ADA compliance for commercial pools, spas and wading pools

By Brian Bell November 7, 2013


Commercial pools attract a large demographic, including handicapped persons. It’s essential for pool management services to comply with regulations under the American with Disabilities Act not only because it’s required, but also to accommodate all guests who visit. However, since its passing by the Department of Justice in 2010, the details regarding the requirements have been difficult for facilities to understand. In an attempt to clarify the regulations, the deadline was pushed from March 2012 to January 2013.

Understanding the basics
The ADA compliance regulations are required of all public pools, hotels, motels, recreation centers, health clubs, businesses and public country clubs. Non-compliance may result in $55,000 civil penalties. However, there are certain facilities that are exempt from the rules if meeting the standards is too difficult or too financially draining.

All pools must be accessible to disabled persons either by lifts or sloped entry points. Lifts must be placed where the water level does not exceed 48 inches. Sloped entry points in pools have to extend to a depth of at least 24 inches but no higher than 30 inches below the water line. Handrails for these ramps are required for pools, but not for wading pools. Alternatively, facilities can use transfer walls, where disabled swimmers may enter by the side. These require a platform between 16 and 19 inches on the deck and steps that go into the water. These steps are required to reach at least 18 inches below the water level.

Ensuring compliance
CNN reported that hotel industry officials had not inspected hotel pools for compliance as of February. However, despite the lack of inspection, it is critical for facilities to follow the ADA regulations, not only for compliance purposes, but also to ensure fairness to all guests. It’s a necessary investment that all commercial pools, spas and wading pools should have made unless they’re exempt.

There are many concerns for commercial pool facilities. Managers have to worry about maintenance, safety, developing laws and regulations and more. But one of the most important things to remember is making the site welcoming and accommodating for everyone who visits. The ADA regulations sought to help disabled persons in a basic recreational activity that others may sometimes take for granted. By complying with these rules, facilities show that they care for all guests.