Americans with Disabilities Act

Also Known As: ADA

Enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA prohibits discrimination based on physical disabilities. In 2008, the act was amended, broadening its application. As a result, public pools must now be accessible for those with certain disabilities.

Title III of the ADA addresses accommodation requirements for public and some private businesses. Newly constructed and altered facilities must be fully accessible to those with disabilities. Likewise, barriers to accessibility must be removed when the process is not expensive or difficult.

Newly constructed or altered swimming pools, wading pools and spas require accessible entrances and exits. The law specifically outlines technical specifications. Large pools (pools over 200 linear feet) must have two accessible means of exit and entry, while small pools must have one. These may include a fixed pool lift or sloped entry. In addition, new or altered wading pools must now have a sloped entry, while new or altered spas must have at least one accessible means of entry (a transfer wall, a transfer system or a pool lift).

Private residential pools that are limited to exclusive use by residents and guests do not need to meet ADA requirements, unless the pool is rented or otherwise made available to the community. All community pools that are owned or operated by a state or local government entity are covered by Title II of the ADA. If a pool was build built before January 2013, full compliance may not be required.

The Department of Justice oversees compliance with ADA regulations, offering an outreach and technical support program. Information is available at or by calling 800-514-0301 (voice); 800-514-0383 (TTY).