In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) adopted the 2010 Americans with Disability Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design. The standards provide for accessibility requirements that must be put into place for local government facilities. The deadline for compliance with the new requirements is March 15, 2012.

Of most interest to cities are the mandatory accessibility requirements for new or existing public swimming pools. Under the ADA standards, all public swimming pools with 300 or more linear feet of pool wall must have at least two accessible means of entry, with at least one of the means of entry being either a pool lift or a sloped entry to the pool (other accessible means of entry include transfer walls, transfer systems, and accessible pool stairs). (Note: All public swimming pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall must have at least one accessible means of entry that is either a pool lift or a sloped entry.) All accessible means of entry options must meet the criteria prescribed by the ADA standards.

Only a few, very limited exceptions would excuse a city from compliance with the new standards. These include an exception for “structural impracticability,” which the DOJ defines as “those rare circumstances when the unique characteristics of terrain prevent the incorporation of accessibility features,” as well as an exception if the required alterations would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the facility.

Cities that operate public swimming pools should take action to ensure they are in compliance with the new ADA standards. To access the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, go to

Update:  On March 15, 2012, the U.S. attorney general signed a 60-day deadline extension for compliance with the ADA standards.  The attorney general also signed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on whether a 180-day extension of the deadline is needed to allow pool operators to comply with the standards. 

To access the rule extending the deadline, or the proposed rulemaking on the 180-day extension, go to  TML staff will report on future developments.

TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.

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