Accessible pool regulations will not go into effect until 2013
Summer is almost here but the rules to require pool owners to provide accessible lifts are not - and won't be until next year. Disappointingly, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved an extension of the compliance date to January 31, 2013. The original date, March 15, 2012, had been extended to this September, but pressure from the hotel and campground industries prompted the additional extension. These rules have been six years in the making with numerous opportunities for comments and clarifications. The industry has had ample time to prepare.
The Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) previously submitted comments to the DOJ of its concerns with any extension of implementing these rules. "Postponing the compliance date for these regulations further would be an unacceptable roll-back of carefully constructed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility standards and regulations to provide equal access to swimming pools and spas for people with disabilities. People with disabilities who want to have the same opportunity to use public swimming pools just like their family members, friends and peers without disabilities have been waiting over 22 years. They do not deserve to wait any longer," LRS stated in its comments.
After DOJ's initial extension last March, it asked for public comments and received over 1,900 comments from individuals with disabilities, organizations representing individuals with disabilities, pool owners and operators, and other entities covered by the regulations. Approximately 1,420 supported the proposal, including compelling insights from veterans with disabilities, families who have children with disabilities and many others. Only 495 opposed the proposal, mainly due to misunderstandings on how to implement the regulations and what to do if they were not able to immediately comply. The DOJ decided to extend the deadline to provide additional time for the Department to continue to educate covered entities about their obligations to rid of the concerns and misunderstandings.
The 2010 ADA Standards replace the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and, for the first time, contain specific accessibility requirements for certain types of recreational facilities, including the requirement to provide accessible means of entry and exit to swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. For more information about the 2010 Standards, see 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
Read the final rule, including more information about the reasoning behind DOJ's decision: Amendment of Americans with Disabilities Act Title II and Title III Regulations to Extend Compliance Date (PDF file)
See also the DOJ's press release: Justice Department Extends Compliance Deadline for Existing Pools Under the 2010 ADA Standards
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