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ADA Pool Lift News, Questions, Answers and Tips

Our Pool Lift Experts

These are the leading experts in the pool industry. SR Smith, and Spectrum Products are key manufacturers of pool lifts. For more information on pool lifts, or to pose questions, join the ADA Pool Lift Group on LinkedIn. Call our office at 651-766-6666 if you need help joining LinkedIn.

Pool Lift Questions, Clarification and Concerns

Question

Are religious organizations exempt from the ADA pool lift requirements?

Answer

Yes and No, Per title III, http://www.ada.gov/taman3.html, religious organizations are exempt if the pool is religiously run and operated. However, if a religious organization rents out the pool, or opens the pool up to the public, then they would not be exempt and would have to comply with ADA pool lift regulations.

Question

Will pools with water slides with designated slide areas need a pool lift?

Answer

If you’re talking about a catch pool for the slide, then no, they will not need any means of access. However, if it is a swimming pool that happens to have a slide, then yes, they will need a means of access.

Answer

According to section 203.11 water slides do not need to comply with the ADA requirements. Also according to 242.2 the catch pools at the end of the slides do not need to be made compliant.

Question

If a location has 2 spas in one pool area, do they need a lift for each spa?

Answer

Yes, spas are included. If spas are in a cluster, only one or 5% need to be accessible. So, if you have 21 spas in a cluster, two will have to be accessible. Under 20, only one has to comply. I haven’t seen too many facilities with 20 spas in a cluster, so pretty much only one spa will need to be accessible.

Question

We have a resort, that is a condo association, that rents cabins. However we have no handicap accessible rentals as all our cabins were built in the 1940s. Do we still need to install a pool lift?

Answer

Without seeing the facility, I would assume that a lift would be needed for the pool. By renting out the cabins to the general public, your facility becomes a public accommodation. Even though the cabins were built in the 40’s, my assumption would be that adding a lift would be readily achievable.

Question

If a location has more than one pool, will they need to leave the lift in place during business hours, or can they move it into place upon a request to use the lift? For example: A hotel with a pool and a spa. Will they need to leave the two lifts in place during business hours?

Answer

The law only requires the facility to have a lift available. The lift does not need to be on the deck at all times during business hours. In fact, some may argue that having a lift on the deck all the time may provide something for kids to play on. My personal recommendation is to provide a lift that can easily be stored when not in use and can then easily be brought out to deck side when needed.

Question

Is it true that all bodies of water need a separate lift? For example a hotel has a sap and a pool, both need a separate lift?

Answer

Actually, each body of water is required to have its own means of access. A spa can have a transfer wall or transfer system as its primary means, so you don’t necessarily need two lifts.

However, under the law, one lift that can be relocated does not satisfy the requirements.

Having said that, I think this will be something that gets litigated over time. If a facility writes an implementation plan and specifies that they feel one movable lift for both bodies of water will meet the requirements, they will most likely not get penalized. At worst, the DOJ would probably just make them provide a primary means for each.

Question

I have had a lot of people saying they are going to be Grand fathered in…? Looking for a deeper understanding I guess.

Answer

The term that the government uses in reference to “grandfathering” is Safe Harbor. Here is the text of a white paper I wrote on the subject that should help to answer your questions. Keep in mind that complying with accessibility regulations for existing facilities is required only when it readily achievable. For more information on that subject, please visit www.poollifts.com and look under the section on white papers:

Safe Harbor

The recently published revision to the Americans with Disabilities Act contains a provision that is known as “Safe Harbor.” There has been some confusion as how this safe harbor provision relates to swimming pools. The purpose of this document is to try to clear up any such confusion.

Following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, the Department of Justice issued its initial set of accessibility guidelines in 1991. These 1991 guidelines covered items that had an immediate impact in removing barriers for people with disabilities. Although elements covered in the 1991 guidelines provided regulations for many parts of society, there were a number of areas that either were not included or were incomplete.

The 2010 revision to the ADA law provided some expansion to the 1991 guidelines and also introduced guidelines to many areas that were not covered in the 1991 version.

In order to ease the financial burden on existing facilities who completed modifications to meet the 1991 guidelines, these new regulations provide a safe harbor with respect to the 2010 requirements. If there is a requirement in the 2010 regulations that is either an enhancement or a change from the modifications made to comply with the 1991 guidelines, an existing facility would not be required to make that change until such time that he made alterations to the facility.

In the case of swimming pools, however, there were no technical or scoping requirements contained in the 1991 guidelines. According to the 2010 regulations, “…the safe harbor provided in § 36.304(d)(2)(i) does not apply to those elements in existing facilities that are subject to supplemental requirements (i.e., elements for which there are neither technical nor scoping specifications in the 1991 Standards), and therefore those elements must be modified to the extent readily achievable to comply with the 2010 Standards.”

The 2010 regulation further clarifies this issue with respect to swimming pools, by providing a list of elements that are specifically not eligible for the safe harbor provision. This list includes swimming pools, wading pools, and spas.

The bottom line is that swimming pools are not eligible for safe harbor and all regulated swimming facilities will need to provide accessibility as outlined in the 2010 regulations.

For more information on this issue or any other areas of swimming pool accessibility, please contact the ADA at www.ada.gov, or visit www.poollifts.com.

Any public accommodation should conduct a barrier removal analysis to determine what, if any, elements within their facility would need to comply with ADA regulations. Once that is complete, the facility should develop an implementation plan that lays out the steps they will take to bring their facility into compliance. If they determine that removing the identified barriers is not readily achievable, this should be explained in their implementation plan. This plan should be written and kept on file within the facility. In the event that any complaints are filed against the facility, this documentation will indicate that the facility has been proactive in recognizing their obligation, despite the fact that implementing barrier removal is not readily achievable. Keep in mind that barrier removal is an ongoing responsibility. What is not readily achievable today may change in the future. The facility should review their implementation plan periodically to make such a determination.

Question

Is there a minimum fine of $50,000 dollars if you don’t comply or are you just leaving yourself open to lawsuits and some sort of action of the department of justice?

Answer

Here is a quote from the ADA website:

The Department may file lawsuits in Federal court to enforce the ADA and may obtain court orders including compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination. Under title III the Department may also obtain civil penalties of up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violation.

Now, the understanding I have is the fines are not likely to be assessed immediately. I think if someone were thumbing their nose at the DOJ, the fine might be a bit more likely, however, if a facility isn’t compliant, the most likely thing to happen is the DOJ require the facility to become compliant. If they don’t after that, then I imagine fines would start being levied.

Question

Who needs to comply with ADA pool lift regulations? Would the following need to comply?

  • Mobile home parks
  • Private country clubs
  • Private swim clubs

Answer

Normally, any type of residential entity would be exempt from ADA jurisdiction. In the case of a mobile home park, if it is a long term facility that operates like a HOA and restricts use of the pool to residents and their guests, they would be exempt from ADA. However, transient parks, that cater to campers and short term occupants, would be treated like a hotel, and subject to ADA requirements.

Private country clubs are exempt. However, there are strict criteria that defines a private club. In addition, the private club must restrict the use of their pool to members and their guests. If the club rents out the facility to outsiders for corporate outings and the like, this would be considered a public accommodation and would trigger the need to meet ADA requirements.

Who Must Comply white paper

Below is the section of the law that defines who is subject to ADA regulations:

II-1.2000 Public accommodations. The broad range of title III obligations relating to “places of public accommodation” must be met by entities that the Department of Justice regulation labels as “public accommodations.” In order to be considered a public accommodation with title III obligations, an entity must be private and it must —

  1. Own;
  2. Lease;
  3. Lease to; or
  4. Operate

a place of public accommodation.

What is a place of public accommodation? A place of public accommodation is a facility whose operations —

  • Affect commerce; and
  • Fall within at least one of the following 12 categories:
    1. Places of lodging (e.g., inns, hotels, motels) (except for owner-occupied establishments renting fewer than six rooms);
    2. Establishments serving food or drink (e.g., restaurants and bars);
    3. Places of exhibition or entertainment (e.g., motion picture houses, theaters, concert halls, stadiums);
    4. Places of public gathering (e.g., auditoriums, convention centers, lecture halls);
    5. Sales or rental establishments (e.g., bakeries, grocery stores, hardware stores, shopping centers);
    6. Service establishments (e.g., Laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, barber shops, beauty shops, travel services, shoe repair services, funeral parlors, gas stations, offices of accountants or lawyers, pharmacies, insurance offices, professional offices of health care providers, hospitals);
    7. Public transportation terminals, depots, or stations (not including facilities relating to air transportation);
    8. Places of public display or collection (e.g., museums, libraries, galleries);
    9. Places of recreation (e.g., parks, zoos, amusement parks);
    10. Places of education (e.g., nursery schools, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private schools);
    11. Social service center establishments (e.g., day care centers, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies); and
    12. Places of exercise or recreation (e.g., gymnasiums, health spas, bowling alleys, golf courses).

The question regarding private schools is covered under section 10. Camps would fall under Section 9.

Question

Will the pool lift manufactures reach a point where it will take a long time to ship orders as March 2012 nears?

Answer

Well, with a limited number of manufacturers and with as many pools that need to become compliant, I would say that would be a very likely possibility. We have been encouraging dealers to encourage their customers to buy early while demand is lower.

Question

Do any states have different requirements than the Federal ADA guidelines for pool lifts?

Answer

The only state that I am aware of that deviates from the ADA guidelines for swimming pool lifts is California. The California Builder’s Code stipulates that pool lifts should include are rests. Arm rests are not required in the ADA regulations.

Question

Do pool lifts need to be grounded?

Answer

Grounding requirements and procedures are subject to local code requirements. Contractors should contact their local authorities to find out exactly what is required in their jurisdiction.

For example, some areas will allow separate grounding rods, while others require the anchor to be added to the existing bonding grid.

Question

It is my understanding, in reading the ADA compliance requirement, that Pools/Spas open to the public are needing to install the lifts and ramps. Am I to assume that establishments that are NOT public do not need to install these new devices?

Answer

In general, any type of facility that restricts use of their pool to members/residents and their guests are exempt from ADA obligations. However, if any of these types of facilities (apartments, condos, HOA’s, or private clubs) allow their pools to be used as public accommodations, they would then be required to follow ADA regulations.

Who Must Comply white paper

Question

Does anyone have photos of anchors for pool lifts being installed that we can share?

Answer

Yes: http://gallery.me.com/johncaden#100167

Question

It appears that all wading pools will need to close or install a ramp. Is this correct?

Answer

No. This is not correct.

Any barrier removal modification must be “readily achievable.” This means, able to be done without much difficulty or expense. In order to provide a safe level of accessibility to an existing, flat bottom wading pool, the entire pool would need to be excavated and re-graded to provide the requires sloped entry. This process would likely cost as much as the original installation, and would not be considered to be readily achievable.

A portable ramp would not be a safe solution, considering the way wading pools are used. Since children frequently run through the water in a wading pool, this type of ramp would be an obstruction and potential tripping hazard.

Keep in mind that barrier removal is an ongoing responsibility. What is not readily achievable today, may change in the future. In this case, if e wading poll were ever relocated to make way for future construction, at that time the pool would need to meet 2010 ADA requirements.

Question

Is there a legal form or process to follow to claim that compliance for wading pools, or other compliance issues, isn’t “readily achievable?” I would think facilities would want to be proactive in regards to this issue.

Answer

Any facility should perform a “barrier removal analysis” to determine:

  1. if their pool is under ADA jurisdiction
  2. what steps are necessary to provide compliant accessibility and if this compliance is readily achievable.

Once this analysis has been performed, the facility should develop an “implementation plan” to determine their course of action. This plan should be documented and kept on file within the facility in the event that any complaints are lodged against them in the future. Having a documented plan will demonstrate that the facility has been proactive with respect to their obligations under the law.

If we take your wading pool to use as an example, the analysis would show that they recognize that their wading pool falls under ADA jurisdiction. However, their implementation plan would show that they have determined that the cost to re-grade the pool in order to install the required sloped entry would cost $50,000 and they cannot afford this level of expense. Hence, in this case the barrier removal is not readily achievable. This documentation should be filed within the premises as a safeguard against any future complaints.

Read the Compliance Guide that we have developed to assist any facility in completing their barrier removal analysis.

Question

What does it take to be eligible for tax credits with ADA pool lifts?

Answer

Read the Tax Opportunities Fact Sheet that summarizes all information.

Answer

Basically, it is less than $1,000,000 in revenue or fewer than 30 employees. There are also tax deductions for most businesses.

Question

It is my understanding that most apartment buildings will not need to comply with the new ADA Pool Lift Regulations. Can anyone back this up?

Answer

This is correct. Unless apartments open their pools to the general public, they will not have to follow ADA. The ADA does not govern residences. Apartments qualify as a residence. They are, however, governed by the Fair Housing Act.

HOA and Condos fall under the same jurisdiction as apartments. If the HOA pool is only used by residents and their guests, they don’t fall under the ADA. The same for condos. However, if the HOA makes their pool available to the public, then they will have to comply. For example, the HOA next to us rents their pool out to various organizations. They will have to comply. Condos that regularly rent to the public, like beach condos, will have to comply.

Answer (Mark Hines)

Also as an example any HOA that has a summer swim team and allows other teams to come and compete at the pool would also have to comply. Or if they open the team up to swimmers outside the HOA.

Question

What thoughts should go into selecting a pool lift brand?

Answer

Some major things to consider are:

  • Company history and reputation — do some research on the manufacturer AND the dealer of the ADA product you are looking to buy. The product is only as good as the companies behind it. Companies that have been around for a long time and have experience or have specialized in ADA products will generally know more about the ADA, build and provide better products and support them better in the field because they have already worked through the typical issues experienced with new products and start up companies.
  • References for both company and product you are interested in. Some of the best information you can find is through your peers.  Independent product testing and/or ADA verification. Any time you can get independent third party verification of ADA compliance, it puts your and/or your customers mind at ease. Experience — look for companies and people (both manufacturers and dealers) that have a lot of experience with the products you are looking to buy.

Question

Are mobile home parks exempt from complying with the ADA pool lift regulations?

Answer

Normally, any type of residential entity would be exempt from ADA jurisdiction. In the case of a mobile home park, if it is a long term facility that operates like a HOA and restricts use of the pool to residents and their guests, they would be exempt from ADA. However, transient parks, that cater to campers and short term occupants, would be treated like a hotel, and subject to ADA requirements.

Private country clubs are exempt. However, there are strict criteria that defines a private club. In addition, the private club must restrict the use of their pool to members and their guests. If the club rents out the facility to outsiders for corporate outings and the like, this would be considered a public accommodation and would trigger the need to meet ADA requirements.

Here is a link to a white paper that explains this subject in more detail:
http://poollifts.com/pdf/whitepapers/WhoMustComply.pdf








In 2010, the Department of Justice published updated regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  These regulations adopted the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards), which, for the first time, contain specific accessibility requirements for a number of types of recreational facilities, including swimming pools, wading pools, and spas.

In January 2012, the Department issued guidance titled “ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Accessible Pools—Accessible Means of Entry and Exit” to assist entities covered by Title III of the ADA, such as hotels and motels, health clubs, recreation centers, public country clubs, and other businesses that have swimming pools, wading pools, and spas, in understanding how the new requirements apply to them.

This Questions and Answers document provides answers to some common questions regarding requirements in the 2010 regulations and Standards as they apply to public accommodations with existing pools.  While the document answers a large number of questions, one of our key goals is to emphasize the flexibility of the standards for existing swimming pools. Three points are especially important. The first is that in response to public comments, we have extended the compliance date until January 31, 2013. The second point is that under the ADA, there is no need to provide access to existing pools if doing so is not “readily achievable.”  Providing access is not readily achievable if it would involve significant difficulty or expense. The third point is that the Department will not pursue enforcement of the fixed lift requirements against those who have purchased otherwise-compliant portable lifts before March 15, 2012 as long as they are kept in position for use at the pool and operational during all times that the pool is open to guests. In general, the Department plans to work collaboratively and constructively with all businesses that have questions about the meaning of the 2010 regulations and standards, with respect for their particular challenges, needs, and concerns, including the needs of small businesses that may be unfamiliar with the ADA.

    1. What is the effective compliance date of the ADA standards for accessible pools?

The effective date of the 2010 Standards generally is March 15, 2012. However, and in response to public comments and concerns, the Department has extended the date for compliance for the requirements related to the provision of accessible entry and exit to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas to January 31, 2013. 

    1. What does the ADA require for accessibility of pools?

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by places of public accommodation, including many private businesses.  Title III requires newly constructed and altered business facilities to be fully accessible to people with disabilities, applying the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  In addition, Title III requires businesses to remove accessibility barriers in existing facilities when doing so is readily achievable.  

The 2010 Standards require that newly constructed or altered swimming pools, wading pools, and spas have an accessible way for people with disabilities to enter and exit the pool.   The Standards also provide technical specifications for when a means of entry is accessible, such as, for pool lifts, the location, size of the seat, lifting capacity, and clear floor space.  You can see the 2010 ADA Standards athttp://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm.   

For existing swimming pools built before the effective date of the new rule, the 2010 Standards provide the guide for achieving accessibility.  However, full compliance may not be required in existing facilities (see question 4).

The 2010 Standards explain whether a newly constructed or altered pool needs to have one or two accessible means of entry and exit.  Section 242 provides that large pools (pools with 300 linear feet of pool wall or more) must have two accessible means of entry and exit. One means of entry/exit must be a fixed pool lift or sloped entry; the other entry can be a transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs.  Small pools (pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall) must provide at least one accessible means of entry/exit, which must be either a fixed pool lift or a sloped entry.  

The 2010 Standards also provide details about what features an accessible means of entry or exit should have.  Specifically, section 1009 addresses the location, size of the seat, lifting capacity, and clear floor space required for fixed pool lifts, as well as the requirements for sloped entries, transfer walls, transfer systems, and pool stairs.  A copy of the 2010 ADA Standards is available athttp://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm.  

The 2010 Standards require that new or altered wading pools have a sloped entry. New or altered spas must have at least one accessible means of entry, which may be a transfer wall, a transfer system, or a pool lift.  See sections 242.3 and 242.4 of the 2010 Standards.

    1. Does a community pool have to provide an accessible means of exit and entry?

Community pools that are associated with a private residential community and are limited to the exclusive use of residents and their guests are not covered by the ADA accessibility requirements.  On the other hand, if a swimming pool/club located in a residential community is made available to the public for rental or use, it is covered under Title III of the ADA.  If a community pool is owned or operated by a state or local government entity, it is covered by Title II of the ADA, which requires “program accessibility.”  See http://www.ada.gov/pools_2010.htm.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EXISTING POOLS

    1. My pool already existed before the effective date of the new rule. What am I required to do to provide pool access to customers with mobility disabilities?

The ADA requires businesses to make existing pools accessible only when it is "readily achievable" to do so.  Readily achievable means that providing access is easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense.  The 2010 Standards provide the benchmark, or goal, for accessibility in existing pools.  (See Question 2 for the 2010 Standards requirements for pools).  However, owners of existing pools need to comply with the 2010 Standards only to the extent that doing so is readily achievable for them. 

The 2010 Standards for pool lifts require lifts to be fixed and to meet additional requirements for location, size of the seat, lifting capacity, and clear floor space.  Therefore, if a business can provide a fixed lift that meets all of the 2010 Standards’ requirements without much difficulty or expense, the business must provide one. If no fully compliant lift is readily achievable for the business, the business is not obligated to provide a fully compliant lift until doing so becomes readily achievable. In addition, the business may provide a non-fixed lift that otherwise complies with the requirements in the 2010 Standards if doing so is readily achievable and if full compliance is not.

    1. Are there any tax credits or deductions to help me comply?

Yes.  To assist businesses with complying with the ADA, Section 44 of the IRS Code allows a tax credit for small businesses and Section 190 of the IRS Code allows a tax deduction for all businesses. The tax credit is available to businesses that have total revenues of $1,000,000 or less in the previous tax year or 30 or fewer full-time employees. This credit can cover 50% of the eligible access expenditures in a year up to $10,250 (maximum credit of $5000). The tax credit can be used to offset the cost of undertaking barrier removal and alterations to improve accessibility; providing accessible formats such as Braille, large print and audio tape; making available a sign language interpreter or a reader for customers or employees; and for purchasing certain adaptive equipment.  The tax deduction is available to all businesses with a maximum deduction of $15,000 per year. The tax deduction can be claimed for expenses incurred in barrier removal and alterations.  To learn more about the tax credit and tax deduction provisions, contact the DOJ ADA Information Line (at 800-514-0301 (voice); 800-514-0383 (TTY).

    1. What if I can’t afford to install a fixed lift in my pool, or it would be difficult to do so?

In that case, installation is not required. If it is not readily achievable for a business to provide a fixed lift – that is, if it would be too difficult or expensive to make these changes – then a business may use other ways, such as a non-fixed lift, to provide access to the pool.  If it is not readily achievable to provide access to the existing pool, even by way of a non-fixed lift, the business need not do so. Nonetheless, it should make a plan to achieve compliance with the pool access requirements when doing so becomes readily achievable. 

    1. What is the difference between a “portable” lift and a “fixed” lift?

The real issue is not whether a lift is “portable” versus “fixed,” but rather whether a lift is “fixed” versus “non-fixed.”  A fixed lift means that the lift is attached to the pool deck or apron in some way.  A non-fixed lift means that it is not attached in any way.  Therefore, a portable lift that is attached to the pool deck would be considered a fixed lift.  Thus, owners of portable lifts can fully comply with the access requirements by affixing their lifts to the pool deck or apron.  They are required to do so if that is readily achievable, except in certain circumstances discussed below. 

    1. How do I determine if it is readily achievable for me to install a lift in my existing pool?

Readily achievable means that providing access 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.  The readily achievable analysis is based on factors such as the nature and cost of the needed action; all the financial, staff and other resources available to the business and any parent entity; and the impact on the operation of the site, including legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.1   Generally, a mere franchisor-franchisee relationship, where the franchisor does not own or operate the franchisee business, will not require consideration of the franchisor’s resources in determining what is readily achievable.

This is the same standard that places of public accommodation have been using for all covered elements of existing facilities since 1992.  Guidance on “Common Questions: Readily Achievable Barrier Removal” is available at http://www.ada.gov//adata1.htm (1996).

    1. I already purchased a portable lift before March 15, 2012.  Can I still use it?

Yes.  If you have purchased a non-fixed lift before March 15th that otherwise complies with the requirements in the 2010 Standards for pool lifts (such as seat size, etc.), you may use it, as long as you keep it in position for use at the pool and operational during all times that the pool is open to guests.  Because of a misunderstanding by some pool owners regarding whether the use of portable pool lifts would comply with barrier removal obligations, the Department, as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, will not enforce the fixed elements of the 2010 Standards against those owners or operators of existing pools who purchased portable lifts prior to March 15, 2012 and who keep the portable lifts in position for use at the pool and operational during all times that the pool is open to guests so long as those lifts otherwise comply with the requirements of the 2010 Standards.  Generally, lifts purchased after March 15, 2012 must be fixed if it is readily achievable to do so.  

If a portable lift was purchased after March 15, 2012, the obligation to remove barriers is an ongoing one. If it becomes readily achievable to attach the lift to the pool at a later date you must do so.  Manufacturers, for example, are providing kits to attach portable lifts.  

    1. I do not have a lift at my pool and it is not readily achievable to provide one now.  Do I have to close the pool?

No.  If accessibility is not readily achievable, the Department recommends that businesses develop a plan to provide access into the pool when it becomes readily achievable in the future.  Because accessibility in existing facilities is an ongoing obligation, a covered entity must provide accessible features when it becomes readily achievable to do so. 

    1. I’ve decided that it is readily achievable to provide a lift, but the lift I ordered is on back order. Do I have to close my pool until the lift arrives?

  No.  A business in this situation should order and install a compliant lift and install it when it becomes available. 

OTHER QUESTIONS

    1. What if I have two pools or a pool and a spa?  Can I share a lift between pools?

In new construction, each pool or spa must provide accessible entry and exit.  For existing pools, whether each pool or spa must have its own lift (or other accessible means of entry) depends on whether it is readily achievable.  If it is not readily achievable for a business to provide a lift at each pool or spa, it does not mean the inaccessible pool or spa must be closed.  In these circumstances, the business should make a plan to purchase and install a compliant pool lift or other accessible entry when it becomes readily achievable to do so. 

Sharing non-fixed pool lifts between pools can pose safety risks to swimmers with disabilities because if a lift has been moved to another pool, a person with a disability might be unable to get out of the pool.  Sharing lifts between pools also requires people with disabilities to rely on staff assistance to find, move, and set up the lift each time.

    1. If I can’t provide a lift at every pool, do I have to close the one(s) that has no lift?

No.  If it is not readily achievable to provide a lift at each pool, the inaccessible pool(s) may remain open. 

    1.  Do I have to leave my pool lift out at poolside when my pool is closed?

No.  Pool lifts are required to be available only when the pool is open and available to the public.  If a pool is closed during the winter months or at night, the public accommodation is free to remove the lift from the pool and store it. 

    1.  Can I store my lift and bring it out only when it is requested by a person with a disability?

No.  A pool lift must remain in place and be operational during all times that the pool is open to guests.  The ADA and its implementing regulations require equal and independent access for people with disabilities for all covered facilities (not just pools).  Allowing covered entities to store lifts and only take them out on request places unnecessary additional burdens on people with disabilities.  People with disabilities have long faced the challenges of dealing with portable accessibility features – e.g., staff are unavailable or too busy to help locate and set up the equipment, the equipment is missing, the equipment isn’t maintained, or staff do not know how to safely set up the equipment.  In addition, the ADA Standards specify that a lift must be located at the proper water depth and with the necessary space around it to maneuver a wheelchair.  Moving a portable lift around raises the likelihood that the lift will be improperly located, making it difficult or dangerous to use.

    1. I think a lift poses a safety risk at an unattended pool.  I also have heard that my insurance rates will increase if I have a lift in my unattended pool. Can I consider safety risks?

The ADA allows businesses to consider “legitimate safety requirements” in determining whether an action is readily achievable, as long as the requirements are based on actual risks and are necessary for the safe operation of the business. However, a “legitimate safety requirement” cannot be based on speculation or unsubstantiated generalizations about safety concerns or risks.  We note that businesses cannot rely on limitations on coverage or insurance rates as a reason not to comply with the ADA. 

    1. I’ve provided a pool lift.  Do I have any further legal obligations?   

Once an accessible means of entry to a pool, such as your lift, has been provided, it needs to remain available and in working condition while the pool is open to the public. Staff should also be trained so they will know how the lift works, where it is located, and how to operate and maintain it.  For example, a pool lift that operates on batteries may need to be recharged periodically.  To be sure that lift remains operable, staff should know how to charge the battery and be assigned to perform the task as necessary. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE 2010 STANDARDS

    1.  What is the Department's approach going to be to ensuring compliance with the new regulation pertaining to pool lifts?

As a general matter, the Department favors voluntary compliance with the ADA from covered entities. The Department seeks collaborative approaches.  To achieve these objectives, the Department has a robust outreach and technical assistance program designed to assist businesses and State and local governments to understand their obligations under the ADA. 

RESOURCES

    1. If I have a question about the new requirements, where do I go?

The Department’s wide-ranging outreach, education and technical assistance program is designed to assist businesses and State and local governments to understand their obligations under the ADA. Additional information about the ADA’s requirements, including the 2010 ADA Standards, is available on the Department’s ADA Website at www.ada.gov. 

If you have questions and would like to speak to an ADA Specialist, please call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice); 800-514-0383 (TTY).  Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM until 5:30 PM (Eastern Time), except on Thursday when the hours are 12:30 PM until 5:30 PM. 

ADA experts are also available to present to conferences and training sessions through the ADA Speakers Bureau.

1 Specifically, in determining whether an action is “readily achievable,” the following factors should be considered:

1) The nature and cost of the action;
2) The overall financial resources of the site or sites involved; the number of persons employed at the site; the effect on expenses and resources; legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation, including crime prevention measures; or any other impact of the action on the operation of the site;
3) The geographic separateness, and the administrative or fiscal relationship of the site or sites in question to any parent corporation or entity;
4) If applicable, the overall financial resources of any parent corporation or entity; the overall size of the parent corporation or entity with respect to the number of its employees; the number, type, and location of its facilities; and 
5) If applicable, the type of operation or operations of any parent corporation or entity, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce of the parent corporation or entity.