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October 16, 2012 -
Today's tips come from Joan Stein, the president and CEO of Accessibility Development Associates Inc. She warns building managers to be aware of changes to ADA standards that took effect on March 15 of this year after being published in 2010.
The 2010 ADA Standards apply to both existing buildings for readily-achievable barrier removal, renovations, alterations as well as new construction. The complete set of the 2010 ADA Standards can be found at www.ada.gov. Since you can no longer use the 1991 ADA Standards, these are the comprehensive requirements for all title II and title III facilities.
The toilet requirement has been changed from an absolute 18 inches from the side wall or partition to a range of 16-18 inches from the side wall or partition in a toilet room or accessible toilet stall. For ambulatory stalls, the requirement has been changed to 15-17 inches from the sidewall or partition. That's the good news.
The requirements for clear floor space at a toilet have changed significantly. You can no longer place a lavatory within the clear floor space requirement for a side transfer. Look to Chapter 6 (604) for clear floor space requirements for toilets in hotel bathrooms as well as accessible toilet stalls in restrooms.
The requirement for lifts at pools and spas has been extended to January 31, 2013, primarily to allow time to clarify whether a pool lift must be "secured" to the pool deck. It comes down to the terminology that the ADA Standards cover "fixed" elements - in other words, if you turn the room upside down, whatever doesn't fall is covered. Many facilities have purchased portable lifts that are put away and brought out to the pool (or spa) on request by a guest with a disability. The standards state that the lift must be in place and available for independent use (paraphrase) during the hours that the pool is available to all users.
This issue is yet to be decided. My professional recommendation is to continue whatever efforts you have been making to purchase a lift. If your pool is existing (and you are not doing any renovations or new construction), your obligation is to perform readily achievable barrier removal. If it is new construction, I believe the lift will be required to be fixed. Remember also that all barrier removal efforts are eligible for tax deductions.