American Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Accessible Pools Means of Entry and Exit

The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for title II (State and local government services) and title III (public accommodations and commercial facilities) on September 15, 2010, in the Federal Register. These requirements, or rules, clarify and refine issues that have arisen over the past 20 years and contain new, and updated, requirements, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design ("2010 Standards").


Providing equal opportunity to people with disabilities is the fundamental principle of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This publication is designed to help title II and title III entities understand how new requirements for swimming pools, especially existing pools, apply to them.

People with disabilities were, for too long, excluded from participating in many recreational activities, including swimming. The revised 2010 Standards change that. 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.