New ADA regulations require higher standards for accommodating guests and potential guests with disabilities.
Reservation System Must Accommodate Disabled Individuals – Effective March 15, 2012
Even before the guest enters your property there are new standards for reservations. These new standards, include but are not limited to, a requirement to allow individuals with disabilities to make reservations at the same time and in the same manner as non-disabled guests. The reservation system must identify and describe the accessible features to allow a guest to assess independently whether the hotel or guestroom will meet his or her needs. There are additional requirements requiring the hotel to ensure that accessible rooms are held for use by individuals with disabilities until all other guestrooms of that type have been rented and guarantee that a specifically reserved accessible guestroom, reserved through the reservation system is available. These changes to the ADA are a concern as hotels have been subject to drive-by plaintiffs alleging that they wanted to stay at the hotel but were unable and, now, plaintiffs may only have to allege that they tried to call.
Service Animals – Effective March 15, 2012
Only dogs and miniature horses are allowed as service animals. And, when a guest brings a dog or miniature horse to assist with a disability, under the regulations, you are only allowed to ask: (1) if the animal is required because of a disability; and (2) what work or task the animal has been trained to do. You cannot ask about the individual’s disability or request proof that the animal is trained.
Pools – Effective January 31, 2013*
Swimming pools that have three hundred (300) or more linear feet of swimming pool wall are now required to have at least two (2) accessible means of entry. Pools with less than three hundred (300) linear feet of swimming pool wall need only one (1) accessible means of entry. The accessibility standards suggest that the means be different and be placed at different locations at the pool. At least one of the accessible means of entry required by ADA guidelines is a swimming pool lift or sloped entry.
*Update: On May 18, 2012 the Department of Justice extended the compliance date from May 21, 2012 to January 31, 2013.
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