A major element in managing public pools over the last
several years has been the challenge of complying with new provisions of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, which were added in 2010 to help provide
disabled persons equal access to recreational facilities across the country.
In 2012 the Justice Department issued guidelines
to help proprietors of hotels, recreation
centers and other public facilities that feature swimming pools fall in line
with ADA requirements. Now that it's been well over a year since the deadline for compliance, fines associated with breaking these guidelines have increased. Fines for first-time violations have increased from $55,000 to $75,000,
and subsequent violations are subject to $150,000 fees.
So what is involved in ADA compliance from a pool operator’s
Who must comply?
Public pools, hotels, resorts, swim clubs, and any site of events open to the public.
- Businesses are obligated to provide lift access to new pools.
- Existing pools must provide handicap access unless doing so would result undue financial and administrative burden.
- Swimming pools with more than 300 linear feet of
pool wall are required to provide two means of entry and exit, one of
which must be a fixed pool lift or sloped entry.
- Smaller pools are only required to have one handicap accessible entry/exit - either a pool lift or sloped entry.
- Spas must have at least one accessible means of entry.
- Public wading pools and spas are
covered by the new regulations as well.
What are the guidelines?
- Owners must also ensure that a pool lift is operational and in
place when their pool is open, not just when requested by a disabled individual.
- The pool lift must be located at the proper water depth and the pool deck must have clear space at a minimum of 5' x 5' at the base of the pool lift to accommodate a wheelchair.
- The pool lift must be capable of unassisted operation from both the deck and the water, which does not absolve owners of the responsibility to provide help as needed .
What are the exceptions?
- Compliance must be "readily achievable," meaning that businesses would not be unduly burdened financially by providing lift access.
- Due to confusion by some pool operators whether a portable pool lift would comply, portable lifts purchased before March 2012 is acceptable for use as long as it can be affixed to the pool deck.
The government has vowed to maintain cooperative
relationships with pool owners, answering common questions
and attempting to treat each situation as unique.
Still, the increase in fines makes it clear that extra
attention is being paid to ensuring ADA compliance.
Have questions about ADA compliance or need help picking our the right pool lift? We're here to help! Feel free to comment below and we'll do everything we can to get you the info you need!