Pool Owners Granted Temporary Reprieve on ADA Rules
The Department of Justice has extended the deadline for compliance with new ADA rules for swimming pools until Jan. 31, 2013. The compliance date extension applies to sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design for existing pools and spas.
These new standards set requirements for accessible means of entry and exist swimming pools, wading pools and spas, including requirements for accessible means of entry for large and small pools.
Section 242 requires that large pools (those with 300 or more linear feet of pool wall) must have two accessible means of entry, one of which must be a pool lift or sloped entry, while the other accessible means of entry might include a transfer wall, transfer system or pool stairs. Small pools must provide at least one accessible means of entry, which must be either a pool lift or sloped entry.
Section 1009 addresses pool lift requirements, including location, size of the seat, lifting capacity and clear floor space, as well as requirements for sloped entry, transfer wall, transfer system or pool stairs.
The standards originally went into effect on March 15, 2011, with a compliance date of March 15, 2012. However, there was much confusion and concern among many pool owners and operators concerning the requirements for title III entities (existing pools that must use the 2010 standards as a benchmark for their ongoing obligation to remove architectural barriers to the extent such compliance is readily achievable), as well as title II entities (existing pools making structural alterations, which must then come into compliance with the 2010 standards). There was some confusion over whether portable lifts would be acceptable in all circumstances (they are not acceptable in all circumstances). Others were concerned that they would be forced to close their pools because they were unable to provide access, though non-fixed lifts—and even no lifts at all—are allowed in cases where the provision of access is not readily achievable.
To determine what is "readily achievable," the Department of Justice refers facility owners and operators to the long-used general barrier removal analysis, which has always applied to other covered elements in existing facilities. This analysis takes the following factors under consideration:
- The nature and cost of the action.
- The overall financial resources of the site or sites involved, the number of people employed there, the effect on expenses and resources, legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation, and any other impact of the action on the operation of the site.
- The geographic separateness, and administrative or fiscal relationship of the site to any parent corporation or entity.
- If applicable, the overall financial resources of a parent corporation or entity, the overall size of the parent corporation or entity, plus number, type and location of facilities.
- If applicable, the type of operation or operations of any parent corporation or entity, including composition, structure and functions of the workforce.
The various misunderstandings that have taken place since the new rules were announced ultimately resulted in this deadline extension. However, in its public statement announcing the extension, the Department of Justice was careful to emphasize that some of the concerns were unwarranted. For example, in response to those owners and operated who stated that they would be forced to close their pools because they were unable to comply by the deadline, to those who are unable to purchase lifts due to a manufacturing shortage, and to those who cited cost of installing a fixed lift as a mitigating factor, the DOJ reminds of the "readily achievable" guideline.
For more information on the extension and the reasons for it, visit http://www.ofr.gov/(X(1)S(povpmm5tlfzclfbyaaohvdhl))/OFRUpload/OFRData/2012-12365_PI.pdf.