Hotels Trying To Buy Time For Making Pools Accessible To The Disabled

Warmer weather is headed our way, and with the heat comes the desire to take a dip into a cool pool. But it’s not so easy for those with disabilities, which is why there’s a May 21 deadline for pools at hotels and recreation centers to be accessible. Some pool operators are pushing back against that mandate and asking for more time.

The L.A. Times says a new regulation requires hotels and rec centers that operate public pools and spas to install or order permanent lifts by May 21. Pool ramps can also satisfy the requirement, but they’re even more expensive than the $2,500-$6,500 the lifts cost to buy and install.

Advocates for disabled Americans and pool owners are at odds, with one side claiming better pool access is overdue, and owners trying to extend the deadline or have portable lifts fulfill the requirement.

Hotel owners say it’s not that they don’t want to improve pool access, it’s just that they need more time, or that the permanent lifts are expensive. And industry representatives say the lifts could be a safety hazard for kids who might want to play on them.

Many hotel owners support federal legislation that would allow pool operators to comply with portable lifts and delay implementing them for 12 months. Of the roughly 256,000 pools across the country that pool manufacturers estimate are under the regulation, only a small percentage of them are already equipped with lifts. Pool operators say they need that 12 months because of a backlog of orders for the permanent lifts.

While some hotel chains are working quickly to order and install the lifts, advocates for the disabled say the hotel industry has already had plenty of time to comply with the regulation.

“I think it needs to be abundantly clear that these rules need to be enforced,” said Lara Schwartz, vice president of external affairs for the American Assn. of People with Disabilities. “We can’t just kick this can down the road.”

Hotels with pools want to tweak new disabled-access rule [L.A. Times]