ADA Regulations for Aquatics Facilities
The DOJ has announced a 9-month extension for facilities to comply with the accessible means of entry guidelines for existing swimming pools and spas.
The extension pushes the compliance deadline to January 31, 2013
The DOJ had previously announced a 60-day extension to this deadline.
In late February, the Department of Justice released a letter clarifying its position on portable lifts. This interpretation differs from some industry professionals had anticipated and may present new compliance challenges for operators.
All waterpark operators should be aware that the compliance rules outlined in the 2010 ADA Standards are fully in effect at this time.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued its final revised Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and accompanying interpretive guidance in order to implement the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 in the "Federal Register" on March 25th. Read the final rule-making here.
Summary of the ADA Act:
The original Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The law was divided into five subparts but for the swimming pool and spa industry the relevant sections are Public Entities and Public transportation (Title II) and Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities (Title III).
The original enforcement guidelines did not provide accessibility standards for swimming pools and spas. However, in 2004, the Department of Justice issued enforcement guidelines that included pools and spas. At that point they were just that — guidelines — and not law.
In July 2010, the Department of Justice announced its final rule making. The revised regulations were then published in the Federal Register on September 16, 2010 and are now in effect. Parks should draft a compliance plan and complete all upgrades required no later than March 15, 2012 and sooner, if possible.
Listen to the WWA's Webinar Wednesday program on this new regulations: "What You Need to Know About the 2010 ADA Standards for Aquatic Recreation Facilities." Click here to listen to the recording and view the presentation.
Key summary points for aquatic facilities and waterparks:
Swimming Pool, Wading Pool, and Spa Accessibility
The swimming pool, wading pool, and spa guidelines that are now part of the ADA law are virtually the same for both Public Entities (Title II) and Public Accommodations (Title III) facilities.
They stipulate that any swimming pool with under 300 linear feet of pool wall must provide one means of access, and that means must be either a pool lift or a sloped entry. In addition, any pool that has over 300 linear feet of pool wall must provide two means of access, which can be any of the five designated means of access: pool lifts, sloped entries, transfer walls, transfer systems, or accessible pool stairs.
The criteria that each of these means of access must meet can be found in chapter 10, section 1009 of the revised ADA guidelines. Wading pools must have one means of entry and that must be a sloped entry. Spas, both in-ground and portable, also must have one means of entry, which can be either a lift, transfer wall, or transfer system. The specific requirements that swimming pools, wading pools and spas must meet can be found in chapter 2, section 242 of the revised ADA guidelines.
Run-out pools for waterslides are not covered by these new ADA regulations.
There are some exceptions from the accessibility guidelines. Title II facilities can be excluded if they can prove that modifications would significantly alter the historic nature of the building. They could also be excused if they could demonstrate that making such modifications would create undue financial hardship for the facility. Title III facilities can be excluded if they can demonstrate that reasonable accommodations are not readily achievable. However, the Department of Justice has made it very clear that, given the flexibility and cost of a pool lift, it would be very difficult for any entity to escape their responsibility to provide access to a swimming pool.
ADA regulations are enforced directly and indirectly. Most direct enforcement is a result of civil lawsuits initiated by a plaintiff who sues for non-compliance. If the plaintiff prevails, the court usually issues a court order that requires the defendant to remedy the violation, and attorney’s fees for the plaintiff. There are generally no monetary awards provided to the victorious plaintiff.
It is expected that many states will adopt the latest guidelines into their state or local building codes.
To read more about the new regulations visit these links below, which are available on the ADA web site at www.ada.gov:
To download the Access Board accessibility guidelines, click the link:
Highlights of the Final Rule to Amend the Department of Justice's Regulation Implementing Title II of the ADA:
Highlights of the Final Rule to Amend the Department of Justice's Regulation Implementing Title III of the ADA:
Adoption of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design: http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/factsheets/2010_Standards_factsheet.html
To read a FAQ sheet provided by APSP, click here.
To read a summary of how the ADA Act applies to small businesses, click here.
For additional information or to order copies of any documents, call the ADA Information Line (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).
For technical assistance on the guidelines for swimming pools, wading pools, and spas is available from the Access Board at (800)-872-2253 (voice), (800)-993-2822 (TTY) or email email@example.com
To download the entire 2010 ADA Standard, click the link below: