On March 15, 2012, facilities across the United States must comply with the revised ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) design standards adopted in the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.
The 2010 Standards set minimum requirements for newly designed and constructed or altered State or local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
I have reviewed the new standards, and they are pretty extensive. Property owners and designers should be aware of some of the changes that will be required when constructing or altering a facility.
The provision requiring accessible means of entry/exit for swimming pools has gained a lot of attention. On March 15th, the US Attorney General signed an extension of 60 days for this particular provision, while also opening up a public comment period.
The swimming pool provision, along with other key new provisions, as taken from the ADA website, include:
2. Recreational Boating Facilities (Sections 235, 1003)
If boat slips are provided at a boating facility, the minimum number that must be accessible depends upon the size of the facility. Accessible boat slips must be dispersed throughout the various types of boat slips.
Where boarding piers are provided at boat launch ramps, at least 5% (but no fewer than one) must be accessible. Gangways that are part of a required accessible route are to be accessible, subject to certain enumerated exceptions.
4. Fishing Piers and Platforms (Sections 237, 1005)
Newly designed, newly constructed, or altered fishing piers must provide accessible routes, subject to the same exceptions permitted for gangways. At least 25% of guardrails or handrails must be no higher than 34 inches and must be dispersed. Clear floor or ground space must be provided at each accessible railing, and turning space must be provided on the pier.
5. Golf Facilities (Sections 238, 1006)
Newly constructed and altered golf facilities must have either an accessible route or golf car passages with a minimum width of 48 inches connecting accessible elements and spaces within the boundary of the golf course. An accessible route must be provided to the golf car rental area, bag drop-off areas, and other elements that are outside the boundary of the golf course. One or two teeing grounds (depending on the total number provided) per hole must be accessible.
If weather shelters are provided, a golf car must be able to enter and exit the shelters. Certain percentages of practice teeing grounds, practice teeing stations at driving ranges, and putting greens must be accessible.
6. Miniature Golf (Sections 239, 1007)
At least fifty percent of all holes on a miniature golf course must be accessible. These accessible holes must be consecutive, and they must be on an accessible route. The last accessible hole must be on an accessible route that connects to the course entrance or exit without going back through other holes.
7. Play Areas (Sections 240, 1008)
Play areas designed, constructed, and altered for children ages two and over in a variety of settings, including parks, schools, childcare facilities, and shopping centers, are covered.
Accessible ground and elevated play components, accessible routes, ramps and transfer systems (typically a platform or transfer steps), and accessible ground surfaces must be provided.
8. Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas (Sections 242, 1009)
Accessible means of entry/exit are required for swimming pools. Such accessible means of entry include a pool lift or sloped entry, and either a transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs. Wading pools must provide a sloped entry, and spas must provide a pool lift, transfer wall, or transfer system. Wave action pools, leisure rivers, and sand bottom pools where user access is limited to one area shall not be required to provide more than one accessible means of entry, either a pool lift, sloped entry, or a transfer system.