Fewer than 75 days remain for aquatic facility operators to become compliant with provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding access to public pools and spas. Last May, the U.S. Department of Justice extended the deadline from March 15, 2012, to Jan. 31, 2013.
For pools less than 300 linear feet in size, the ADA Standard for Accessible Design calls for one means of access, which must be either an ADA-compliant lift or a sloped entry. Pools with greater than 300 linear feet of pool wall must also have a second means of access — either another lift or ramp, or a transfer wall, a transfer system or pool stairs. Estimates have placed the number of pools that need to be brought into compliance at approximately 100,000, thereby helping earn the provision the nickname "poolmageddon." A backlog of orders at lift-manufacturing facilities was said to have been a primary reason for multiple deadline extensions.
Local governing bodies have been busy approving the purchase of lifts in recent months, but not all pool operators appear to have made up their minds yet about whether to comply with the regulations. "Is it worth spending thousands of dollars to put Band-Aids on the pool in hopes that we'll get another few months or another few years?" Merrill (Wis.) parks and recreation director Dan Wendorf asked the Wausau Daily Herald last month, referring to a the city's aging outdoor pool. "We're using taxpayer dollars, and we have to use them wisely." He added that the money required to make the old pool compliant might be better off put toward developing a new facility.
Last year, the DOJ issued a sheet of questions and answers that addresses some of the common areas of confusion regarding the regulation, and a five-page Technical Assistance Document outlining the reasons for the ADA regulations also explains which pools need to be made accessible and defines "readily achievable barrier removal."
For even more information on complying, click here and here.