Large pools must have a minimum of two accessible means of entry. A large pool is defined as any pool with over 300 linear feet of pool wall. Pool walls at diving areas and in areas where swimmers cannot enter because of landscaping or adjacent structures are still counted as part of the pool’s total linear feet.
The primary means of entry must be either a sloped entry into the water or a pool lift that is capable of being independently operated by a person with a disability. The secondary means of entry could be a pool lift, sloped entry, transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs. It is recommended that where two means of entry are provided, they be different types and be situated on different pool walls.
Pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall are only required to provide one accessible means of entry, which must be either a pool lift or sloped entry.
o Aquatic Recreation Facilities
Wave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where access to the water is limited to one area and where everyone gets in and out of the same place, must provide at least one accessible means of entry, no matter how many linear feet of pool wall is provided. The accessible means of entry can be either a pool lift, sloped entry, or transfer system.
o Catch Pools
A catch pool is a body of water where waterslide flumes drop users into the water. An accessible means of entry or exit is not required into the catch pool. However, an accessible route must connect to the edge of the catch pool.
o Wading Pools
A wading pool is a pool designed for shallow depth and is used for wading. Each wading pool must provide at least one sloped entry into the deepest part. Other forms of entry may be provided as long as a sloped entry is provided. The sloped entries for wading pools are not required to have handrails.
Existing wading pools constructed prior to the enactment of the ADA law that do not already have a sloped entry do not have to provide access as if is often not “readily achievable” and cost prohibitive to most of these pools.
Spas must provide at least one accessible means of entry, which can be a pool lift, transfer wall, or transfer system. If spas are provided in a cluster, 5% of the total - or at least one spa - must be accessible. If there is more than one cluster, one spa, or 5% per cluster must be accessible.
Footrests are not required on pool lifts provided at spas. However, footrests or retractable leg supports are encouraged, especially on lifts used in larger spas, where the water depth is 34 inches or more and there is sufficient space.
o Water Play Components
If water play components are provided, they must comply with the Access Board’s Play Area Guidelines and accessible route provisions.
Transfer systems may be used instead of ramps to connect elevated water play components.
Water slides are exempt from ADA requirements.
o Other Accessible Elements
If swimming pools are part of a multi-use facility, designers and operators must also comply with ADAAG and all applicable requirements for recreation facilities. These include, but are not limited to dressing, fitting, and locker rooms.
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