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New ADA regulations take effect in March 2012

publication date: Jun 10, 2011
author/source: AH&LA’s ADA Webpage
ADA Quiz - use this
By now you should know that new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations were passed in September, 2010. But how much do you really know about what this means? It's time to find out. 

New ADA regulations take effect in March 2012

1. Which areas are affected by the 2010 regulations?

A. Swimming pools
B. Golf courses
C. Shooting ranges
D. All the above
4. What is the compliance timeline for adhering to the new regulations?

A. March, 2012
B. September, 2011
C. June, 2014
D. April, 2011
2.  How much space is now required around
a toilet?

A. 2 feet
B. 3 feet
C. 5 feet
D. 6 feet
5. Which properties are affected by the new regulations?

A. Only newly-constructed properties
B. Only properties with more than 50 rooms
C. Only properties built or renovated after 1991
D. All properties
3. True or False:

An accessible room is to be reserved solely for persons requiring the accessibility features.  


6. What resources can AH&LA members access to assist with adoption of new regulations?

A. A free Webinar, A Hotelier's Guide to New Title III ADA Regulations
B. Personal access to ADA expert on staff
C. Free publication expanding on new pools and spas regulations
D. All of the above
 Scroll down for the answers. No cheating...

Question 1           Answer:  D. All of the Above

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to all Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities. This includes nearly all publically available areas of a lodging establishment, such as swimming pools, golf courses, shooting ranges, beaches, restaurants, conference rooms, and lobbies.

The law is designed to protect civil rights of people who have physical and mental disabilities in a matter similar to the way previous civil rights laws have protected people of various races, religions, and ethnic backgrounds. The ADA provides individuals with disabilities the right to participate in and enjoy the goods, services, privileges, benefits, and accommodations offered to the general public.

For more information, visit the Department of Justice ADA Webpage.

AH&LA members can access additional resources 

Question 2           Answer: C. 5 Feet

The 2010 Standards require a 5'-wide space around the toilet, and does not allow anything to be placed in that area.  The 1991 Standards allow a vanity to be placed in the area, provided there is still at least 36" of space around the toilet. 

Other changes in the Final Rule and the Department's commentary may mitigate the impact of this rule in future alterations.  For example, the Final Rule eliminates the existing rule that if enough elements are altered in any given space, then the entire space has to be made fully accessible.  Thus, assuming your bathrooms comply with the 1991 Standards, hotels may be able to make soft-goods renovations in their guest rooms.  Additionally, you may be able to make changes in the bathroom without triggering an obligation to comply with the new toilet clear floor space or vanity requirements, provided these specific elements are left intact. 

Finally, some of the Department's commentary suggests that compliance with the 2010 Standards may be considered technically infeasible if plumbing stacks, mechanical equipment, and walls cannot be moved.

AH&LA members can access additional resources

Question 3              Answer: False

The Department added significant changes to how reservations are made, but they do allow that when demand is high, accessible rooms can be sold to a non-disabled guest. The new regulations require hotel reservations services to hold back the accessible rooms in each room type for use by a person with a disability until they are the last to sell. The new regulations also require that, once reserved, accessible rooms be blocked and removed from all reservations systems to eliminate the possibility of double booking.

The Final Rule requires reservations systems to identify the accessible features of the hotel and guest room.  The Department declined to identify the specific information that must be provided in the regulation itself.  However, its discussion in the accompanying commentary does provide some guidance about what that information might be.  One aspect of the commentary is the Department's suggestion that hotel reservations systems must include aspects of the hotel that are not accessible. 

AH&LA members can access additional resources 

Question 4              Answer:  A. March, 2012

The Department adopted a compliance date of March, 15, 2012, which is 18 months after the publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.

The Department accepted AH&LA's 18-month proposal, providing that alterations and new construction projects for which the last permit application is submitted prior to the 18-month Compliance Date can either comply with the 1991 Standards or the 2010 Standards.  If no permits are involved in the project, then the date of the start of construction would be the defining event.

AH&LA members can access additional resources 

Question 5            Answer:  D. All Properties

The ADA applies to all Public Accommodations regardless of age of construction or renovation, although the applicable criteria may vary. The Department requires all properties to implement accessible features that are "Readily Achievable" unless certain prohibitive criteria exists making this impossible. In addition, the Department provides some grandfathering protections for existing facilities that currently comply with the previous ADA standards until the property under goes a renovation.

Question 6              Answer:  D. All of the Above

AH&LA has produced multiple tools for its members to assist in their compliance with this far-reaching and confusing regulation. Among the tools AH&LA has developed are

  • Webinars
  • Advisories
  • Legal memos
  • Lodging Magazine articles
  • Web documents
  • Staff assistance
All tools are available to AH&LA members on AH&LA's ADA Webpage.  Additionally, members can contact Kevin Maher for specific inquiries.

For more information about becoming an AH&LA member, visit www.ahla.com/membership.

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