Responding to concerns from pool industry experts and a hotel/ lodging industry coalition, the White House issued a 60-day extension for compliance with requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The extension was granted March 15 (the date set as the original deadline), two days after Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced a bill which would prevent enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act relative to commercial pools and spas. Pool operators now have until May 15, 2012 to comply, but the time could be extended further.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice, “The department will also publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with a 15-day comment period on a possible six-month extension in order to allow additional time to address misunderstandings regarding compliance with these ADA requirements.”
While operators now have more time to meet the requirements, pool industry experts say the extension does not address the larger concerns raised when the DOJ issued an interpretation of the ADA Act restricting use of portable lifts.
The ruling states that ADA Title III facilities (including hotels, motels nonprofits, swim clubs and other such facilities) may use portable lifts that meet the 2010 standards only if a fixed lift is not “readily achievable.”
For Title II (municipal) facilities, the DOJ said sharing a portable lift between multiple pools is not permitted unless it would result in undue burdens to provide equipment at each one. Further, the DOJ said portable lifts must be available and operable during all hours that the pool is open to the public.
An alliance of aquatics organizations and manufacturers recently sent a letter to the DOJ requesting that the agency reconsider the interpretation, but as of press time there had been no response said New York attorney Steven Getzoff. He is representing the group, which includes the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, S.R. Smith, the National Swimming Pool Foundation, Spectrum Aquatics and Aqua Creek Products.
“We’ve been involved in the process from the get go and nowhere was it ever suggested that lifts should be fixed elements,” said John Caden. “As industry we don’t agree with [the DOJ interpretation]. It has a lot of disadvantages.”