If you do a lot of traveling, you’re likely to see a lot of hotel pools and spas. As of May 15, 2012 you’ll see a new addition alongside these pools and spas – motorized pool lifts and ramps. The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed into law by George Bush in 1990, will now expand to a broad section of public swimming pools to insure accessibility for people with disabilities.
The ADA is comprised of five titles, two of which are important in this case – Titles 2 and 3.
Title II prohibits disability discrimination by all public entities at the local (i.e. school district, municipalities, and cities, county) and state levels. Public entities must comply with Title II regulations. These regulations cover access to all programs and services offered by the entity. Access includes physical access as described in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design and program access that might be obstructed by discriminatory policies or procedures of the entity.
Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services and facilities of any place of public accommodation. “Public accommodations” include, among other things, most places of lodging (such as inns and hotels) and recreation facilities.
What this means is that all public swimming pools in the U.S. must be fitted with assisted entry systems when this ADA compliance law takes effect next May. As part of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, regulations of the Accessible Design for Recreational Facilities will require all public pools and spas to have an ADA compliant swimming pool lift or sloped entry.
Public pools greater than 300 linear feet will be required to have at least two means of assisted entrance , while smaller pools will require only one. What exactly qualifies as a means of assisted entrance? For those pools requiring two assisted entries, a transfer wall, transfer system or stairs will be necessary in addition to a pool lift or sloped entrance. Wading pools, wave pools, leisure rivers and spas will also need a swimming pool lift, sloped entry, transfer wall or transfer system.
All ADA compliant swimming pool and spa lifts are required to strictly follow guidelines in accordance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. To view the complete list, visit http://www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/ada-standards-doj.cfm#a1009.
Or, read below for a list of key regulations:
• The pool lift cannot be used at a depth greater than 48 inches (121.9 cm), with these exceptions only:
o The entire pool is deeper than 48 inches
o There exists another pool lift where the water is not deeper than 48 inches
• When raised, the center of the lift seat must be located over the pool deck 16 inches (40.6 cm) from the edge of the pool to provide room to move safely from lift to pool and pool to lift.
• To avoid wheelchairs and walkers rolling away, the deck space from the center of the lift seat and the pool’s edge cannot exceed a slope of 1:48.
• The deck space on the side of the lift opposite the pool must be at least 36 inches (91.4 cm) wide and extend at least 48 inches (121.9 cm) from a line 12 inches (30.5 cm) behind the back of the lift seat to ensure enough room for safe wheelchair transfer. This deck space must be parallel with the seat and again, have a slope no steeper than 1:48.
• Sling styled seats are no longer compliant, lifts are required to have a footrest and a solid seat
• The height of the pool lift seat (from the deck to the top of the raised seat surface) must allow a stop at 16 inches (40.6 cm) minimum and 19 inches (48.3 cm) maximum to accommodate the needs of both adults and children in a standard wheelchair.
• Lift seats must be at least 16 inches wide.
• While footrests are required in pool lifts, those used in hot tubs or spas do not require a footrest.
• Any armrest on the side of the pool lift opposite the water must be removable or able to fold out of the way to make sure transfer from wheelchair to lift and back is easy.
• Lifts shall be capable of being operated from the deck and from the water at all times, and operating devices must be unobstructed when the lift is in use to ensure swimmers are not stranded in the pool and multiple individuals may use the lift in a single swimming session.
• Manual rotating and hand-crank lift operators are no longer compliant and should be replaced.
• The seat of a swimming pool lift must be able to submerge to a minimum of 18 inches (45.7 cm) below the stationary water level to ensure that natural buoyancy aids in getting an individual from the lift to the water.
• Single person pool lifts are required to have a minimum weight capacity of 300 pounds (136 kg) and be able to sustain a static load of at least one and a half times the rated load. This regulation guarantees that lifts can accommodate a majority of the population.
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