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ADA requires public and private entities to be compliant with new swimming pool, wading pool and spa law

As the original Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990, regulations for swimming pools, wading pools and spas were already in place. However, they were not actual laws, only guidelines. Now, the ADA will begin to enforce a new law, which was announced in July 2010, regulating these recreational amenities. This law will provide individuals with disabilities more opportunity to enjoy swimming pools, wading pools and spas, which can be an integral part of exercise routines.

Mid South Pool Builders is committed to assisting facilities that need to become compliant. Here is an overview of what the new law means for publicly and privately owned entities with swimming pools, wading pools and spas.

Click here to read the U.S. Department of Justice’s final regulations regarding new pool requirements:

What types of facilities must comply?

  1. Title II (Public Industry) – Title II prohibits discrimination by all public entities at the local and state level. Examples include school districts, municipalities, cities and counties.
  2. Title III (Private Industry) – Title III prohibits discrimination by any place of public accommodation (commercial facilities). Examples include a place of recreation, a place of education and a place of lodging.

*Exceptions: Apartment complexes and condominiums that provide swimming pools as an amenity under a rental agreement do not have to comply with the new ADA law.

What are the new requirements?

Under the new ADA requirements, pool lifts, sloped entries, transfer walls, transfer systems and stairs are acceptable means of access.

  1. Swimming pool-specific requirements state that pools larger than 300 linear feet of pool wall must have two acceptable means of access, and pools that are smaller than 300 linear feet of pool wall must have at least one. Pools with only one means of access must provide either a pool lift or sloped entry.
  2. Wading pool-specific requirements state that at least one means of access be provided, and it must be a sloped entry that extends to the deepest part of the wading pool.
  3. Spa-specific requirements state that entities that have any type of spa, in-ground or portable, must provide at least one means of access. Facilities with multiple spas in a cluster (adjacent to each other) may provide one means of access on one of the spas.

Click here to read more about acceptable means of entry and exit:


Most of the time, enforcement of the law stems from a civil lawsuit brought on by a plaintiff who sues for noncompliance. Although plaintiffs in these cases are rarely awarded monetary compensation, it could mean large fines on the noncomplying facility’s end.

The ADA also enforces the law indirectly by requiring compliance before receiving licenses, certifications or grants from regulatory or government authorities. New construction may not achieve a certificate of occupancy until all relevant ADA requirements are met.

The bottom line: avoid a civil lawsuit and other complications by becoming compliant before March 15, 2012!

Financial Assistance

In rare cases, facilities can be excused from the law if they are able to demonstrate how the adjustments would create undue financial hardship. The Department of Justice is very clear that it would be very difficult for any entity to get out of the responsibility to provide ADA-approved access to a swimming pool. So, the Department of Justice enacted a tax incentive to offset the cost.

A tax credit is available to businesses of all sizes that remove access barriers in their facilities, provide accessible services or take other steps to improve accessibility to customers with disabilities.

Click here to read the full guide from the U.S. Department of Justice about the tax incentive: Tax Incentive PDF

How Can Mid South Pool Builders Help?

When choosing your equipment, it’s important to consider space availability, location, storage, availability to assist the customer and the overall facility. It’s also important to think about your customers’ expectations as far as basic versus deluxe options and customer privilege of use guidelines for your facility.

Mid South Pool Builders can provide options for each type of acceptable means of access. If you prefer the pool lift option and already have a sloped entry, transfer wall or transfer system, we will recommend the best equipment for your facility’s needs. Or, if you prefer to modify entry and exit points by installing a sloped entry, transfer wall or transfer system, we can assist in designing and building the new ADA compliant features.

If your facility falls into the Title II or Title III categories, call Mid South Pool Builders today, and we will be glad to assist you in making the best choice for your facility.

Please call us at 901-853-6339 or fill out the Pool Consultation form on the right.