Pool regulations go into effect

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Long-awaited accessibility regulations for public pools went into effect February 1, following multiple delays in response to complaints from hotel owners.

Swimming Pool

Rule take effect!

The standards require pools to be equipped with chair lifts to assist people with disabilities with entering and leaving the water. Originally set to go into effect March 15, 2012 as part of new accessible design standards passed by Congress in 2010, the standards are the first ever Americans with Disabilities Act regulations pertaining to pools.

The DOJ postponed the regulations, first for 60 days and then until the most recent deadline, after the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the hotel industry’s main lobbying organization, argued the lifts were too expensive and posed a safety risk. It also argued that the regulations were unclear whether the lifts had to be permanent.

In June, hundreds of activists protested the delay in Washington DC and organized a boycott against hotels that hadn’t installed the chairlifts. For disability activists, the regulations are long overdue.

“They’ve had plenty of time” to find a suitable way to accommodate swimmers with disabilities,” Patrick Wojahn, a National Disability Rights Network public policy analyst, told CNN. “It’s time to make this happen so that people with disabilities don’t have to go through another summer without being able to go swimming with their families.”

The regulations pertain to public swimming pools, hotels, motels, health clubs, recreation centers, public country clubs and businesses. Facilities which fail to install the lifts, which cost an estimated $3,000 and $6,000, may face civil penalties of $55,000.