The Department of Justice (DOJ), late on May 17, released an important announcement regarding access to new swimming facilities, and access to existing swimming facilities. It has not yet been published in the Federal Register, but the DOJ is announcing an extension regarding EXISTING pools and the access requirements until January 31, 2013.
John McGovern at Recreation Accessibility Consultants LLC, has prepared this summary for NRPA members.
What you should know about this extension:
NEW POOLS, SPAS, AND SWIMMING FACILITIES OWNED BY GOVERNMENTS (title II) OR BUSINESSES OR NONPROFITS (title III)
Pools under construction March 15, 2012 or later MUST comply with the scoping provisions in section 242 of the 2010 Standards and the technical requirements in section 1009 of the 2010 Standards. No exceptions.
EXISTING POOLS, SPAS, AND SWIMMING FACILITIES OWNED AND OPERATED BY STATES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
Existing pools that the (title II) unit of government decides will be made accessible need not comply with the section 242 scoping requirements and the section 1009 technical requirements until January 31, 2013. Please remember that some pools may be left as is and inaccessible in jurisdictions where there are more than one pool. It is highly likely that in jurisdictions with only one pool though that the single pool serving the community must be made accessible.
EXISTING POOLS, SPAS, AND SWIMMING FACILITIES OWNED AND OPERATED BY BUSINESSES OR NONPROFITS
Existing pools that the (title III) business (such as a hotel) or nonprofit (such as a Y), where making the pool accessible is readily achievable, need not comply with the section 242 scoping requirements and the section 1009 technical requirements until January 31, 2013. Please remember that some corrective work at pools may be determined to be not readily achievable. In that instance the corrective work need not be done. Do remember that there are tax incentives for businesses to help with the cost of access retrofits.
Requirements regarding parking, locker rooms, restrooms, showers, concessions, and other features at an existing pool did become effective March 15, 2012. Don't wait...audit, plan, and implement your changes.
DOJ determined that many pool owners and operators, particularly title III entities and specifically hotels, had an inaccurate understanding of:
- the meaning and application of readily achievable barrier removal;
- the meaning and application of the concept of technical infeasibility; and
- the characteristics of acceptable compliant swimming pool lifts.
DOJ says, and we agree, that pool owners and operators should "complete the fact-specific evaluation" or access audit of existing pools. Title II entities will then determine if, in applying the program access test, the pool will be made accessible. Title III entities will then determine if access retrofits are "readily achievable".
You should also expect continuing education efforts by DOJ on this subject.
As we see and hear more, we'll pass it on to you. As we have said before, this extension should not have a great impact on most of you, who already have plans in place. But if your plan is evolving, at least for aquatics you now have some additional time.
Written by John N. McGovern, J.D., president of Recreation Accessibility Consultants, LLC.