Sports Law • Risk Management

New ADA Swimming Pool Access Requirements

The U.S. Department of Justice updated the Americans with Disability (ADA) Standards for Accessibile Design on July 26, 2010, establishing new requirements for accessibility for public pools. Specifically, one means of access is required for a pool that is under 300 linear feet in size and 2 means of access need to be available for pools larger than that size.

Options for compliance include a hydraulic lift, a transfer platform, a ramp or steps with handrails. This mandate was to take effect on March 15, 2012. However, the American Hotel & Lodging Association lobbied Congress to relax these rules, because the cost and timing challenges associated with compliance have been so great that the 300,000 public pools that are subject to the law have not all been able to obtain the necessary permits, experts, funds, and /or materials to comply. In response to such lobby efforts, the Department of Justice has extended the deadline for compliance to May 15, 2012.

Will 60 days allow all of the public pools the ability to comply with the law? Probably not. Many hotels and other public pools in this economy will not have the funds. Will that mean that they will shut down their pools or will they simply open themselves up to lawsuits? This is the reality of such government regulation. It is very desirable to provide access to all, but by imposing such regulations, access may be denied to everyone.