It is now past Labor Day and if you are a hotel or motel owner outside of the warmer climates, you are likely running through your checklist to prepare your swimming pools for winter. This year you will need to add “ADA Compliance” to your list of annual checks. As of January 1, 2013, swimming pools that are public accommodations (e.g. pools that can be used by the public or by hotel/motel guests) must ensure accessible means of entry for the disabled. Unless your pool has permissible sloped entries into the water, this will require the installation of “pool lifts.” These pools lifts must be fixed (not removable). Removable pools lifts, which were permissible under older ADA regulations, will no longer be allowed after January 1, 2013.
If you need to install a fixed pool lift, the ADA has provided a list of technical specifications for businesses. Although not a substitute for a thorough review of the ADA’s pool regulations, the checklist below may help you achieve compliance when installing a pool lift:
- Pools with more than 300 linear feet of pool wall must have at least two accessible entry points. Pools with less than 300 linear feet must have at least one accessible entry point.
- The water level at the location of the lift cannot exceed 48 inches.
- In the raised position, the centerline of the lift seat must be located over the deck and at least 16 inches from the edge of the pool.
- The slope ratio of the deck surface between the centerline of the lift seat and the pool edge cannot exceed 1:48.
- There must be clear deck space parallel with the lift seat on the side opposite the water.
- The lift seat must allow a stop at 16 to 19 inches from the deck to the top of the seat surface when the lift is in the raised position.
- The lift seat must be at least 16 inches wide.
- The lift must have footrests that move easily.
- If the lift has armrests, the armrest opposite the water must be removable, or fold clear of the seat when the lift is in the raised position.
- An individual swimmer must be able to operate the lift unassisted from both the deck and water levels.
- The seat must submerge at least 18 inches below the stationary water level when the lift is in the lowered position.
- The lift must support at least 300 pounds of weight.
As always, there are exceptions to rules, and some determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. For example, a swimming pool owner or operator may not have to install a pool lift by the deadline if it would not be “readily achievable” for a business based on its size and financial circumstances. Whether something is “readily achievable,” however, can be a complex test and you should consult an attorney about any questions concerning your compliance obligations.
For more information, see the following links:
Accessible Pools Means of Entry and Exit – http://www.ada.gov/pools_2010.htm
Questions and Answers: Accessibility Requirements for Existing Swimming Pools at Hotels and Other Public Accommodations – http://www.ada.gov/qa_existingpools_titleIII.htm