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New ADA Requirements to Affect Recreation Facilities

During the 20th anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Monday, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. Department of Justice has issued final regulations revising Title II and III, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The changes will affect future design of public and commercial recreation facilities of all kinds.

The new regulations will take effect six months after being published in the Federal Register. Eighteen months after publication, compliance with the 2010 standards will be required for new construction and alterations. Complete details regarding the amendments are available at the United States Department of Justice website.

Major changes pertaining to recreation facilities include:

Exercise Machines and Equipment (Sections 206, 236, 1004)

At least one of each type of exercise equipment must be on an accessible route and must have a clear floor space positioned to enable an individual with a disability to use the equipment.

Play Areas (Sections 240, 1008)

Play areas designed, constructed, and altered for children ages two and over in a variety of settings, including parks, schools, childcare facilities, and shopping centers, are covered. Accessible ground and elevated play components, accessible routes, ramps and transfer systems (typically a platform or transfer steps), and accessible ground surfaces must be provided.

Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas (Sections 242, 1009)

Accessible means of entry/exit are required for swimming pools. Such accessible means of entry include a pool lift or sloped entry, and either a transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs. Wading pools must provide a sloped entry, and spas must provide a pool lift, transfer wall, or transfer system. Wave action pools, leisure rivers, and sand bottom pools where user access is limited to one area shall not be required to provide more than one accessible means of entry, either a pool lift, sloped entry, or a transfer system.

Saunas and Steam Rooms (Chapters 241, 612)

Where provided, saunas and steam rooms must be accessible, having appropriate turning space, doors that do not swing into the clear floor space, and, where provided, an accessible bench. A readily removable bench is permitted to obstruct the turning space and the clear floor space.

The revised regulations also apply to additional building areas, including parking lots, circulation spaces, restrooms and assembly spaces.

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