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ADA Regulation Updates – Deadline 2013

Compliance with Pool/Spa Accessibility Requirements Necessary

The January 31, 2013, deadline for pool and spa accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is approaching and AH&LA is urging members to review their compliance needs.

AH&LA has worked exhaustively to secure a one year extension and clarification of the January 31, 2012, Department of Justice (DOJ) Guidance. In May 2012, DOJ granted a one year extension to January 31, 2013, and issued two guidance documents related to its interpretation of the requirements for pool and spa accessibility in the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.  

According to the current DOJ guidance, by January 31, 2013, all existing pools and spas at lodging facilities must do the following if it is “readily achievable”:

  • Provide at least one means of entry (pool lift or slopped entry) as long it is readily achievable.  Pools with 300 linear feet of wall or more must have a pool lift or entry, and one additional means of entry which can be one of the following:  (1) pool lift; (2) sloped entry; (3) transfer system; (4) transfer wall; or (5) pool stairs.
  • Have the pool lift out in position and ready for use all hours the pool is open.
  • Each body of water (e.g., pools, spas) must have a separate means of entry (there are special rules for clusters of spas).
  • Pool lifts must be attached to the pool deck or apron in some manner unless it is not readily achievable to affix them.

For detailed explanation of the “Questions and Answers:  Accessibility Requirements for Existing Swimming Pools at Hotels and Other Public Accommodations” visit AH&LA’s Website.

AH&LA has raised significant concerns with the current guidance and will continue to work for resolutions of these issues. We will continue to keep you apprised of developments.

AH&LA Summarizes DOJ Pool and Spa Entry Guidance

On May 24, 2012, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued two new guidance documents related to its interpretation of the requirements for pool and spa accessibility in the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. These documents follow the May 17 announcement by DOJ extending the compliance deadline for pool and spa entry to January 31, 2013.

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DOJ Issues Further Guidance on Pool and Spa Entry Requirements

May 24, 2012 - This afternoon the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued further guidance on the requirements for pool and spa entry under the Americans with Disabilities Act. On May 17, DOJ announced an extension to the compliance deadline to January 31, 2013, and also announced their intent to provide further clarification. Read more

Compliance Date for Existing Pool and Spas Extended to January

Following months of hard work by AH&LA and the lodging industry, the Department of Justice (DOJ) last night announced a substantial postponement of the ADA compliance date for existing pools and spas with ADA requirements for accessible entries.  The new compliance date – January 31, 2013 – is more than an additional nine months beyond the original date of March 15, 2012. 

DOJ found that the delay will allow the Department to “continue to educate covered entities about their obligations under the 2010 Standards…and to address misunderstandings that could lead covered entities to take unnecessary and counterproductive steps….” The DOJ had received over 1,400 comments urging additional time to comply with this requirement outweighing the nearly 500 comments opposing any extension.

The DOJ specifically noted three areas of concern resulting from misunderstandings. First, some operators took steps to comply with the entry requirements based on false understandings.  Second, many operators were having difficulty in finding an adequate supply of pool lifts.  Third, some operators were considering closing pools when it may not be warranted. For these reasons, the DOJ concluded a delay in the compliance was necessary. DOJ noted that this delay does not affect pool and spas that are under construction or are being altered. The fixed lift requirement applies now to pools and spas being constructed or altered.

This extension is a direct result of the groundswell of action from hoteliers who wrote and met with their members of Congress to discuss the lodging industry’s common sense solutions. Thank you for your effort, which resulted in overwhelming Congressional support and forced DOJ to re-examine the unreasonable compliance deadline. This issue clearly demonstrates the collective strength of the lodging industry. 

The announcement by DOJ does not change the substance of DOJ’s “fixed” lift requirement.  In retaining this requirement, DOJ did not address concerns raised by AH&LA and the lodging industry such as the increased liability associated with making lifts permanently available when life guards are not present, sharing of lifts between multiple pools and spas, or the extensive construction and electrical bonding work needed to install fixed lifts.

For a full description of the DOJ’s extension, click here. 

AH&LA continues to support efforts to provide entry to pools and spas for all travelers and will seek measures that will ensure the safety of all guests. For AH&LA’s Myth v. Fact on this issue, click here.

Pool Entry Amendment Stays in Appropriations Bill

May 9, 2012 - The House of Representatives debated—but retained—the Carter-Nunnelee-Flake Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice (DOJ) from enforcing the requirement for a permanent means of entry to pools and spas for one year.  Thank you to our members who made calls to their Representatives to support our effortsRead more

White House Meeting and New Pool Lift Legislation

March 26, 2012 - Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) today introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4256) titled, ‘‘Pool Safety and Accessibility for Everyone (Pool SAFE) Act.’’ Pool SAFE would provide a one year delay for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) pool lift requirement, allow the use of portable lifts, allow sharing of lifts between pools, and protect hoteliers from being sued during the delay period. AH&LA supports this legislation as it provides a reasonable solution to the pool lift requirement, while still providing access to travelers with disabilities. The bill has 26 original co-sponsors.
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Compliance Extension for Existing Pools

On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder signed a final rule extending the date for compliance with sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design as it relates to the provision of accessible entry and exit to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas for a period of 60 days after the publication of the rule in the Federal Register. On that same day, the Attorney General 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. Specifically, the NPRM proposes a 180-day extension of the deadline. Comments on the NPRM must be submitted on or before April 4, 2012.

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 White House Responds to Lodging Industry's Appeals

The White House today issued a 60-day extension that will push the compliance date for the pool lift requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to May 15, 2012. DOJ 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.

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ADA - Sample thank you letter

Attached please find a sample thank you letter for our members to use as a template to thank our legislators for supporting our industry. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Reynolds at 850-224-2250 x228

Senator Marco Rubio (R- FL)

Representative Daniel Webster (R - 08)

Click here to download the letter template

 March 15 Deadline and January Clarification Reiterated

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) informed AH&LA this week that it would not revisit its January 31 clarification requiring all public swimming pools to have permanently affixed lifts if readily achievable, nor would it extend the March 15, 2012, deadline for lodging facilities and other public accommodations to comply with the new requirements.

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Congressman Webster's Letter on ADA pool Accessibility regulations

After meeting with FRLA members, Congressman Daniel Webster composed and sent a letter to Ms. Allison Nichol, Chief of the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.  In his Letter, Congressman Webster asked that the compliance deadline be extended to March 1, 2013, and that the regulations be revised to permit the use of portable pool lifts, account for the safety concerns associated with fixed pool lifts, and consider whether a different requirement is appropriate for public accommodations with several pools in close proximity to one another.  To read the entire letter please click here

Hoteliers urged to contact DOJ on ruling

Wednesday, February 8, 2012, AH&LA met with the Department of Justice (DOJ), and they reiterated their harsh and unyielding interpretation that all pools and nearly all spas need to have at least one means of entry by March 15, 2012, and in most cases this will be a costly permanently fixed lift.

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A Message from our partners at AH&LA  on ADA Pool lifts

February 3, 2012  - We understand that your members are upset about the Department of Justice ruling on swimming lifts. We are fed-up with it, but we keep fighting to make a difference, if not regulations and legislation will be worse for all of us.  Hopefully, you are telling the members the things that we have done on ADA. Without our involvement the new Americans with Disabilities Act requirements would have not taken our industries concerns into account and the results would have been untenable for most properties. AH&LA worked with the Department of Justice to address the needs of guests and the realistic ability of properties to make changes to the Guidelines for over 10 years.

Click here to read more

Click here to download the Property Check-list on ADA requirements
Click here to download the Employee Check-list on ADA requirements

DOJ interprets ADA pool lift Requirement

February 1, 2012 - After months of pressure from AH&LA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday issued a burdensome interpretation of when and how lifts need to be installed at swimming pools under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although the DOJ did not specifically address spas, the principles set forth in the DOJ guidance could apply to spas as well.

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Disabled access rule may close some hotel pools

Many hotels are faced with making improvements to pools by Thursday or falling out of compliance with the latest accessibility laws for disabled people. Hoteliers must have pool lifts to provide disabled people equal access to pools and whirlpools, or at least have a plan in place to acquire a lift. If they don't, they face possible civil penalties of as much as $55,000. There are about 51,000 hotels, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and most have pools. The lifts are required by regulations made in 2010 stemming from the Americans With Disabilities Act, a civil rights law that bans discrimination based on disability.

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Hotels Rushing to Meet New ADA Swimming Pool Regulations

March 14, 2012 (JACKSONVILLE, Fla) Tonight, local hotels are scrambling to get in line with a new regulation. The Department of Justice is requiring hotels and public facilities to install a device that would make swimming pools accessible to people with disabilities. It's all part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but some say it's a big blow to their bottom line.

It's been many years since Patricia Scott has taken a refreshing dip on a hot Jacksonville day in a swimming pool. She's been confined to a wheelchair since 2006 because of back injuries.  "The only activities that I enjoy now is that if it rains, if I get caught in the rain outside, and that's about it," she said.

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Free 6-Part Webinar Series for FRLA/AH&LA Members

Click here to learn more about this free resource for members

ADA Pool and Spa video from AHL&A

Click here to see AH&LA's new service video

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

New public accommodations rules from the Department of Justice have been made public. See Chapter 2 - Scoping and Chapter 10 - Recreation Facilities for pool and spa related information. Read below for a summary of information and some frequently asked questions


AH&LA ADA Resources

Beginning in March 2012, a new round of Accessibility Guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act will go into effect. AH&LA proactively engaged the Department of Justice early in the process of shaping the new ADA standards, ensuring that the new regulations addressed the needs of guests, while weighing the practicality of implementation. AH&LA has the resources to make sure you are readyClick here to view all the resources (member login required) or contact Kevin Maher at (202) 289-3147 or kmaher@ahla.com for more information

Tips from Ensuring An Outstanding Guest Experience for Individuals with Disabilities

Click here for the full article.

Deadline Looms for New ADA Law Compliance

After a six-year wait, the Americans with Disabilities Act swimming pool guidelines have become the law of the land. Aquatics facilities now have 18 months to comply with the new law or seek an unlikely exclusion.


ADA Fact Sheet from the Florida Swimming Pool Association

The Florida Swimming Pool Association has put together a great 2-page fact sheet with common questions about ADA as it relates to swimming pools.



The Department has assembled this official online version of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards) to bring together the information in one easy-to-access location.  It provides the scoping and technical requirements for new construction and alterations resulting from the adoption of revised 2010 Standards in the final rules for Title II (28 CFR part 35) and Title III (28 CFR part 36).