ADA Awareness, Compliance & Programs

swimmersAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 56.7 million people in the United States with a disability in 2010. That represents 19 percent—nearly one-fifth—of the population. This includes both physical and mental impairments that have an impact on major life activities.

Also in 2010, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards were updated with new requirements for swimming pools. As stated on the website, "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 accessible."

Broadly speaking, the requirements cover commercial swimming pools, including public pools run by municipalities and school districts, as well as private pools, such as those in hotels. The rules require that pools with more than 300 linear feet of wall need to include two means of access, one of which must be a fixed pool lift or sloped entry. Pools with less than 300 linear feet of wall only require a single means of access, but that must be a lift or sloped entry.

Eight years later, awareness of the requirements, as well as compliance with the rules, is high, according to data collected in our Aquatics Industry Report.

The vast majority of respondents to the report (93.8 percent) said they are aware of the ADA requirements for swimming pools. Only 1.9 percent said they were not aware, while 4.3 percent said they were unsure of the requirements. (See Figure 1.)

ADA Awareness


Of course, awareness is not the same thing as compliance, and slightly fewer respondents—87.1 percent—reported that their facilities are currently in compliance with the ADA requirements for pools. Another 6.1 percent said their facilities are not in compliance, while 6.8 percent were unsure. (See Figure 2.)

ADA Compliance


Respondents from colleges and universities, and from parks and recreation organizations were the most likely to report that their facilities are currently in compliance with ADA standards. Some 90.9 percent of college respondents and 90.8 percent of parks respondents said they are currently in compliance. They were followed by those from Ys (89.1 percent of whom were in compliance) and community sports and recreation centers (86.9 percent). By comparison, 79 percent of schools respondents and 67.6 percent of camp respondents said their facilities are currently in compliance with ADA requirements for swimming pools.

Of course, simply providing access to the water for people with disabilities is only one step toward fully inclusive aquatics. Programming provides another way to reach out to this audience and encourage participation in aquatic activities.

Some 38.9 percent of aquatic respondents said that they currently provide programs for those with physical disabilities at their aquatic facilities. Another 30.5 percent said they currently provide programs for those with developmental disabilities. (See Figure 3.)



Looking forward, nearly one-quarter (23.1 percent) of respondents who plan to add programs at their facilities said they would be adding programming for patrons with physical disabilities, and 20.5 percent said they would be adding programs for those with developmental disabilities.


This report is based on a survey conducted for Recreation Management by Signet Research Inc., an independent research company. An e-mail was broadcast and respondents were invited to participate. From the launch of the survey on Dec. 12, 2017, to the closing of the survey on Jan. 2, 2018, 1,194 returns were received. The findings of this survey may be accepted as accurate, at a 95 percent confidence level, within a sampling tolerance of approximately +/- 2.8 percent.