The Justice Department released two technical assistance documents today regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to swimming pools. The documents can be found at www.ada.gov//qa_existingpools_titleIII.htm and www.ada.gov/pools_2010.htm.
Many people with disabilities could benefit from the social, recreational and exercise benefits of swimming. However, until September 2010, there were no accessibility standards for swimming pools under the ADA. In September 2010, the department issued a regulation providing accessibility requirements for swimming pools. The rules were originally set to become effective on March 15, 2012. Newly constructed and altered pools must be fully accessible to people with disabilities as of March 15, 2012, by providing pool lifts, sloped entries, or other specified accessibility features. However, many pool owners had misunderstandings about how to apply the new accessibility requirements to pre-existing pools. Therefore, the department has extended the compliance date for existing pools to Jan. 31, 2013.
In its continuing effort to be responsive to both pool owners and the disability community, the department has now issued a technical assistance document addressing 19 common questions about accessibility requirements for existing pools. The document emphasizes the application of the requirement that pool owners remove accessibility barriers to the extent it is readily achievable to do so. The document explains, “Readily achievable means that it is easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense. This is a flexible, case-by-case analysis, with the goal of ensuring that ADA requirements are not unduly burdensome, including to small businesses.”
Recognizing that some pool owners who attempted to comply with the rule before the original compliance date mistakenly believed that portable lifts were generally acceptable, the department also provides that it will not enforce the fixed elements of the 2010 standards against those owners of existing pools who purchased otherwise-compliant portable lifts prior to March 15, 2012, as long as those owners keep the lifts in position for use at the pool and operational during all times that the pool is open to guests.
Significant tax credits and deductions are available to help businesses of all sizes offset any costs of ADA compliance. The department is committed to providing technical assistance and education to ensure that covered entities and people with disabilities understand their rights and responsibilities under the ADA. The department has offered two live webinars on pool accessibility. Additional information about the ADA’s requirements, including the 2010 ADA standards, is available on the department’s ADA website at www.ada.gov. ADA specialists are also available on the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice); 800-514-0383 (TTY). Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. EDT, except on Thursday, when the hours are 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.