FAQs: Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas

Wheel chair user standing next to pool splashing pool water with foot

What’s new in the ADA in regards to pools, wading pools, and spas?

The US Department of Justice adopted the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which establish standards for a variety of recreational facilities including swimming pools, wading pools, and spas.

Who is required to comply?

Bona fide private clubs and private residential communities are subject to the ADA title III requirements ONLY IF they are open to the general public. For example, a private condominium association has a swimming pool which is available for the use of residents and residents' guests. Typically, such facilities are not covered by the ADA. However, the association also sells pool memberships to the general public. This activity triggers obligations under the ADA, and the association must address accessibility to the pool, as well as any related areas used by the general public (e.g. public parking, public restrooms at the pool).

When do the 2010 ADA Standards become effective?

Compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards became mandatory for new construction and alterations on March 15, 2012. Additionally, as of January 31, 2013, the new Standards will serve as the benchmark to assess the need for barrier removal or structural improvements to achieve program access in existing facilities.

Note: Title II and title III have no effect on any state or local laws that provide protection for individuals with disabilities at a level greater than or equal to that provided by the ADA. Compliance with less stringent state or local laws, however, does not constitute compliance with the ADA.

Where can the 2010 ADA Standards be found?

The 2010 ADA Standards  can be accessed at the US Department of Justice’s ADA website. The Standards include scoping provision for pools and spas in section 242  and technical specifications for pools and spas in section 1009 .

The Access Board has also published a user-friendly guide called "Swimming Pools and Spas"  that offers helpful information about access to these facilities.

More from the U.S. Department of Justice:

Questions and Answers: Accessibility Requirements for Existing Pools at Hotels and other Public Accommodations
Questions and Answers: Accessibility Requirements for Existing Pools at Hotels and other Public Accommodations 

Revised ADA Requirements: Accessible Pools - Means of Entry and Exit
Revised ADA Requirements: Accessible Pools - Means of Entry and Exit  

Letter to the American Hotel and Lodging Association regarding accessible entry and exit for swimming pools and spas
Letter to the American Hotel and Lodging Association regarding accessible entry and exit for swimming pools and spas

What happens if covered entities fail to remove accessibility barriers when it is readily achievable, or fail to ensure access to programs?

The ADA establishes avenues for enforcement of the requirements of title II and title III.

  • Private lawsuits by individuals who are being subjected to discrimination or who have reasonable grounds for believing that they are about to be subjected to discrimination.
  • The Department of Justice investigates complaints and conducts compliance reviews of covered entities. The Department may resolve complaints through its ADA Mediation Program, or may file lawsuits whenever it has reasonable cause to believe that there is a pattern or practice of discrimination, or discrimination that raises an issue of general public importance.

Are there any tax incentives or credits available for making existing pools accessible?

Yes, please check out:
Tax Incentives

Tax Incentives

Still have questions?

Feel free to contact us.