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ADA Resources

2010 ADA Requirements for all Public Pools
On July 26, 2010 The US Department of Justice released updated Americans with Disability Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design. Among the updates for a number of facility types were new requirements specifically for public swimming pools [See Sections 242, 1009]. The level of accessibility depends on the size and type of the pool. For pools under 300 linear feet in size, the ADA Standard for Accessible Design calls for one means of access, which must be either an ADA-compliant lift, or a sloped entry. Pools with greater than 300 linear feet of pool wall must also have a second means of access. This second means can either be another lift or ramp, or it can also be a transfer wall, a transfer system or pool stairs. Visit the ADA website for more information.

These final rules will take effect March 15, 2011. Compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design is permitted as of September 15, 2010, but not required until March 15, 2012.

ADA Lift
A Complete listing of Bel-Aqua ADA approved pool lifts

Who is Covered by New ADA Standards for Swimming Pools

The below document is being presented to discuss the different types of facilities that would be required to comply with the revised ADA regulations published on September 15, 2010. Entities affected by the revised regulations generally fall under either Title II or Title III of the Act.

Title II outlines regulations for any public entity. A public entity is any activity, service, program or facility owned by any governmental agency. Title III regulates places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and private companies that offer courses and examinations related to educational and occupational certification.

The ADA does not affect any type of residential dwelling, such as a private residence, an apartment complex, a condominium, or a home owner’s association. However, if any of these residential facilities operate an element of public accommodation within their premises, these elements would be subject to ADA regulations.

Here are some examples of situations where a residential entity would fall under ADA regulations with respect to swimming pools:

1. A private residential apartment complex sells memberships to their swimming facilities. This situation would be considered providing a public accommodation.

2. A Home Owner’s Association pool is used for swimming competitions that are open to competitors from outside the association. This situation would also be considered offering a public accommodation.

3. A condominium actively rents out their units when owners are absent, including advertising, taking reservations over the phone, and providing either meals or housekeeping services. In this instance, the condominium would be considered a hotel.

4. A vacation timeshare that operates as a hotel. This facility would be considered a hotel.

Conversely, if any residential entity strictly limits use of their facilities to residents and their guests, they would not be subject to ADA regulations.

Although residential facilities are not required to comply with ADA regulations for swimming pools, they must comply with the Fair Housing Act. Under this legislation, a privately owned residential community must provide a barrier free pathway up to the edge of a pool. In addition, they cannot prevent a resident from using their own apparatus to gain access to the pool, providing it does not provide a hazard for other residents. In other words, if a resident has a portable pool lift and keeps it in storage when not in use, the facility cannot prevent that resident from using the lift to gain access to the pool.

Private clubs are also excluded from ADA regulations in some cases. Final determination would be based on the control of operations, membership requirements, and the amount of fees involved. Operations that have limited or no membership requirements and minimal dues charges do not fall under the private club exclusion. If a private club limits use of their facilities strictly to members and their guests, then the club would not be subject to ADA regulations. However, if that club hosts swimming competitions or any other type of activity that opens the pool to nonmembers, the club would be required to follow ADA regulations for their pool.


Existing Public Pools need to comply with the New ADA Standards
The Department of Justice ruled that since swimming pools were not covered in the 1991 ADA standards at all that all existing public pools and spas must comply with the new Accessibility Standards. Additional information below or you can visit the ADA website for additional information and actual text of the ruling.

General Commentary:   The Department of Justice reviewed the commentary that the cost of requiring facilities to immediately purchase a pool lift for each indoor and outdoor swimming pool would be very significant especially considering the large number of swimming pools at lodging facilities.   Individuals with disabilities and advocates were particularly concerned about the accessibility of pools, and noted that for many people with disabilities, swimming is one of the few types of exercise that is generally accessible and, for some people, can be an important part of maintaining health.  Other commentary was heard on the requirement of two access points for pools over 300 linear feet and it was noted that having two accessible means of egress from a pool can be a significant safety feature in the event of an emergency.

Review:    While reviewing commentary from the public the Department of Justice looked at all ADA requirements for Title II and Title III facilities as adopted in the 2010 ADA standards (as written in the 2004 ADA Guidelines).

Department of Justice Rule:    The rule includes a general "safe harbor" under which elements in covered facilities that were built or altered in compliance with the 1991 Standards would not be required to be brought into compliance with the 2010 Standards until the elements were subject to a planned alteration.  Existing private facilities, public facilities newly constructed or altered since the effective date of the 1991 Standards should already be fully or largely accessible, and older facilities--those built before 1993--have been required to meet the program accessibility requirements for at least 15 years, if not longer.  It is thus reasonable to assume that if structural modifications were necessary to provide program access, they likely would have been implemented by now.

Existing Swimming Pools Must Comply with New 2010 ADA Standards. The 1991 Standards do not contain specific scoping or technical requirements for swimming pools. As a result, under the 1991 title II regulation, title II entities that operate programs or activities that include swimming pools have not been required to provide an accessible route into those pools via a ramp or pool lift, although they are required to provide an accessible route to such pools. In addition, these entities continue to be subject to the general title II obligation to make their programs usable and accessible to persons with disabilities.

2010 Standards: Titles II and III Department of Justice Rule on the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT:
Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 178 / Wednesday, September 15, 2010 / Rules and Regulations

Department of Justice Rule:
Adoption of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The Department has adopted revised ADA design standards that include the relevant chapters of the Access Board's 2004 ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines as modified by specific provisions of this rule. To minimize compliance burdens on entities subject to more than one legal standard, these design standards have been harmonized with the Federal standards implementing the Architectural Barriers Act and with the private sector model codes that are adopted by most States.

Effective Date. The rule will become effective March 15, 2011. On March 15, 2012, compliance with the 2010 Standards will be required for new construction and alterations and barrier removal. In the period between September 15, 2010 and March 15, 2012, covered entities may choose between the 1991 Standards and the 2010 Standards. Covered entities that should have complied with the 1991 Standards during any new construction or alteration of facilities or elements, but have not done so by March 15, 2012, must comply with the 2010 Standards.

Element by Element Safe Harbor. The rule includes a general "safe harbor" under which elements in covered facilities that were built or altered in compliance with the 1991 Standards would not be required to be brought into compliance with the 2010 Standards until the elements were subject to a planned alteration. A similar safe harbor applies to elements associated with the "path of travel" to an altered area.

§ 35.150 Existing facilities.* * * * *
(b) * * *
(2)(i) Safe harbor. Elements that have not been altered in existing facilities on or after March 15, 2012 and that comply with the corresponding technical and scoping specifications for those elements in either the 1991 Standards or in the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), Appendix A to 41 CFR part 101–19.6 (July 1, 2002 ed.), 49 FR 31528, app. A (Aug. 7, 1984) are not required to be modified in order to comply with the requirements set forth in the 2010 Standards.
(ii) The safe harbor provided in § 35.150(b)(2)(i) does not apply to those elements in existing facilities that are subject to supplemental requirements (i.e., elements for which there are neither technical nor scoping specifications in the 1991 Standards).

Elements in the 2010 Standards not eligible for the element-by-element safe harbor are identified as follows—
(A) Residential facilities dwelling units, sections 233 and 809.
(B) Amusement rides, sections 234 and 1002; 206.2.9; 216.12.
(C) Recreational boating facilities, sections 235 and 1003; 206.2.10.
(D) Exercise machines and equipment, sections 236 and 1004; 206.2.13.
(E) Fishing piers and platforms, sections 237 and 1005; 206.2.14.
(F) Golf facilities, sections 238 and 1006; 206.2.15.
(G) Miniature golf facilities, sections 239 and 1007; 206.2.16.
(H) Play areas, sections 240 and 1008; 206.2.17.
(I) Saunas and steam rooms, sections 241 and 612.
(J) Swimming pools, wading pools, and spas, sections 242 and 1009.
(K) Shooting facilities with firing positions, sections 243 and 1010.
(L) Miscellaneous.
(1) Team or player seating, section 221.2.1.4.
(2) Accessible route to bowling lanes, section 206.2.11.
(3) Accessible route in court sports facilities, section 206.2.12.


Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas (Sections 242, 1009)
Accessible means of entry/exit are required for swimming pools. Such accessible means of entry include a pool lift or sloped entry, and either a transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs. Wading pools must provide a sloped entry, and spas must provide a pool lift, transfer wall, or transfer system. Wave action pools, leisure rivers, and sand bottom pools where user access is limited to one area shall not be required to provide more than one accessible means of entry, either a pool lift, sloped entry, or a transfer system.

Summary: 242 and 1009 Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas (Printable Version Section 242)
Accessible Means of Entry to Pools. Section 242 of the 2010 Standards requires at least two accessible means of entry for larger pools (300 or more linear feet) and at least one accessible entry for smaller pools. This section requires that at least one entry will have to be a sloped entry or a pool lift; the other could be a sloped entry, pool lift, a transfer wall, or a transfer system.
(Technical specifications for each entry type are included in Section 1009 (Printable Version).

Detail (Actual Text) 242 Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas
242.1 General. Swimming pools, wading pools, and spas shall comply with 242.

242.2 Swimming Pools. At least two accessible means of entry shall be provided for swimming pools. Accessible means of entry shall be swimming pool lifts complying with 1009.2; sloped entries complying with 1009.3; transfer walls complying with 1009.4; transfer systems complying with 1009.5; and pool stairs complying with 1009.6. At least one accessible means of entry provided shall comply with 1009.2 or 1009.3.

EXCEPTIONS: 1. Where a swimming pool has less than 300 linear feet (91 m) of swimming pool wall, no more than one accessible means of entry shall be required provided that the accessible means of entry is a swimming pool lift complying with 1009.2 or sloped entry complying with 1009.3.2. Wave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where user access is limited to one area shall not be required to provide more than one accessible means of entry provided that the accessible means of entry is a swimming pool lift complying with 1009.2, a sloped entry complying with 1009.3, or a transfer system complying with 1009.5.3. Catch pools shall not be required to provide an accessible means of entry provided that the catch pool edge is on an accessible route.

242.3 Wading Pools. At least one accessible means of entry shall be provided for wading pools. Accessible means of entry shall comply with sloped entries complying with 1009.3.

Advisory 242.2 Swimming Pools. Where more than one means of access is provided into the water, it is recommended that the means be different. Providing different means of access will better serve the varying needs of people with disabilities in getting into and out of a swimming pool. It is also recommended that where two or more means of access are provided, they not be provided in the same location in the pool. Different locations will provide increased options for entry and exit, especially in larger pools.

Advisory 242.2 Swimming Pools Exception 1. Pool walls at diving areas and areas along pool walls where there is no pool entry because of landscaping or adjacent structures are to be counted when determining the number of accessible means of entry required.

242.4 Spas. At least one accessible means of entry shall be provided for spas. Accessible means of entry shall comply with swimming pool lifts complying with1009.2; transfer walls complying with 1009.4; or transfer systems complying with 1009.5.

EXCEPTION: Where spas are provided in a cluster, no more than 5 percent, but no fewer than one, spa in each cluster shall be required to comply with 242.4.