On the heels of a U.S. Department of Justice interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act restricting use of portable lifts, several industry organizations and manufacturers are banding together to challenge the decision.
The issue revolves around a DOJ ruling stating that ADA Title
III facilities (including hotels, motels nonprofits, swim clubs and
other such facilities) may use portable lifts that meet the 2010
standards only if a fixed lift is not “readily
For Title II (municipal) facilities, the DOJ said sharing a
portable lift between multiple pools is not permitted unless it
would result in undue burdens to provide equipment at each one.
Further, the DOJ said portable lifts must be available and operable
during all hours that the pool is open to the public.
Stakeholders, including manufacturers and industry organizations,
are hoping to change that.
“The big issue for all of us is leaving the lift out all of
the time,” said John Caden, accessibility specialist at S.R.
Smith in Canby, Ore. “Our fear as an industry ... is that the
lifts are going to become an unintended play hazard.”
As of press time, a group including APSP, S.R. Smith, National
Swimming Pool Foundation, Spectrum Aquatics and Aqua Creek Products
was preparing a response to the DOJ, with legal counsel from New
York attorney Steve Getzoff.
Other organizations were also considering joining the group.
They follow the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which was
first out of the gate, asking that the DOJ reconsider the
interpretation. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder,
AH&LA requested that the DOJ extend the compliance deadline,
originally set for March 15, noted Kevin Maher, senior vice
president, government affairs.
Xochitl Hinojosa, a DOJ spokeswoman, said the DOJ was reviewing the
AH&LA letter and declined further comment on the matter.
The aquatics industry group is not seeking a deadline extension,
but rather more allowance for portable lifts.
“We’re coming at this as the swimming pool industry. We
want to be the experts who are able to provide information to the
DOJ,” said Jennifer Hatfield, APSP’s director of
government affairs. “It’s our contention that there is
still an allowance for portable lifts. I don’t believe that
right now you could say that a portable lift doesn’t meet the
requirements of the act.”
Caden added that to his understanding, there is currently no
research that supports DOJ’s contention that pool lifts be
fixed in place. He said more research and professional risk
assessment is needed.