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AUG 15 1997

The Honorable Philip M. Crane
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
300 North Milwaukee Avenue
Suite C
Lake Villa, Illinois 60046

Dear Congressman Crane:

I am responding to your letter on behalf of your
constituent, XXX , regarding the application of the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to the changes in
rules for a fencing tournament that XXX has participated
in with the Society for Creative Anachronism (Society). Please
excuse our delay in responding.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis
of disability by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or
operates a place of public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. S 12182 (a).
The term "operate" includes sponsorship of competitions and
tournaments. A "place of public accommodation" includes places
of public gathering (e.g., auditoriums, convention centers,
lecture halls), places of recreation (e.g., parks, zoos,
amusement parks), and places of exercise (e.g., gymnasiums).
Thus, if the fencing tournament is held in a place of public
accommodation then the Society, as a sponsor, organizer, and
administrator of the fencing tournament, may be covered by title
III of the ADA.

Title III requires, among other things, that covered
entities make reasonable modifications to their policies,
practices, and procedures when necessary to ensure that
individuals with disabilities have equal access to goods,
services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.
However, title III does not require a covered entity to make any
modification that would fundamentally alter the nature of the
goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or
accommodations offered.

cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, McDowney, Hahm, FOIA
jhahm\myfiles\policyltrs\f-crane72497.wpd\sc. YOUNG-PARRN

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I have enclosed a copy of the regulation implementing title
III of the ADA for your reference. I hope this information is
helpful to you in responding to your constituent.

Sincerely,

Isabelle Katz Pinzler
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

Enclosure

XXX
Wauconda, IL XXX
May 1, 1997

Mr. John Wodatch
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035

Sir:

Pursuant to a phone conversation with your office on April 29, 1997, by my friend,
XXX I am writing to you to request a "statement of policy" on the following
issue. An organization that I belong to, called the Society for Creative Anachronism,
currently has in place a competition style of fencing known as rapier combat. As
the rules now stand, it is possible for the handicapped to compete on an equal to
near-equal footing due to the availability of adaptive equipment for the handicapped
fencer.

On June 1, 1997, my district intends to change its rules and equipment standards.
The practice schlager blade they are substituting for the currently used epee blade
has no adaptive equipment available. Also, by its very weight, this practice schlager
is impossible for many of the handicapped to use. In short, my district is removing
an accommodation which is currently in place without any suitable replacement. As
we pay for our own equipment, it does not cause our club any undue financial
burden to keep the old system.

A brief aside, the club officers claim this change is being made in the interests of
safety.' Every fencing professional I've spoken to has stated that the epee is a much
safer piece of equipment.
Mr. Wodatch, I am handicapped and if this change goes through, I will no longer be
able to even consider competing because I will not be able to lift and hold the blade
up. Many of my friends, who have such common ailments as Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome, will no longer be able to compete due to the increased weight of the
blade. Others, who have arthritis or weakening of the tendons will not be able to
hold the blade due to the lack of availability of adaptive equipment.

The district has refused to reconsider this matter without an authoritative opinion,
such as from your office. They have also requested that such an opinion be in
writing. Sir, you are our last hope in this matter. We do not want to go to court and
have some long, lengthy fight to have our rights restored. They should not be taken
away in the first place. A simple letter from you will go a long way towards
stopping it.

Hoping to hear from you soon,

XXX