Swimming Pool Accessibility Rules Postponed
The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) postponed the implementation of rules on disabled access to commercial swimming pools under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The DOJ announced that existing facilities do not have to be equipped with handicapped-accessible entry until Jan. 31, 2013. This is the third extension of the compliance deadline.
The DOJ took hotels, community pools, water parks, and health clubs by surprise early this year when it issued a technical guidance that required fixed, built-in pool lifts for the disabled at existing pools.
Previously, the understanding was that fixed pool lifts would only be required at newly constructed pools. The fixed pool lift requirement raised concerns over safety (children diving off the lifts), costs and ability to comply within the timeframe provided.
Fixed lifts often require extensive construction and electrical work. Concern was also expressed over whether an adequate supply of pool lifts was available. A groundswell of complaints flooded in from hoteliers and others who operate commercial swimming pools.
The extension applies only to existing swimming pools, wading pools and spas. It does not apply to pools and spas that are being newly constructed or altered. Newly constructed pools or altered facilities are subject to a March 15, 2012, compliance deadline.
The DOJ also issued a new guidance document related to its interpretation of the requirements for pool and spa accessibility.
Author: Gail Cecchettini Whaley
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