Building ADA Compliant Pools
Read more about what it means to build an ADA compliant pool and how they allow those with disabilities or limited mobility to enjoy the water
Having direct access to a pool is of vital importance for seniors and mobility challenged individuals. This is because aquatic environments offer the ideal setting for a low impact therapy and exercise. In addition, it offers the individual an environment where they can give up their fear of falling. The aquatic environment frees the individual from any ongoing land-based concern in allowing them free mobility to move about in the pool.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enforces specific requirements to provide public accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Because of that, there are specific guidelines for building ADA compliant pools that help meet those obligations under the act.
Lift Entry Point
A basic regulation for building an ADA compliance pool is that the water depth can be no greater than 48” at the lift entry point. In addition, seating must be a minimum of 16” wide and no greater than 19” in depth from the deck to the seat surface top.
To be ADA compliant, the pool must have a primary means of access for the individual with a disability. One compliant option would be to install a pool lift. The seat on the lift must also be a minimum of 16” wide. The lift must also be capable of being operated unassisted and have a capacity weight load of 300 pounds or more. If it has a footrest, it must move along with the seat.
Additionally, when the seat is lifted and submerged into the water, it must be lowered to at least 18” from the level of the stationary water. The lift can be used as a significant assistance for individuals suffering from disabilities when gaining access to the pool.
An additional primary means of access for an ADA compliant pool can be a sloped entry. The sloped entry must have a ratio that is no greater than 1:12, meaning that for every 1 foot of run, the elevation drops at a rate of 12”. To be compliant, the ramp will need a width of at least 36”. Additionally, any ramp that is constructed longer than 30 feet in length must have an intermediate landing.
The sloped entry must be constructed with handrails on each side of the ramp. The maximum distance between the handrails on both sides can be no greater than 38”, and the minimum distance is no less than 33”.
Additionally, to meet full requirements of ADA compliance, the pool must have a secondary means of access that could be either a pool lift or a sloped entry. Another option is to install accessible stairs. To be compliant, all steps will be constructed with uniform riser heights. The risers are not allowed to be open. The tread of each step depth must be at a minimum of 11” and measured from the tip of one riser to the base of the next. In addition, the stairs must have handrails installed on each side, with the distance between both sides ranging from 20” to 24”.
There is a variety of manufactured ready-made lifts available to make a pool ADA compliant, to gain quick and easy access to commercial aquatic facilities.
Enforcement of ADA requirements varies between states. However, any failure to fully comply will be a violation of US Federal law. The ADA compliance requirements to build a swimming pool do not affect existing local and state building codes.
Building ADA compliance pools is not more challenging than building a traditional pool. However, it has specific requirements including a primary and secondary means of access.