by Sarah J.F. Braley | July 01, 2012

The Department of Justice has extended the Americans With Disabilities Act's compliance date for existing pools and spas to add accessible entries.

To adhere to recent updates to the ADA regulations, called the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, hotels initially were charged with bringing their pools up to compliance by March 15 of this year; that date has been extended to Jan. 31, 2013. The updates narrowed some original requirements enacted in 1990, reining in elements of the act that were challenged regularly in the intervening 20 years. Title III of the act covers public accommodations, including hotels and convention centers, and the events that take place at such venues.

"The extension is fair and sensible, and the lodging industry supports it," said Joe McInerney, president/CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, based in Washington, D.C.  

The AH&LA and other sectors of the lodging industry lobbied hard to get the date changed, beginning as soon as the original compliance date was announced in September 2010. Also in contention was the part of the new standards requiring that access to pools and spas had to be permanent, or fixed, disallowing the use of portable mechanisms. Despite the efforts of the lodging community, the DOJ did not change that obligation.

"ADA is the only civil rights legislation that does require a financial burden in order to meet its requirements as to a physical plant," said hospitality attorney Jonathan T. Howe, Esq., of Chi­cago's Howe & Hutton firm and M&C's longtime legal columnist. "But the extension indicates a bit of backpedaling by the government in an election year."

For more on the ADA's recent updates, see M&C's earlier articles on the subject: "Hotels Readying for New ADA Requirements", "Accom­modating the Needs of All" and "Complying With ADA".