Feds Delay ADA Deadline Again

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The U.S. Department of Justice has extended the deadline for compliance with the ADA commercial swimming pool rules to January 2013.

As the already-extended compliance deadline approached last week, government officials ruled that facilities now do not have to be equipped with handicapped-accessible entry until Jan. 31, 2013. 

This extension applies to previously existing pools, not to newly constructed pools or spas, or those going under alterations.

Estimates have placed the number of pools that need to be brought into compliance at approximately 100,000, and a backlog of orders at lift-manufacturing facilities was said to have been a primary reason for the multiple deadline extensions.

Also, according to a DOJ statement, “there were significant concerns and misunderstandings among a substantial number of pool owners and operators with respect to what was required.” This also factored into the decision to extend the deadline.

An example of the confusion among pool operators, the DOJ said, was the incorrect belief that operators “would have to close pools due to an inability to provide access, even though the regulations allow pool owners and operators to use non-fixed lifts or no lifts at all in circumstances where the provision of access is not readily achievable.”

“Readily achievable,” according to the DOJ, is a term that means “easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.” A number of factors are used in determining whether the installation of access equipment is “readily achievable” and therefore mandated by law. The pool’s ability to pay for it is just one such factor.

For a full and almost willfully obscure list of other factors, readers may visit www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2012-12365_PI.pdf.

Another point of confusion, the DOJ said, was the widely held belief that any pool providing a portable lift would achieve compliance. It does not. Fixed and built-in lifts or access means are required by ADA (assuming these are “readily achievable”).

In general, the ADA mandate states that for public pools less than 300 linear feet in size, one means of access is required, which must be either an ADA-compliant lift or a sloped entry. Pools with greater than 300 linear feet of pool wall must also have a second means of access — either another lift or ramp, or a transfer wall, a transfer system or pool stairs. 

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