As reported late yesterday
, the White House 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.
In a press release from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA),the association said the response was a direct result of dedicated hoteliers repeatedly contacting members of Congress seeking redress and the industry’s collective strength displayed during AH&LA’s 2012 Legislative Action Summit.
“Guest service and accommodation have always been priorities for the lodging industry,” said AH&LA President and CEO Joe McInerney. “Hoteliers have worked with governmental agencies and advocacy groups for decades to ensure accessible accommodations are available for travelers with disabilities. AH&LA is encouraged that we were able to find a solution that took our implementation concerns into account, while still being able to fully serve our disabled guests.”
AH&LA built a Congressional bi-partisan group of over 120 Senators and Representatives that reached out to the DOJ on behalf of the lodging industry. This led to AH&LA working with the White House to find a reasonable solution to serve the needs of disabled guests and the lodging industry.
In a response sent to association members late Thursday, AH&LA thanked its members saying, "this delay would not have occurred without the lodging industry’s impressive grass roots response." The association also said that it engaged in an extensive media campaign, with national coverage expected Friday during CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
The pool lift requirement created a major concern for hoteliers when the DOJ issued a guidance on Jan. 31 that changed the pool entry requirement originally defined in the 2010 ADA Standards. The January guidance stated that portable lifts complying with all stated requirements would not be acceptable unless a fixed lift was not readily achievable, which meant that virtually all properties would need to install a permanently fixed lift by March 15, 2012. With only six weeks before the deadline, compliance would be impossible due to the difficulties in installing fixed lifts and their availability, AH&LA said.
While AH&LA has sought a common-sense solution to the pool lift issue, it stressed that the lodging industry is extremely supportive of the numerous other provisions of the ADA did take effect on Thursday.
The association said it will follow up with the extraordinary number of Congressional offices that have reached out on behalf of the lodging industry, as well as the White House.
Hoteliers should proceed forward in complying with the pool lift requirement under the ADA, albeit with a more realistic implementation schedule. Properties featuring pools and spas will still need a means of entry, and AH&LA will meet with the White House next week to discuss the original interpretation of the 2010 ADA Standards, the association advised members.