HOUSTON - The Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting a "compliance review" of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
According to a spokesperson from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, they’re "evaluating accessibility for disabled individuals planning to attend the event."
"The investigation stems from complaints the HLSR violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)," said a spokesperson from the DOJ. "The allegations include failing to provide accessible parking, accessible seating and accessible routes. The review will be conducted under Title III of the ADA which prohibits private places of public accommodation to discriminate against individuals with disabilities."
"I have to come here in crutches," said one Rodeo visitor Wednesday. "People were assisting and everything else. I’ve never had any problems."
At the Houston Rodeo on Wednesday, we met with several people with disabilities about the investigation. Some people believe there’s an ADA issue, others not so much.
"I only have issues in crowds," said Diane. "[People] don’t pay any attention to someone walking with a cane. It’s just crowds."
"I’m perfectly happy, otherwise I wouldn’t go," said Roger. "The NRG Center has elevators. We can go to any floor."
The U.S. Attorney’s Office plans to investigate the alleged violations over a three-day period during the week of March 7.
"During that timeframe, we will also conduct a compliance review of the Ranch Saloon and Steakhouse, the first full service restaurant at the HLSR," said a DOJ spokesperson. "Representatives from the US Attorney’s Office and the Ranch Saloon and Steakhouse will be present. The results of the compliance review will dictate the length of time needed to resolve each of the issues."
"As we come into an age where diversity and inclusivity are hot topics, it really needs to be looked at and addressed," said Alma Fuz.
Fuz is a cancer survivor and amputee. According to Fuz, she’s been to the Houston Rodeo several times.
"We just want to be included, and have fun like everybody else," said Fuz. "I go back to lines and just access. The ability to give a disabled individual the time and space to get on and enjoy a ride.’
"The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a family-friendly event, and we are committed to providing an open and accessible event for everyone," said a spokesperson from the Houston Rodeo. "We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Justice and have expressed our willingness to cooperate. We are not aware of any specific ADA complaints, and are committed to meeting or exceeding ADA requirements. However, if any issues arise, the Rodeo will work with NRG Park to make any adjustments needed. In addition to ADA requirements, the Rodeo has many additional opportunities for our guests, including a Sensory Friendly Day on Friday, March 4, competitions and activities for special needs individuals, and services for the visually and hearing impaired."