The new Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG 2011) went into effect on March 15, 2012. There are many changes in the new ADAAG, which we will be discussing in future articles. In this article we are discussing access to swimming pools.
While California Building Code has required disability access into swimming pools for a while, the previous ADAAG had no such requirement. Under the new ADAAG, if it’s readily achievable, swimming pools have to be made disabled-accessible, even if the facility was built before the ADA was passed and hasn’t been renovated since. This new requirement makes it clearer that existing facilities have to retrofit their pools for access.
Retrofitting a pool to make it accessible is very easy, so businesses with pools, such as hotels, will have a difficult time proving it is not readily achievable for them to install a pool lift. There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of hotels in California alone that have resisted installing lifts for their customers with disabilities. These facilities are now required to install pool lifts, or they will violate the civil rights of their patrons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities will no longer have to put up with hotels not having lifts; they will have the full power of the ADA to force installation of pool lifts.
New Pool ADAAG Mandates Extended
On March 15, 2012, just as hotels around the nation were going to be required to ensure their pools are accessible to their disabled patrons, an eleventh-hour extension, lobbied for heavily by hotel managers and owners, granted an additional 60 days before compliance is required.
Once the new guidelines go into effect, hotel swimming pools have to be made disabled-accessible, even if the facility was built before the ADA was passed and hasn’t been renovated since. This new requirement makes it clearer that existing facilities have to retrofit their pools for access. However, disabled hotel guests will now have to wait until at least May 21, 2012 before they have a right to equal access to pools and hot tubs. They may have to wait even longer.
On the same day Attorney General Eric Holder extended the deadline, he also signed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public comment on whether a longer period of time would be appropriate to allow pool owners and operators to meet their compliance obligations. This next extension could last as long six months.
Attorney Mark Potter at 800-383-7027 or Mark@PotterHandy.com
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