Pacific Update, Summer 2012

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Federal Updates


ADA Compliance Date for Existing Pools and Spas Extended

The US DOJ has extended the effective date for updated ADA requirements applicable to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas to January 31, 2013. DOJ is providing this extension due to confusion among pool owners and operators over their ADA responsibilities in providing access to existing pools and spas. This action allows over an additional 10 months to comply with requirements that otherwise were to take effect March 15 of this year. The extension applies only to existing pools and spas and does not delay implementation of requirements for those that are newly built or altered.

DOJ issued an initial 2-month extension in March and sought information from the public on whether a longer extension was warranted. In response, DOJ received almost 2,000 comments from the public. Respondents favored a longer extension by about a 2 to 1 margin, but many comments against further extension offered compelling reasons not to further delay implementation. As indicated in a published notice, DOJ determined that an extension to January 31, 2013 was justified due to on-going confusion over the obligation to address barriers at existing sites and acceptable alternatives for achieving access.

DOJ's 2010 ADA standards, which are closely based on updated guidelines issued by the Access Board, provide detailed specifications on how to achieve access to pools and spas by lift, sloped entry, and other means (sections 242 and 1009). These standards, which apply to new construction and planned alterations but are also pertinent to access retrofits, only recognize permanent and fixed means of access. According to DOJ, confusion had arisen among pool owners and operators over acceptable means of access into existing pools and spas and whether portable solutions were acceptable. DOJ had indicated in previously issued guidance that lifts or other means of access to existing pools must be fixed, but departures may be permitted in certain limited situations.

Further information on this extension and ADA requirements for existing pools and spas is available from DOJ on its website or its technical assistance line at 800-514-0301 (voice) 800-514-0383 (TTY).

ADA Compliance Date for Existing Pools and Spas Extended

Accessible Pools Means of Entry and Exit

The US DOJ publication on entry to and exit from accessible pools is designed to help title II and title III entities understand how new requirements for swimming pools, especially existing pools, apply to them.

For the first time, the 2010 Standards set minimum requirements for making swimming pools, wading pools, and spas (pools) accessible. Newly constructed and altered pools must meet these requirements. Public entities and public accommodations also have obligations with respect to existing pools. State and local governments must make recreational programs and services, including swimming pool programs, accessible to people with disabilities. Public accommodations must bring existing pools into compliance with the 2010 Standards to the extent that it is readily achievable to do so.

The requirements for newly constructed and existing pools will ensure that, going forward, people with disabilities can enjoy the same activities—a community swim meet; private swim lessons; a hotel pool-at the same locations and with the same independence, ease, and convenience as everyone else.

The 2010 Standards establish two categories of pools: large pools with more than 300 linear feet of pool wall and smaller pools with less than 300 linear feet of wall. Large pools must have two accessible means of entry, with at least one being a pool lift or sloped entry; smaller pools are only required to have one accessible means of entry, provided that it is either a pool lift or a sloped entry.

There are a limited number of exceptions to the requirements. One applies to multiple spas provided in a cluster. A second applies to wave pools, lazy rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools that have only one point of entry. For more information on the specific requirements and exceptions, see sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Standards.

Accessible Pools: Means of Entry and Exit

2010 ADA Accessibility Standards Now in Effect

The 2010 Standards for Accessible Design went into effect on March 15, 2012.  The Standards update the new construction and alterations provisions from the1991 ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) in areas from parking to door widths to paths of travel.  The Standards also address areas not covered in ADAAG such as recreation.

2010 ADA Accessibility Standards

DOJ Updates Guidance for Small Business

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revised its regulations implementing the ADA, effective  March 15, 2011, to clarify issues that had arisen over the past 20 years. The updated Primer for Small Business provides guidance to assist small business owners in understanding how the new Title III regulations apply to them. 

DOJ Updates Guidance for Small Business

Updated Guidance on Service Animals

DOJ updated its guidance document that defines the term "service animal", and outlines the service animal provisions in DOJ’s new regulations that became effective on March 15, 2011.  Highlights of this guidance document include:

Only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.

For ADA training and technical assistance:

1-800-949-4232 (Voice/TTY), email

A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.

Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.

Miniature horses may be allowed as a modification of policy, practice, or procedure.

Updated Guidance on Service Animals

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