2012 ADA Pool Lift Regulations

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 in 2012.

Starting May 15, 2012, all public swimming pools in the U.S. must be equipped with assisted entry systems. 

Pool Lift

When this American Disability Association (ADA) compliance law takes effect next May, 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.

1. What constitutes a public pool or spa?
Public pools are those that are greater than 300 linear feet, open to the public at any time or that receive funding or revenue from the government or membership dues.

These pools—if greater than 300 feet—will require two means of assisted entry.  The primary means of entry may either be a swimming pool lift or sloped entry, and the secondary means must be in the form of a transfer wall, transfer system or stairs.

2. What is required if my pool is less than 300 linear feet?
For public pools less than 300 linear feet, only one assisted entry will be required—either a swimming pool lift or sloped entry.

Are there different requirements for wading pools, leisure rivers, etc.?
Wading pools, wave pools, leisure rivers and spas will require a lift, sloped entry, transfer wall or transfer system, depending on their size.


  • Public pool lifts must not be located in water deeper than 48 inches, with these exceptions only:
  • The entire pool is deeper than 48 inches
  • There is another pool lift in the pool where the water is not deeper than 48 inches
  • The center of the lift seat must be located over the pool deck 16 inches from the edge of the pool when the lift is raised to give users enough space to move from lift to pool and back.
  • These pool lift seats must be a minimum of 16 inches wide.
  • The seat of the lift must be able to submerge to a minimum of 18 inches below the stationary water level so that natural buoyancy assists in getting an individual into the water.
  • The deck space between the center of the seat and the edge of the pool must not have a slope steeper than 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 wide.  It must also extend at least 48 inches from a line 12 inches behind the back of the lift seat to ensure enough room for safe wheelchair transfer.
  • This deck space must also be parallel with the lift seat and not exceed a slope of 1:48.
  • 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 minimum and 19 inches maximum to accommodate the needs of both adults and children in a standard wheelchair.

Ease of use and safety

  • Swimming pool lifts will require footrests that move with the seat.
  • Spa pool lifts will not require footrests.
  • Footrests and seats must be solid.  Sling styles will no longer be compliant.
  • 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 transfer from wheelchair to lift and back easy.
  • Single person pool lifts will require a minimum weight capacity of 300 pounds and must be able to sustain a static load of at least 450 pounds—or one and a half times the rated load.


  • Lifts must be capable of being operated from the deck and 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.  This also ensures multiple individuals may use the lift in a single swimming session.
  • Manual rotating and hand-crank lift operators will not be compliant and should be replaced.

Additional Resources

Here is some more information from my friends at SwimTown Pools: http://www.swimtownpools.com/pool-lifts-s/1380.htm

Check out a variety of ADA compliant lift models at http://www.aquaticaccess.com/adalifts.htm

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  • Lynda Strecker

    I am so thrilled to read @ the law that will make it mandatory for all public pools in US over a certain size, to have accessible entry!! I was diagnosed w/MS in 1993 & have only been swimming once at a camp in CT. where a wk. long camp was held for folks w/MS.

    Iwas a really strong swimmer and a lover of summer but for the last 17 yrs. or so,I’ve felt so deprived because of lack of access. to pools. I live in a retirement community w/a pool but no access. They’ve been unwilling to install a lift. This yr. they’ve assessed us 80.00 to bring pool up to standards for health requirements for NY State. I feel i shouldn’t have to pay when i do not have the option to use this pool. I’ve lived here for 10 yrs. and never have been able to use the pool.

    Who deserves praise and heartfelt thanx for this new ruling???? Reading your blog has made my day!!!! THANK-YOU!

  • Rich

    I can certainly understand why travelers would like to have access to hotel pools.
    Our problem as a hotel is the unexpected cost. These lifts are about $4,500 each and it is a financial burden that in this economy where hotels are barely holding on, seems unreasonable at this time. We need an extension. Perhaps when the economy gets going again would be a better time to require hotels to add these otherwise you could have a nice chair lift at a closed Inn.

  • Scott Wheeler

    Thank you for the details on the ADA pool regulations. The website is very helpful. I enjoy the blogs!

  • bill gildersleeve

    the chair lift is bullshit to make you buy one or get fined or closed we are a small motel just getting by the lift cost is to high and never get used we have been here for 16 years and never asked for a lift bullshit