Additional Pool Lift Information
A copy of the DOJ Final Rule granting the extension can be downloaded at from the ADA website.
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This new legislation was initially passed on July 23, 2010 and became law on September 15, 2010 after being published in the Federal Register. This new legislation requires commercial swimming pools to institute approved means of access for their pools (pool lifts and/or a sloped entry) on or before March 15, 2012 - later extended to January 31, 2013.
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Water slides, spring boards and high dives - all staple members of the community swimming pool - won't be the only pieces of poolside equipment around next summer. Starting January 31, 2013, all public swimming pools in the U.S. must be equipped with assisted entry systems. When this American Disability Association (ADA) compliance law takes effect next January, disabled Americans around the nation will be able to enjoy the health and leisure benefits of public pools. As part of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, regulations of the Accessible Design for Recreational Facilities will require all public pools and spas to be outfitted with an ADA compliant swimming pool lift or sloped entry.
Such pool lifts will be required for public pools (open to the public at any time or receiving funding or revenue from the government or membership dues) greater than 300 linear feet (91.4 m). Pools greater than 300 feet will need two means of assisted entrance, while those less than 300 linear feet will only require one assisted entry system - either a swimming pool lift or sloped entry. For those pools requiring two assisted entries, a transfer wall, transfer system or stairs will be necessary in addition to a pool lift or sloped entrance. Wading pools, wave pools, leisure rivers and spas will also need a lift, sloped entry, transfer wall or transfer system.
- The pool lift must not be located in water deeper than 48 inches (121.9 cm), with these exceptions only:
- The entire pool is deeper than 48 inches
- There exists another pool lift where the water is not deeper than 48 inches
- When raised, the center of the lift seat must be located over the pool deck 16 inches (40.6 cm) from the edge of the pool to give individuals enough space to move safely from lift to pool and pool to lift.
- The deck space between the center of the seat and pool's edge must not exceed a slope of 1:48 to ensure wheelchairs and walkers do not roll away.
- The deck space on the side of the lift opposite the pool must be a minimum of 36 inches (91.4 cm) wide and extend at least 48 inches (121.9 cm) from a line 12 inches (30.5 cm) behind the back of the lift seat to ensure enough room for safe wheelchair transfer. This deck space must be parallel with the seat and again, have a slope no steeper than 1:48.
- Lifts must have a solid seat and footrests. Sling styles are no longer compliant.
- The height of the pool lift seat (from the deck to the top of the raised seat surface) must allow a stop at 16 inches (40.6 cm) minimum and 19 inches (48.3 cm) maximum to accommodate the needs of both adults and children in a standard wheelchair.
- Pool lift seats must be a minimum of 16 inches (40.6 cm) wide.
- Lifts in swimming pools shall have footrests that move with the seat, but footrests are not mandatory for lifts used in spas.
- Any armrest on the side of the pool lift opposite the water must be removable or able to fold out of the way to make sure transfer from wheelchair to lift and back is easy.
- Lifts shall be capable of being operated from the deck and from the water at all times, and operating devices must be unobstructed when the lift is in use to ensure swimmers are not stranded in the pool and multiple individuals may use the lift in a single swimming session.
- Manual rotating and hand-crank lift operators are no longer compliant and should be replaced.
- The seat of a swimming pool lift must be able to submerge to a minimum of 18 inches (45.7 cm) below the stationary water level to ensure that natural buoyancy aids in getting an individual from the lift to the water.
- Single person pool lifts are required to have a minimum weight capacity of 300 pounds (136 kg) and be able to sustain a static load of at least one and a half times the rated load. This regulation guarantees that lifts can accommodate a majority of the population.
Manufacturers often refer to “ADA-compliant,” “ADA Approved,” “certified” or “verified” pool lifts. What does this mean, and how can you ensure that you are getting a lift that truly meets the ADA requirements for your pool?
To begin with, the ADA does not approve any device designed to provide accessibility to any facility. There is no governmental or outside agency who is licensed to test any products for ADA compliance and designate them as ADA Approved. This wording is misleading and may lead to obtaining a product that may not actually make your facility accessible.
In the case of swimming pools, accessibility is a process that involves both the specific pool combined with a means of access (pool lift, etc.). Not every means of access will make every pool accessible as required by the ADA guidelines. For pool lifts, there are specific requirements for the lifts themselves, such as seat width and lifting capacity, but there are also requirements that are unique to each installation that will determine if a particular lift will make that pool accessible. See Table 1 for a brief description of each requirement.
Here are some examples to provide clarification:
1. Pool Lift A meets all the pool lift specific ADA requirements and has an arm reach of 30”. The swimming pool purchasing the lift has a deck to water distance of 15”. The minimum distance that a lift needs to submerge the user into the water is 18”, Pool Lift A does not meet the ADA requirements for this pool because the 15” deck to water distance plus the 18” minimum equals 33”. The arm is not long enough. This pool combined with this lift is not ADA compliant. However, Pool Lift B meets all the pool lift specific ADA requirements and has an arm reach of 35”. This pool lift on this swimming pool would make the pool ADA compliant.
2. A pool lift that meets all of the pool specific requirements is located next to a wall without enough clear deck space adjacent to the lift to meet the clear deck space requirement. Even though the lift itself meets all of the pool specific specifications, this would not be an ADA compliant installation.
Requirement* Pool Specific Pool Lift Specific
Water depth at point of lift entry is no more than 48”. •
When over the deck, the centerline of seat is at least 16” from •
the edge of the pool.
There is 36” of clear deck space to the side parallel with the lift seat. •** •**
Seat is 16”-19” from the deck to the top of the seat surface. •
Seat is at least 16” wide. •
There are footrests that move with the seat. •
Armrests (optional) are removable or fold clear of the seat to allow •
the user to easily load the lift.
The lift is user operable from the deck and water. •
The seat submerges at least 18” into the water. •*** •***
Lifting capacity is at least 300 pounds. •
Compliant, Certified and Verified
When a manufacturer refers to a pool lift as “ADA-compliant,” this can only refer to the pool lift specific requirements as shown in Table 1. Since the configuration of every pool will vary, it is impossible to guarantee that a pool lift will be compliant in every situation, even if it fulfills all of the pool lift specific requirements.
Some manufacturer’s may have a third party verify that their lifts are ADA-compliant, but again, this is only verification of the pool lift specific elements, such as: seat width and height, the presence of a footrest, that the lift is self-operable by the user, and that they lifting capacity is over 300 pounds. Even “third party verified” lifts will not make every single pool ADA-compliant because of variable factors of each individual pool.
Ultimately, the responsibility of ensuring that a pool lift meets the ADA requirements falls on the consumer. Using the information contained in this document will help to make the selection process easier and less confusing.