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How ADA compliance will affect your swimming facilities


Who does it affect?

The 2010 ADA Regulations must be followed by public and private facilities that operate pools, including HOA’s, Public Parks, hotels, sports clubs, country clubs and schools among others.

The law went into effect on March 15, 2011 for new facilities and will go into effect on March 15, 2012 for existing facilities.  However, compliance on existing facilities will be enforced only when an alteration is made that effects the operation of the pool.  In short, if an affected facility makes an alteration that requires a building permit and inspection, then that facility must comply with the new ADA regulations.  Compliance will NOT be enforced by local health inspectors as part of seasonal pool permitting.

The ADA regulations for pools mainly deal with accessibility of the pool itself.  The guidelines require two handicap accessible points of entry for a pool larger than 300 linear feet, and one handicap accessible point of entry for pools less than 300 linear feet.

A handicap accessible point of entry generally means a pool lift or ramp.  The regulations outline accessibility options and a trusted professional pool operator should assist in determining facility specific solutions.

What about HOAs and Private Clubs?

HOA’s and Private Clubs can sometimes be omitted from compliance depending on membership requirements.  If an HOA or Club is only available to be used by its members and their guests, there is no required compliance with the new regulations.  However, if the HOA or Club opens membership availability to non-residents, the facility is required to follow the new regulations.  Private facilities such as residential houses, apartments or condominiums, do not have to adhere to the new guidelines as long as they strictly limit their facility to residents and their guests and do not host swimming competitions or other organized events which allow general non-members to use the pool.

What are my accessibility options?


In order for a pool lift to be ADA compliant the lift must be able to lift 300lbs, have a 16” wide seat with a footrest, be able to operate unassisted from the water or deck, not require tight grasping or twisting of more than 5lbs of pressure to operate and be able to submerge the seat 18” below the stationary water level.


For an ADA compliant ramp, there must be a minimum clear width of 36”, maximum slope of 1:12, be slip resistant, extend to 24-30” below stationary water level with at least one landing at that point, have landings at the beginning and end of each ramp with the landing as wide as the ramp and at least 60” in length and must have handrails on each side.

Stairs and Steps:

Stairs are an acceptable option for an accessible point of entry, but only as a secondary access point if there is also a lift or ramp for that pool.  For pool steps to be ADA compliant, they must have equal rise heights and tread depths, treads should be a minimum of 11” deep, have no open risers, treads not steeper than 1:48 and the width between handrails must be 20-24”.

What about Wading Pools?

For wading pools, otherwise known as “baby pools” that must comply, at least one ramp is required that extends to the deepest point in the wading pool.  Newly constructed pools must adhere to this regulation, but existing pools are to be assessed by each situation, and adherence will not be required if implementing a ramp would be “not readily achievable or technically infeasible,” meaning the wading pool would have to be completely rebuilt and would be a financial hardship on the facility.

The purpose of ADA compliance is to ensure that disabled and aging people have the same opportunities to use pool facilities as everyone else.  In specific situations tax funds and grants are available to help companies with the cost of adhering to the new guidelines.  Overall, following the American Disability Act and its new 2010 guidelines benefits everyone involved and helps emphasize community values.

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by: Dan DeLeo General Manager of Pool Professionals.