ADA Final Guidelines for Swimming Pools, Wading Pools and Spas

Facility Types

FacilityGuideline
242.2 Swimming Pools

Scoping
At least two accessible means of entry must be provided for swimming pools. Primary means must be a pool lift that is capable of being independently operated by a person with a disability or sloped entry. Secondary means may be pool lift, sloped entry, transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs.
Exception-pools less than 300 lineal feetSwimming pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall must provide at least one accessible means of entry. Means must be pool lift or sloped entry.
Exception-pools with limited accessWave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where user access is limited to one area must provide at least one accessible means of entry. Means must be pool lift, sloped entry, or transfer system.
Exception-catch poolsCatch pools are bodies of water where water slides drop users into the water. An accessible means of entry is not required but the pool must be served by accessible route that connects to the pool edge.
242.3 Wading Pools
Scoping
Wading pools must provide at least one sloped entry.
242.4 Spas
Scoping
Spas must provide at least one accessible means of entry. Means must be pool lift, transfer wall, or transfer system. Footrests are not required on pool lifts provided at spas but are encouraged, especially on larger spas where the water depth is 34" or more or where there is sufficient space.
Exception-spas in clusterWhere spas are provided in cluster, at least 5% in each cluster, or at least one spa must be accessible.

Types of Accessible Means of Entry

Accessible MeansGuideline
1009.2 Pool Lifts
Lift Location
Lift must be located where water level does not exceed 48 inches. Where entire pool depth is greater than 48 inches, requirement does not apply. Where multiple pool lift locations are provided, only one is required to be located where water level does not exceed 48 inches.
Seat LocationIn raised (load) position, centerline of seat must be located over deck and 16 inches minimum from pool edge. Deck surface between centerline of seat and pool edge must have slope not greater than 1:48.

Seat backs, headrests, seat belts and additional leg support are not required but encouraged to allow the lift to be used independently by more users with disabilities and to enhance accessibility to a wider variety of people with disabilities.
Clear Deck SpaceOn side of seat opposite water, clear deck space must be provided parallel with seat. Space must be 36 inches wide minimum and extend forward 48 inches minimum from a line located 12 inches behind rear edge of seat, to enable a person to get close enough to the lift seat to easily transfer. Deck surface must have slope not greater than 1:48.
Seat HeightLift seat must be designed to stop at 16 inches minimum to 19 inches maximum measured from deck to seat top when in raised position.
Seat WidthSeat width must be 16 inches minimum.
Footrests and ArmrestsFootrests must be provided and move with seat. Footrests are not required on lifts provided in spas. If provided, armrests positioned opposite water must be removable or fold clear of seat when seat in raised position.
OperationLift must be capable of unassisted operation from deck and water levels, although assistance can be provided if needed. Controls and operating mechanisms must be unobstructed when lift in use. The operating controls must not require tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist. Controls may not require more than five pounds of pressure to operate.
Submerged DepthLift must be designed so that seat submerges to water depth of 18 inches minimum below stationary water level to ensure buoyancy to make it easier to enter or exit the lift.
Lifting CapacitySingle person lifts must have minimum weight capacity of 300 lbs. and be capable of sustaining static load at least one and half times rated load.

Pool lifts should be provided that meet the needs of the population they serve. Providing a lift with a weight capacity greater than 300 lbs. may be advisable.
1009.3 Sloped Entries
Accessible Route
In general, sloped entries must comply with accessible route provisions with a minimum clear width of 36", a maximum slope of 1:12 and be slip resistant.

Personal wheelchairs may not be appropriate for submerging in water as batteries, motors and electrical components can be damaged by submersion and may contaminate the pool water. Providing an aquatic wheelchair made of non-corrosive materials and designed for water use can help avoid damage to personal wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
Submerged DepthSloped entries must extend to depth of 24 inches minimum to 30 inches maximum below stationary water level to ensure buoyancy. At least one landing must be located 24 inches to 30 inches maximum below stationary water level. In wading pools, sloped entry and landings must extend to deepest part of pool. Per Section 405.7, ramps shall have landings at the top and the bottom of each ramp run and landing clear width shall be at least as wide as the ramp run and 60" in clear length.
HandrailsHandrails must be provided on both sides of sloped entry. Clear width between handrails must be 33 inches minimum and 38 inches maximum. Handrail extensions are required at the top landing but not at bottom landing. Clear width between handrails does not apply to wave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where user access is limited to one area. Handrail requirements do not apply to wading pools. Per Section 505, handrail height must be between 34" and 38" to the top of the gripping surface. Gripping surfaces with a circular cross section must have an outside diameter of 1¼" minimum to 2" maximum. Gripping surface must also be continuous along the length of the rail and not obstructed along the top or sides, free of sharp or abrasive elements with rounded edges and non-rotating. Clearance between gripping surfaces and adjacent surfaces must be least 1 ½".
1009.4 Transfer Walls
Clear Deck Space
A transfer wall runs along an accessible route that allows a person to transfer on from a mobility device to the wall and then into the pool. Clear deck space must be provided at base of transfer wall. Space must be 60 inches minimum by 60 inches minimum. Space must have slope not greater than 1:48. Where one grab bar is provided, space must be centered on grab bar. Where two grab bars provided, space must be centered on the clearance between bars.
HeightTransfer wall height must be 16 inches minimum to 19 inches maximum measured from deck.
Wall Depth and LengthTransfer wall width must be 12 inches minimum to 16 inches maximum to provide enough space for a person to sit comfortably on the wall and pivot to access the pool. Transfer wall length must be 60 inches minimum and centered on clear deck space.
SurfaceTransfer wall surfaces must have rounded edges and not be sharp to prevent injury.
Grab BarsAt least one grab bar must be provided on transfer wall. Grab bars must be perpendicular to pool wall and extend full depth of transfer wall. Top of gripping surface must be 4 inches minimum and 6 inches maximum above transfer wall. Where one grab bar is provided, clearance must be 24 inches minimum on both sides of grab bar. Where two grab bars are provided, clearance must be 24 inches minimum between grab bars. Per Section 609, grab bars with a circular cross section (as they apply to swimming pools) must have an outside diameter of 1¼" minimum to 2" maximum. Gripping surface shall be free of sharp or abrasive elements with rounded edges and non-rotating.
1009.5 Transfer Systems
Transfer Platform
A transfer system consists of a transfer platform that users to transfer from a mobility device and a series of transfer steps that descend into the water. Transfer platform must be provided at head of transfer system. Platform must be 19 inches minimum clear depth by 24 inches minimum clear width to provide the person transferring enough room to maintain balance and enough space to maneuver on top of the platform.
Clear Deck SpaceClear deck space must be provided at base of transfer platform. Space must be 60 inches minimum by 60 inches minimum. Space must have slope not greater than 1:48. Space must be centered along 24 inch minimum unobstructed side of platform.
HeightTransfer platform height must be 16 inches minimum to 19 inches maximum measured from deck.
Transfer StepsTransfer step height must be 8 inches maximum, although shorter heights are recommended. Tread clear depth must be 14 inches minimum and 17 inches maximum; and tread clear width must be 24 inches minimum. Transfer steps must extend 18 inches minimum below the stationary water level.
SurfaceTransfer system surfaces must have rounded edges and not be sharp.
Grab BarsAt least one grab bar on each transfer step and transfer platform, or continuous grab bar serving each transfer step and transfer platform must be provided and must not obstruct transfer onto the platform. Where a grab bar is provided with each step, the top of gripping surface must be 4 inches minimum and 6 inches maximum above each step and transfer platform. Where continuous grab bar provided, top of gripping surface must be 4 inches minimum and 6 inches maximum above step nosing and transfer platform. Grab bars must be located on at least one side of transfer system. Grab bar located at transfer platform must not obstruct transfer. Per Section 609, grab bars with a circular cross section (as they apply to swimming pools) must have an outside diameter of 1¼" minimum to 2" maximum. Gripping surface shall be free of sharp or abrasive elements with rounded edges and non-rotating.
1009.6 Pool Stairs
General
Accessible pool stairs are designed to provide assistance with balance and support in a standing position when entering or exiting a pool. Per Section 504, stairs must have steps that all have uniform riser height, uniform tread width of not less than 11" measured from riser to riser and a slope of less than 1:48. The radius of curvature at the leading edge of each tread shall be a maximum of ½". Open risers are not permitted. Stairs and landings subject to wet conditions shall be designed to prevent the accumulation of water.
HandrailsWidth between handrails must be 20 inches minimum and 24 inches maximum and is intended to provide support to persons with disabilities who are ambulatory. Handrail extensions are not required at bottom landing serving pool stairs. Per Section 505, handrail height must be between 34" and 38" to the top of the gripping surface. Gripping surface with a circular cross section must have an outside diameter of 1¼" minimum to 2" maximum. Gripping surface must also be continuous along the length of the rail and not obstructed along the top or sides, free of sharp or abrasive elements with rounded edges and non-rotating. Clearance between gripping surfaces and adjacent surfaces must be least 1 ½".
1008.2.3 Water Play Components
General
Where water play components provided, play area requirements and accessible route requirements apply
Exception-Cross Slope, Running Slope, Surface RequirementsWhere surface of accessible route, clear floor or ground spaces, and maneuvering spaces serving water play components is submerged in water, play area and accessible route requirements for cross slope, running slope, and surface requirements do not apply.
Exception-Transfer SystemsTransfer systems permitted to be used in lieu of ramps to connect elevated play components.