–by Clara Rose
On the 20th anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act, newly revised ADA regulations were announced. The long awaited new regulations reflected the fundamental principles that those with different abilities should have equal access and rights to participation in every part of our society.
These new regulations were effective in July of 2010 but compliance was not mandatory until March 15, 2012, giving the hospitality industry almost two years to bring their properties, policies and procedures into compliance.
As the deadline approached, the uproar of the hospitality industry over the water feature lift requirements prompted the Department of Justice to grant a 60 day extension for compliance on that particular regulation. Additionally they published a notice of proposed rulemaking with a 15-day comment period on the possibility of a longer extension to allow time to address misunderstandings regarding compliance with the new requirements.
Despite an outcry from the ADA community stating that facilities have already had two years to come into compliance; the Department of justice said:
“After carefully considering all of these factors, including the unique burden that an additional postponement would impose on individuals with disabilities, the department has concluded that a further extension of the compliance date is warranted.”
With the recent ADA Compliance extension granted by the Department of Justice, the deadline for installation of water feature lifts have been has been pushed out until January 31, 2013. While this short reprieve has created a collective sigh of relief in the hospitality industry, it should not give license to complacency. It is almost certain that there will be very little leniency for those not compliant by this new deadline.
The good news is – properties are not expected to become ADA compliant overnight; rather, they are encouraged to evaluate their facilities and create long-term plans for barrier removal and compliance. The goal of the DOJ is to ensure that everyone – regardless of their different abilities – has an equal opportunity to enjoy services and facilities… not to cause distress or hardship to businesses.
As with most endeavors, a solid plan of action makes any daunting task seem much more achievable. Having an understanding of any deficiencies through an ADA Compliance Survey, is a reasonable place to start when creating a compliance plan. The amount of remediation necessary and the associated costs, will of course determine if there is a need for a phased plan.
Now is the time to create a plan for compliance; not only is it the law but it’s also the right thing to do.
Clara Rose is the Executive Director of Communications for FARROW Commercial Construction and the Executive Director of Operations for ADAF –– the first company to offer an ADA Friendly rating system for the hospitality industry. Clara is also The Resort Industry Examiner for Examiner.com, editor of The FARROW Report, editor of The FARROW Connection, an Expert Author for EzineArticles.com, a contributor for the Yahoo Contributors Network and a contributing editor for Hotel Business Review.
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