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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 1994

CR (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888

FORT LAUDERDALE HOTEL AGREES WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO BECOME ACCESSIBLE TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Fort Lauderdale beachfront hotel and resort has agreed to remove barriers throughout its facilities and to provide accessible guestrooms under an agreement reached with the Justice Department. The agreement, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Miami, resolves a complaint filed by Brian Kastruba accusing Villas by the Sea of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The complaint alleged that guest rooms and many common areas were inaccessible and that the resort failed to make alterations in an accessible manner when it built a restaurant and outdoor bar. Kastruba, who uses a wheelchair, wanted to vacation in Florida with his girlfriend. Upon making reservations with the hotel, he and his travel agent were assured that the facility was accessible. When they arrived at the hotel, they encountered an inaccessible front desk, a step to the only entrance to the room, an inaccessible bathroom, and narrow doorways which deterred movement. The couple ended up staying elsewhere. Under the agreement the 143-room resort will: ​ correct inaccessible alterations; ​ provide access to common use areas, including the registration desk, the entrance to the registration area; parking; and laundry and vending facilities; and ​ provide three accessible guest rooms for people with mobility impairments and five for people with hearing impairments. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by public accommodations such as hotels and resorts. Under the law, entities must ensure that new construction and alterations are accessible. They also must remove architectural barriers where it is readily achievable, or where it can be done without much difficulty or expense. When making alterations or constructing new buildings, public accommodations such as hotels are required to follow the ADA standards, which may be different from local building codes. "Today's agreement reflects the Justice Department's continuing commitment to ensuring access for persons with disabilities," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "All businesses must do what is reasonably within their means to ensure access to existing facilities." If the hotel, comprised of over a dozen buildings, had been constructed after January 26, 1993, it would have been required to have up to twelve accessible rooms. However, the Justice Department determined that in this case requiring any more accessible rooms would not have been "readily achievable." # # # 95-013