ADA Final Guidelines for Swimming Pools, Wading Pools and Spas and Related Components

Has anyone done research on what facilities are and are not required to comply with these regulations?

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Hi Meg, Here's a news story we did about this very subject. Hope it helps. Basically, it applies to all facilities.
Hey Gary- my question is though- many apartment complexes are grandfathered in with the playgrounds and units until a major renovation occurs. does that apply to the pool area as well?
Hi Meg,

With regards to your query regarding which types of facilities are NOT covered by ADA regulations, here is a list:

The ADA does not cover residential facilities.
The ADA does not cover apartment complexes, as these fall under Fair Housing regulations.
The ADA does not cover PRIVATE condominiums. However, condos that actively rent out their units are considered hotels and would be subject to ADA regulations.
The ADA does not cover home owner's associations, unless the common facilities are open to and widely used by the public.

You also mentioned "grandfathering." The ADA refers to this as safe harbor and swimming pools are not subject to any safe harboring, as there were no previous guidelines established for pools prior to the newly released 2010 regulations.

Hope this helps!

John Caden
SR Smith, LLC
John- great info! where is this information located so i can determine which home owner's associations are considered open to the public or not?

thanks for your help again!
Hi Meg,

You really won't find this explicitly spelled out in the regulations. The ADA focuses more on who IS covered, rather than who is not. Title II of the ADA law covers governmental entities and Title III covers public accommodations. The list that I provided to you was generated over the years by asking the DOJ for clarification on specific issues.

With respect to the HOA's, they would likely be considered on a case by case basis. You can call the ADA division of the DOJ for specific clarification at 800-514-0301. In addition, our company has put together a wealth of ADA information on a web site that was launched this week. Please visit and check it out.


John Caden
SR Smith
Where can we find the full definitions of a 2010 ADA Compliant Lift, Sloped Entry, and Stair? We have been building commercial beach entry pools with a 1 to 10 slope which are allowed by North Carolina Pool Regulations. Are these considered a 2010 ADA compliant sloped entry? Most of the pools we build have stairs with a handrail. Do these need to be changed to include 2 handrails 24" apart? Does it require changing 1.9" handrails to 1.5" handrails? If a sloped entry is required for a wading pool that is 2' deep, does the new ADA Regulations meen that a 24' sloped entry has to be added? Most wading pools will be abandoned if that is required.
Hi Bryan,

Here are some answers to your questions:
You can find a good deal of information regarding the requirements for pools using this link:
This booklet provides a fairly thorough summary of regulations and definitions for pools.

As you go through this information, you will notice that beach or sloped entries are an approved means of access. However, the regulations require a slope of 1:12.

Accessible Stairs are an approved secondary means of access and can be used in conjunction with either a pool lift or a sloped entry. Accessible Stairs do require handrails on either side with the width between the rails between 20" and 24".

With respect to the diameter of the handrail, here is the text from the ADA Regulations:
4.26.2* Size and Spacing of Grab Bars and Handrails. The diameter or width of the gripping surfaces of a handrail or grab bar shall be 1-1/4 in to 1-1/2 in (32 mm to 38 mm), or the shape shall provide an equivalent gripping surface. If handrails or grab bars are mounted adjacent to a wall, the space between the wall and the grab bar shall be 1-1/2 in (38 mm) (see Fig. 39(a), (b), (c), and (e)). Handrails may be located in a recess if the recess is a maximum of 3 in (75 mm) deep and extends at least 18 in (455 mm) above the top of the rail (see Fig. 39(d)).
This regulation is actually part of the 1991 guidelines and is not new for 2010.

The regulation for wading pools states that a sloped entry should extend into the deepest part of the wading pool. If the pool is 24" deep, it will need a 24' sloped entry. Handrails are not required for wading pools.

Hope this helps.

John Caden
SR Smith
Thanks. That is good information. However it brought up another question. The ADA Guidlines call for handrail extensions at the top of the stair. Are handrails available with this extension or does it have to be custom ordered?
Byran, Right now, I believe all handrail extensions are done on a custom basis - regardless of the manufacturer. As of now, SR Smith does this as a custom order.

You are right, and by the way good information there on your posts. Also wanted to add that a lot of folks I know, may be in full compliance (sort of speak) when it comes to the perimeter of the pool (around pool area) as far as having access to the swimming pool, once they are inside the building, and on the deck. But the problem they have is accessing the building itself from the outside area (i.e., parking lot or main entry doors, etc).

So some of those general building ADA guidelines currently in place, still need to be followed and addressed. Doesn't help much for a facility to have all the bells and whistles as far as different ways, methods, or points of entry to the water for an individual once they are on the deck, if they can't even make it through the main door of the building, or the building is not easily accessible to all individuals :-).

Tomas Leclerc
Hi Tomas,

Thanks for your post. You are correct, however, the elements that you mentioned should have already been made accessible, as they were covered under the original ADA regulations that were published in 1991. These previous regulations should have removed all barriers right up to the edge of the pool. The 2010 regulations actually get a person into the water.

Thanks again,

John Caden
Does anyone know a contact so I am able to talk with someone with the ADA about my facility?


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