(read her piece and my thoughts after the jump)
2010 Standards for Accessible Design drew the ire of the hotel and resort
industry by requiring fixed pool lifts.
Pool lifts (fixed or portable) allow people with mobility impairments to
enter a swimming pool. The new
regulations require fixed (not
portable) lifts to be at every
pool. These regulations go into effect
this month (January 2013).
problems, according to the hotel and resort industries, involve liability and
cost. Some resorts have several pools at
the same resort. Many pools are
unattended by a lifeguard. Presently, resorts
might have a couple of portable lifts that they bring out for use when needed,
under trained employee supervision, and when the lift is no longer needed, it
is returned to a secure location. Under the revised rules, a fixed lift would be
required at each pool.
lifts, opponents argue, are a liability hazard because of the foreseeable injuries
resulting from children and adolescents playing on them, jumping off of them
into the pool, and other scenarios that anyone with a child can imagine. People using the lifts at unattended areas could
get trapped in the lift in the water.
lifts cost thousands of dollars. According
to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a fixed lift and installation
could cost more than $9,000. Installing
a fixed lift requires a contractor because it must be affixed to the pool
deck. Electrical work might also be
required. There would be on-going costs
involving maintaining the lift, ensuring it’s usable, training employees on its
use, and repairing the lift, among other costs.
To address these concerns, HR 203 has been
introduced into the 113th Congress.
HR 203 attempts to revise the new 2010 regulations by eliminating the
requirement for fixed pool lifts: (b)
Revision of Rules- Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this
Act, the Attorney General shall revise section 36.304 of title 28, Code of
Federal Regulations, and any other appropriate rules in part 36 of such title
to provide that--
(1) a public
accommodation or commercial facility that has a pool and uses a portable pool
lift on request shall be in compliance with the requirement under such rules to
provide an accessible means of entry to such pool, even if installation of a
permanent lift is readily achievable; and
(2) a public
accommodation or commercial facility that has more than 1 pool and uses 1
portable pool lift on request for all such pools shall be in compliance with
the requirement under such rules to provide an accessible means of entry to
each such pool.
blog attempts to view the ADA through “reasonable” lens. Pool lifts allow for full and equal enjoyment
of pools by the disabled. Safety and
cost, in this instance, present true limits, and because of these limits, it
seems reasonable to allow pool lifts to be portable. Portable lifts should be available for use at
any time that the pool is open and their use should be on-demand, and not by
providing notice. Regarding (b)(2)
above, the number of pool lifts available should be dependent upon the number
of pools served by the lifts, instead of one lift for all pools.
analysis aside, fixed lifts at unattended pools would be a safety hazard to the
children and teenagers who would undoubtedly crawl on them, attempt to use them,
and jump off of them, and a serious liability concern for the owners of these
fixed lifts. Providing full and equal
enjoyment, while minimizing safety hazards, can be accomplished with portable
Jule makes a great point about the potential safety implications for fixed lifts. In the ADA conversation, the focus is so often on accessibility (given that it is the point of the law) that by-products of accessibility sometimes get overshadowed. This is a good example. While I am not an expert in aquatic operations in particular, it seems to me that temporary lifts may make good sense from a safety perspective. The very nature of a temporary lift means that its use will always be supervised by a qualified individual, and thus that the chance of misuse or horseplay around the lift is substantially reduced. If the price to pay for a safer alternative for everyone is the few minutes of time that it takes to request and set up the lift, that does not seem like an unreasonable trade off to make. The question will be whether Congress - who has much bigger projects on its agenda this term - will pay much heed to this issue that, many will say, was just addressed in new regulations that took effect only this month. While I, personally, am not overly optimistic that HR 203 will find much traction, I think it represents good law and hope that it does.
- Erik H. Beard, Esq.
- I am an attorney practicing in Hartford, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.
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