelines specifying the number and types of accessible equipment at the facility. “No one should be the denied the ability to lead a healthy lifestyle because they have a disability, but many exercise gyms and fitness facilities across our country are not accessible for people with disabilities and do not comply with federal rules,” Duckworth said. “I know how frustrating this problem is. This legislation will help lower the barriers that prevent many Americans from accessing gyms across our country.” Duckworth, the first member of Congress born in Thailand, served as an Army helicopter pilot in the Iraq War and suffered severe combat wounds, which caused her to lose both of her legs and some mobility in her right arm. She was the first female double amputee from the war. More here.