The United States Justice Department Civil Rights division has rejected my Jan. 2011 request for their intervention on an accessibility issue baring my use of the fitness facility at the Newport Coast YCMA of Orange County – due to excessively loud music and screaming out of their Zumba classroom. YMCA management first refused to make an accommodation or modification to their practices after my written request. This occurred even after I had done volunteer music therapy work for the YMCA, and after other affected senior members had donated money to the YMCA of Orange County.
My complaint was filed in January 2011, and it took the agency took two years to respond with a “no.” The complaint was filed with the “Disability Rights” division, who has accessibility jurisdiction over public and private facilities for reasonable accommodations from unhealthful levels of sound. In addition, I asked the agency to weigh in on language that could be applicable to venues across the U.S. where loud music or machinery is known to prevent persons with brain injury and neurological disorders involving sensory processing disorder, and from having access to these venues. Mostly what this YMCA needed to do was keep the door of this classroom closed. But management decided it more important to leave it open, blaring the noise throughout the rest of the facility.
A large segment of the U.S. population suffers from one of many such conditions, including, autism, post TBI, PTSD, ADHD, hydrocephalus, post tumor, post stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, migraine disorder, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and more, where individuals can be very sensitive to loud/erratic sound, from music and from machinery. These Americans account for an estimated 20-25 percent of the total U.S. population. The incident sound exposure is also often at unhealthful levels to the general population per accepted decibel charts, and then these levels make the affected persons very ill, which thus bars their use and ACCESSIBILITY of said public and private facilities. Incident facilities would include health clubs, restaurants, night clubs, churches, schools, malls, art & music venues and events, fairs, parks, and the like.
Two years ago, Congress approved the CALM Act intended to moderate volume manipulations of TV commercials. But nothing has been implemented thus far. The science in support of sensory processing disorder and the affected neurological disorders is well documented today.
What must occur for there to be progress in sound protections and accessibility at subject venues, is for government to weight in on the current decibel scale, and revise it with lower threshold levels for persons with the affected disorders and sensitivity. There may need to be widespread discussion on the levels, and the resulting NEW decibel scale should include a NEW ”sound processing value,” which can account for types of sound patterns and tones that are difficult to process. Examples of difficult sounds are machinery with fast unbroken patterns, TV & radio commercials where a person is talking fast or screaming with music playing at full volume, and music with people screaming and yelling.
We know the science. We simply need to connect it to everyday living, and have the respective accommodations, technology, and attentiveness be applied. In 2002, I undertook a study on sensory processing. It has since been updated and is available at the following link: http://www.dollecommunications.com/NeuroCompensStudy.htm If for some reason the link becomes broken, you can find it on my site http://www.dollecommunications.com