Aquatics Blog

What does the ADA require for pool access?

According to the American Disabilities Act (ADA), every pool must have at least two means of ADA access. There are three main means of ADA access that can be considered for pool design:  a fixed pool lift, ramp entry and stair entry. Counsilman-Hunsaker’s standard approach to meeting ADA guidelines is to design our pools with two means of access.  The first means of access is a fixed pool lift on deck required by the Department of Justice.  With multiple pool lift manufacturers, there are many options available.

Our second option is to use a ramp entry. A ramp entry tends to take up a lot of valuable space in the pool. It requires a one to twelve slope and a five-foot landing zone at either a 24-inch or 30-inch water depth. It will also need to be 38 inches wide from handrail to handrail to allow for a wheelchair to pass through. Depending on the depth of the pool, the ramp could be as long as 47 feet. You can shorten this length by adding a switch back at the 18-inch or 24-inch deep landing zone. By doing this, the total width of the ramp could become 8’-4” or 9’-4” if you add a wing wall to separate the ramp from the rest of the pool. Depending on the venue of the pool being designed, a ramp entry might be a must, especially in therapeutic or rehabilitation centers, where most of the users will be in a wheelchair.handicap lift

On the other hand, an ADA stair entry, which is our third option, takes literally no space at all if the pool is already designed with stairs. To make them ADA-compliant, an additional handrail would be added to the stairs 24 inches off of one of the side handrails. Other than the pool lift, this is the easiest option to comply with the ADA since most pool are designed with a stair entry. Cost-wise, it is a lot less expensive to construct a stair entry than it is to construct a ramp entry.

With the options that we have available to meet the ADA requirements, Counsilman Hunsaker’s typical approach is the option of one lift and an ADA stair entry to meet the requirements. If we are designing a pool for a venue that is for rehabilitation or therapeutic uses, we would design the pool with a pool lift and an ADA ramp entry. By adding in a stair entry with ADA-spaced hand rails, we have covered all three means of access.


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