Since the ADA has pushed public pool accessibility into law hoteliers and others with public pools have been scrambling to either find a way to extend the deadline or comply with the new regulations or find somewhere to buy a compliant lift. Essentially any reasonably sized pool or hot tub needs a fixed lift that meets the ADA’s standards. There were many gripes against this regulation, but mainly it had to do with the expense for most people required to comply. Needless to say, the economy hasn’t been great, so requiring businesses to splurge for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in fees for lifts and installation, the pushback was inevitable.
Wars of words
Unfortunately, as with most things political, the rhetoric in this argument got ratcheted up pretty quickly. As stated above, businesses were rightfully annoyed by the additional expense. Unfortunately, the manner in which the hospitality industry seemed to express their outrage was likely a bit too venomous. The American Association of People with Disabilities and the National Council on Independent Living, in turn, saw this as an attack on people with disabilities in general and tried to paint hoteliers and others lobbying for a new solution or more time as villains.
Unfortunately, the rhetoric had little to do with reality. Most business owners would certainly love to accommodate as many patrons as possible with all their facilities have to offer. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a hotelier who would tell someone in a wheel chair to go climb a tree if they inquired about pool accessibility. Likely, the answer would be, “We’d love to, but at this point it’s not in the budget.” For many on the other side of the fence, the “fight” undoubtedly strikes some emotional notes, and it’s hard to separate that from the fiscal realities for most of the business owners they may be quick to point a finger at. At the end of the day, it seems the two sides have a common goal, they just need to calm down and talk about how to accommodate as many people as possible without burdening businesses beyond their means.
A real concern: safety
Lost in the vortex of screaming voices and bold print is a new worry for business owners with fixed pool lifts – the safety of their patrons. Many businesses have relatively small and shallow pools, but a fixed lift provides a dangerous opportunity for children to climb on, and jump off of the lift into dangerously shallow water. For businesses trying to prevent diving from the edge of the pool, an elevated, fixed wet platform could be a major danger for children who stray from their parents’ watchful eye, and another worry for a business owner.
Beyond the problems with potentially jumping off of the lifts, for smaller indoor pools, a bulky lift can make for cramped walkways. Combining a wet poolside with a condensed area to navigate by can pose a problem for nearly anyone, and a potentially dangerous tripping, or slip and falling situation that no business owner would want to deal with.