DOJ to Industry - Pools and Spas Need At Least One Accessible Means of Entry

By William A. Brewer III Managing Partner, Bickel & Brewer | June 30, 2013

The new regulations establish different standards for pools and spas that depend upon their size. Larger pools, with more than 300 linear feet of pool wall, must have two accessible means of entry, while smaller pools and spas require one. The DOJ also requires that every pool and spa have at least one pool lift or sloped entry, with a minor exception for clustered spas.

Operators using "fixed" pool lifts (which are attached to the pool deck or apron) must ensure that they are in position and ready for use during hours that the pool is open. This means that pool lift batteries must be fully charged and operational during pool hours. Equipment must also permit independent operation by persons with disabilities.

Pools that require an additional means of entry have the added option of installing a transfer system, transfer wall or pool stairs. Portable or "non-fixed" pool lifts are acceptable only if an owner or operator can establish that installing a fixed pool lift is not "readily achievable."

Sharing accessible equipment between pools is not permitted unless it is an undue burden to provide equipment at both. Compliance for new or altered construction is absolute, while existing places of lodging can apply the "readily achievable" standard to determine whether the new ADA standards apply to them.

The DOJ defines "readily achievable" simply as "easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense." Notwithstanding this plain definition, determining whether required action is "readily achievable" involves a fact-intensive inquiry and varies from business to business and sometimes from year to year.

The factors that are considered include:

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