FAQ: Physical and Recreational Accessibility

Question:

I thought the compliance date for pools was March 15, 2012. Has that changed?

Answer:

Yes. As of March 15 2012, any newly designed or constructed pools must meet the requirements of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The Department of Justice responded to feedback from existing pool owners and extended the compliance date for existing pools to January 31, 2013. Remember, existing pools must comply when it is "readily achievable" to do so; meaning able to be done without significant difficulty or expense to the overall operation of a business. For more details on existing pool requirements, go to a Department of Justice guidance document at:http://www.ada.gov/qa_existingpools_titleIII.htm

Question:

My hotel purchased a portable lift for its outdoor pool in January 2012. Now I hear that a pool lift must be permanent. Do I have to buy another lift?

Answer:

No. The Department of Justice will allow for the use of a portable lift if it was bought before March 15 2012 and if it meets all of the other required specifications. It must be in place whenever the pool is open for use. The key to compliance for pool lifts (whether marketed as “permanent” or “portable”) is that the lift must meet the technical requirements set forth in Section 1009.2 of the 2010 ADA Standards and the lift must be in place at the pool whenever the pool is open for use (i.e. one lift cannot serve more than one pool).

Question:

I manage an apartment complex. Do we have to install a lift and make our pool accessible?

Answer:

Generally no. Privately owned apartment complexes facilities are not subject to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design unless the complex allows non-residents to use the pool (i.e. an apartment complex sells membership passes to the complex pool to non-residents allowing them to use the facility). Apartment complexes are typically covered by the Fair Housing Act which has its own separate standards. Pools at apartments become subject to the ADA Standards when the pool is made available to nonresidents excluding guests. Also, if an apartment complex is funded by the state or local government, then its pool is subject to the 2010 ADA Standards and will need to be made accessible if the pool is newly constructed or an existing pool altered.

Question:

Our town is renovating one of its fishing piers. Besides having an accessible route to the pier, are there other accessibility concerns we should consider?

Answer:

Yes. Fishing piers are now covered elements in the 2010 ADA Standards. Newly built or altered piers must provide turning space for individuals that use wheelchairs. Also, at least 25% of guardrails or hand railings on the pier must not exceed 34 inches in height and should be dispersed throughout. Edge protection must also be provided where railings or guards are provided. Clear floor or ground space should be provided where these accessible rails are situated.

Question:

When I go to the gym, I have trouble getting close enough to the equipment in my wheelchair to use it. Are there any ADA requirements for exercise equipment at gyms?

Answer:

Yes. With the 2010 ADA Standards, at least one type of each exercise equipment or machine must be on an accessible route and have a clear floor or ground space. This clear space is an area 30 inches minimum by 48 inches minimum designed for a forward or parallel approach.

Question:

I run a small daycare center out of my house. Do I have to work towards complying with these new accessibility requirements for play areas that I heard about?

Answer:

Since you live in the daycare facility, you do not have to comply. However, the 2010 ADA Standards did introduce accessibility requirements for most other play areas for children two and older like those in parks, daycare facilities where the owner does not live, shopping centers, and schools. Any newly constructed or altered play areas must comply with the new standards to the maximum extent possible. Some of the new requirements include an accessible route with an accessible ground surface, accessible play components, and transfer systems or ramps.

Question:

What does the term "readily achievable" mean?

Answer:

It means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."