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ADA Swimming Pool Accessibility

Is Your Pool Compliant? Bancroft aquatic specialists highlight current ADA regulations, enforcement, and steps to bring your facility into compliance.

On July 1, 2004, the Access Board released a revision to the original ADAAG, called ADAAG 2004. This revision was the culmination of a ten year effort to both address areas not covered in the original ADAAG and to eliminate inconsistencies in the original guidelines. Like any revision issued by the Access Board, ADAAG 2004 was effective only as guidance document for the Department of Justice and had no legal bearing on the public until a final rule was issued adopting the revised ADA Standards.

On June 17, 2008, the Department of Justice issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to formally adopt ADAAG 2004. This notice was followed by a public comment period which ended on August 17, 2008. After considering the public comments that followed the NPRM, the Department of Justice announced their final rule making decision that formally adopted ADAAG 2004 on July 26, 2010. These revised regulations took effect six months following their publication in the Federal Register. Compliance with these regulations was required eighteen months after the date of publication. These revised regulations were published just prior to the end of 2010.

Swimming Pool Accessibility

No accessibility guidelines were provided for swimming pools in the 1991 Standards. Facilities housing swimming pools were covered in the original guidelines and areas surrounding the pool, such as locker rooms, pathways, and the parking lot were required to be accessible. However, no regulations were in place that specifically addressed getting a person into and out of the pool.

In 1994, the Access Board began to work on a major revision to the original ADAAG, primarily to address areas that were not included in the original guidelines. Recreational facilities in general and swimming pools in particular, were included in this revision. In June, 2003, the Access Board finalized and published accessibility guidelines for swimming pools. These guidelines were included in ADAAG 2004, and were adopted by the Department of Justice in 2010.

Swimming Pool Guidelines

The swimming pool guidelines that are now part of the ADA law are virtually the same for both Title II and Title III facilities. They stipulate that any pool with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall must provide one means of access; that means must be either a pool lift or a sloped entry. In addition, any pool that has over 300 linear feet of pool wall must provide two means of access, one of which must be either a pool lift or sloped entry. The second means of access for large pools can be any of the five designated means of access which are: pool lifts, sloped entries, transfer walls, transfer systems, or accessible pool stairs.


ADA regulations are enforced in ways that are both direct and indirect. Most direct enforcement is a result of civil lawsuits that are initiated by a plaintiff who sues an entity for non-compliance. While it is unusual for awards to be provided to the victorious plaintiff, the court usually does provide injunctive relief in the form of a court order that would require the defendant to remedy the violation (along with attorney’s fees for the plaintiff). There is a network of “professional plaintiffs’ who have made a career of initiating such lawsuits under the banner of disability advocacy.

The ADA is also enforced indirectly by requiring compliance prior to receiving licenses, certifications, or grants from prevailing authorities. For example, prior to a local public entity receiving a federal grant, they must provide proof of compliance with a wide array of regulations ranging from environmental mandates to equal opportunity programs like the ADA. In addition, in most municipalities, any new construction or building modification will not receive a certificate of occupancy without meeting all relevant ADA requirements.

State of Illinois Requirements

  1. ADA lift shall be a hydraulic operated, and approved lift;
  2. Construction permit submitted to and issued by State of Illinois;
  3. Plans must be certified by an Illinois licensed architect (AE) or engineer (PE);
  4. Only an Illinois licensed architect (AE) or engineer (PE) can provide an authorized plan of lift dimensions with location on pool deck and proper clearances;
  5. Certified, ADA-approved manufacture product data sheet.

Solution to the Accessibility Compliance

BANCROFT ARCHITECTS and ENGINEERS – Let us help facilitate your compliance

  • Licensed Architects
  • Illinois Registered Professional Design Firm
  • Compliance Experts–IDPH Submission and Approval
  • 40 (+) years of extensive Aquatic Design Experience by our personnel
  • 1200 (+) Facilities Designed, Remodeled and/or Construction Administered
  •  Private – Public – Municipal – Fitness – Recreation – Hotels/Motels – Resorts – Specialty
  • Contact us at (847) 952-9362
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