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Facing the Real Possibility that Hotels will Close Pools and Spas Under the Current
ADA Pool Lift Requirement, AH&LA Testifies in Support of Reasonable Pool Entry


Washington, D.C., April 25, 2012
– The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) testified today before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution in support of reasonable pool and spa entry requirements for travelers with disabilities and called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work for sensible measures that provide access while protecting children from harm.

AH&LA ADA Counsel Minh Vu, a partner with Seyfarth Shaw, testified that, “much to their (the lodging industry) surprise and dismay, the Department of Justice changed the rules on January 31, 2012 – only six weeks before the compliance deadline,” adding that “the DOJ violated the Administrative Procedures Act when it issued these substantive new requirements without public notice or comment.  These requirements were never mentioned by the DOJ at any time in the rulemaking process and do not appear anywhere in the 2010 Final Rule.”

Many lodging operators had purchased, or were in the process of purchasing, portable pools lifts that would provide access for travelers with disabilities under the 2010 Standards. These lifts can be stored when not in use, and thus prevent children from playing on them and getting hurt or damaging expensive equipment. On January 31, 2012, the Justice Department reinterpreted the 2010 Standards to require all lifts to be permanently affixed to the pool deck and available any hour a pool or spa is open to the public. Affixing a pool lift requires demolition of a pool deck to electrically ground, or bond, the lift to the deck. Portable lifts complying with all requirements of the 2010 Standards require no changes to a pool deck and can be quickly secured into place for use at adjoining pools and spas.
 
Ms. Vu raised several lodging industry concerns, including:
  • “The DOJ did not consider the increased risk of injury to children who will play on and jump off the pool lift into the shallow end of the   pool…The Association recently submitted a report to DOJ  from a national aquatic safety expert who opined that an unattended pool lift left beside the pool raises serious safety concerns that must be studied.”
  • “The DOJ did not consider the risk of individuals with disabilities being injured while using an unattended lift that they have not used before.”
  • “The DOJ did not consider the liability that businesses will face when children and other people injure themselves using unattended lifts.”
  • “The DOJ did not consider the very real possibility that businesses will close their pools and spas in order to avoid being sued for lift injuries or, if they do not install a fixed lift, for not having one.”
AH&LA called on the Justice Department to withdraw the January 31, 3012, reinterpretation of the 2010 Standards and replace it with a guidance that allows the use of portable lifts that can be brought out upon request and shared between two pools or a pool and a spa in the same area.  An extension of the compliance deadline would be necessary to ensure that enough lifts can be manufactured to equip all of the pools and spas that need lifts.

These new regulations will affect hundreds of thousands of pools and spas owned or operated by businesses and state and local governments.  While the lodging industry fully supports the goals of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act and is committed to meeting the needs of all travelers, hoteliers are seeking a solution that achieves the dual purpose of accessibility and safety for all guests.

About the AH&LA
Serving the hospitality industry for a century, AH&LA is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.
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Contact:

Kathryn Potter
KPotter@ahla.com


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Also See: AH&LA Urges DOJ to Retract the Jan. 31, 2012 Pool Lift Requirements Document, Stating that the DOJ Did Not Follow Proper Procedures when Altering the Requirements; Over 1,200 Comments Filed in Favor of Delay and Portable Lifts / April 2012

AH&LA Supports Legislation Providing a One Year Delay for the ADA Pool Lift Requirement; Additionally Will Allow Use of Portable Lifts and Sharing Lifts Between Pools / March 2012

AH&LA Secures Compromise on ADA Pool Lift Requirement; White House Responds to Lodging Industry’s Appeals with a 60-day Extension of Compliance Due Date / March 2012

AH&LA Launches Women in Lodging Connect Competition in Honor of National Women’s Month; WIL State Chapters Challenged to Rally the Most New Members by June 1, 2012 / March 2012

American Hotel & Lodging Association Presents 2012 John Whitaker Award to James G Weitkamp, Vice President, Harbor Linen, LLC,; State Leadership Awards Presented to Members of Each Partner State Association in Recognition of Their Assistance with AH&LA Programs / February 2012

AH&LA Recommendations on the Top Five Things You Should Know About the New 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act / February 2012

AH&LA Seeks Department of Justice Clarification on Swimming Pool Lift Requirements Under 2010 ADA Standards; Industry Requests Guidance on These Standards to Take Effect March 15, 2012 / November 2011

AH&LA Opposes Ban on Federal Employees Attending Events; Proposed Rule Stifles Exchange of Expertise by Restricting Government Employees from Accepting Free Invitations to Attend Conferences / October 2011

AH&LA Defends Value of Meetings for Federal Agencies; Cites Benefits of Meetings to U.S. Economy / October 2011

AH&LA Surveys Industry in Aftermath of Hurricane Irene; Hoteliers Share Lessons Learned and Stories Exemplifying Hospitality / September 2011

AH&LA Lodging Industry Profile (LIP) Charts Profits, Sales and International Arrivals for 2010 Which Indicate Slight Uptick in Profitability / August 2011

David Kong and Montine McNulty Receive AH&LA Lawson Odde Award / June 2011

Partner Lodging Associations Honored by AH&LA for Outstanding Leadership and Growth / June 2011

AH&LA Honors Outstanding Hotel Employees with Annual Stars of the Industry Awards / June 2011

AH&LA Honors Hotels With National Achievement Awards; Hotels with Innovative IT, Environmental, Service Programs Recognized / June 2011

American Hotel & Lodging Association Presents 2011 John Whitaker Award to David Goldstone and State Leadership Awards to Members of Each Partner State Association in Recognition of Their Assistance with AH&LA Programs / March 2011

American Hotel & Lodging Association Quizzes Hoteliers on Mandatory Americans with Disabilities Act 2010 Regulations; Deadline to Comply with ADA is March 15, 2011 / March 2011

Mayur Chheda Of Infinity Hotel Group Named To American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) Board Of Directors / February 2011

Joe Martin Takes Role of 2009 American Hotel & Lodging Association Chairman John Campbell Elected Secretary/treasurer, Will Serve as Chairman in 2011 / November 2008

The AH&LA Elects David Kong as 2008 Secretary/treasurer; The President and CEO of Best Western International Will Serve as the Association’s Chairman in 2010 / November 2007


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