Skip directly to content

FAQs: Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas

Wheel chair user standing next to pool splashing pool water with foot

Important Notice:

Justice Department Extends Compliance Deadline for Existing Pools Under the 2010 ADA Standards opens a new window
On May 18, 2012 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a final rule, which extends the compliance date to January 31, 2013 for the application of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas (pools built before March 15, 2012).
Posted in the Federal Register:
Compliance date for certain requirements related to existing pools and spas provided by ADA covered entities opens a new window
Compliance date for certain requirements related to existing pools and spas provided by ADA covered entities (PDF)

U.S. Department of Justice

Questions and Answers: Accessibility Requirements for Existing Pools at Hotels and other Public Accommodations opens a new window
Questions and Answers: Accessibility Requirements for Existing Pools at Hotels and other Public Accommodations (PDF)

Revised ADA Requirements: Accessible Pools - Means of Entry and Exit opens a new window
Revised ADA Requirements: Accessible Pools - Means of Entry and Exit (PDF)

Letter to the American Hotel and Lodging Association regarding accessible entry and exit for swimming pools and spas opens a new window

Letter to the American Hotel and Lodging Association regarding accessible entry and exit for swimming pools and spas (PDF)

What’s new in the ADA in regards to pools, wading pools, and spas?

The US Department of Justice adopted the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which establish standards for a variety of recreational facilities including swimming pools, wading pools, and spas.

Who is required to comply?

  • State and local governments (also called “public entities opens a new window”) covered by title II of the ADA 
  • Private businesses and non-profit service providers that are open to the general public (also known as “public accommodations opens a new window”) covered by title III of the ADA

Bona fide private clubs and private residential communities are subject to the ADA title III requirements ONLY IF they are open to the general public. For example, a private condominium association has a swimming pool which is available for the use of residents and residents' guests. Typically, such facilities are not covered by the ADA. However, the association also sells pool memberships to the general public. This activity triggers obligations under the ADA, and the association must address accessibility to the pool, as well as any related areas used by the general public (e.g. public parking, public restrooms at the pool).

When do the 2010 ADA Standards become effective?

Compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards became mandatory for new construction and alterations on March 15, 2012. Additionally, as of January 31, 2013, the new Standards will serve as the benchmark to assess the need for barrier removal or structural improvements to achieve program access in existing facilities.

Note: Title II and title III have no effect on any state or local laws that provide protection for individuals with disabilities at a level greater than or equal to that provided by the ADA. Compliance with less stringent state or local laws, however, does not constitute compliance with the ADA.

Where can the 2010 ADA Standards be found?

The 2010 ADA Standards opens a new window can be accessed at the US Department of Justice’s ADA website. The Standards include scoping provision for pools and spas in section 242 opens a new window and technical specifications for pools and spas in section 1009. opens a new window

The Access Board has also published a user-friendly guide called "Swimming Pools and Spas opens a new window" that offers helpful information about access to these facilities.

What happens if covered entities fail to remove accessibility barriers when it is readily achievable, or fail to ensure access to programs?

The ADA establishes avenues for enforcement of the requirements of title II and title III.

  • Private lawsuits by individuals who are being subjected to discrimination or who have reasonable grounds for believing that they are about to be subjected to discrimination.
  • The Department of Justice investigates complaints and conducts compliance reviews of covered entities. The Department may resolve complaints through its ADA Mediation Program, or may file lawsuits whenever it has reasonable cause to believe that there is a pattern or practice of discrimination, or discrimination that raises an issue of general public importance.

Are there any tax incentives or credits available for making existing pools accessible?

Yes, please check out:
Tax Incentives (PDF)
Tax Incentives (Text)

Still have questions?

Feel free to contact us.