How to Buy an ADA compliant Pool Lift

the revolution pool lift, ada compliant disabled access pool liftsMy wife bought a wooden block with a conventional saying on it at a local craft show; “It is what it is” declares the tiny wooden block over our sink. Compliance with ADA legislation exemplifies this statement. Love it or hate it, it’s the law.

In 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) received a few enriches courtesy of the U.S government; and to give it some teeth, made it enforceable by the Department of Justice (DOJ). In short, ADA adopted many of the principles and standards embodied in the 2004 ADAAG guidelines and incorporated these new standards into one of the most powerful and prolific amendments in the last 100 years, Title VII of the United States Constitution.

If you’ve had the solemn misfortune to review the revised ADA legislation you know first-hand that reading, let alone understanding these changes, is an incomprehensible feat of interpretation not seen since the Rosetta stone first shed light on ancient civilization. The fine print on my 401K was easier to understand!

While there are many changes to the ADA standards, for obvious reasons I’m most concerned with those that impact the commercial swimming pool market. (Legal disclaimer…”The comments below are one man’s interpretation of the newly enacted ADA legislation and should be received with the understanding that varying interpretations exist and final authority and governance lies with the United States Department of Justice”). Granted, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with leading industry manufacturers, respected experts, hospitality corporations, and even the Department of Justice. That said, don’t write me hate mail when you ignore my advice and roll the dice against the “man!”

So Commercial Pool Operators, I’m talking to you ~ here’s what you need to know…

1)      If you own, operate or manage a hotel, motel, campground, or rehab facility, YOU NEED TO BE COMPLIANT.

2)      If you own, operate, or manage a park district or municipal swimming facility, a private club, or any other semi-public swimming facility, YOU NEED TO BE COMPLIANT.

3)      If you own, operate, or manage an apartment complex, condo association, or homeowner’s association that receives ANY revenue from NON-residents, YOU NEED TO BE COMPLIANT.

Now, since that is out of the way, here are some additional important facts. And to answer your immediate question, yes, I’m getting to the point, but be patient; this is good stuff!

1)      There is no safe harbor! This means that unlike other portions of the ADA legislation, your property is NOT “grandfathered in” simply because you aren’t making any significant structural or otherwise physical changes to the pool area. If you have a pool and fall into the categories above, YOU NEED TO BE COMPLIANT.

2)      If you have less than 300 linear feet of pool edge, you only need 1 primary means of access. These include pool lifts and sloped entry ramps. CAUTION: Sloped entry ramps cannot be more than a 1:12 ratio and carry additional requirements not discussed in this blog including railings, rest areas, and landing areas.

3)      If you have greater than 300 feet of linear pool edge, your pool is required to have 1 primary and 1 secondary means of access. Secondary means of access include, but are not limited to, either of the two primary means of access, transfer tiers, transfer walls, or ADA compliant steps.

Good news, you have options! For most, you realistically can choose between a pool lift, a pool lift, or… hold on, this one’s exciting, a pool lift. Let’s face it, paying to install a 1:12 ramp in any standard small to medium size commercial pool is just ridiculous! If your pool is 4 foot deep, you’d need a ramp that’s at a minimum 48 feet long! And that doesn’t include the intermediate landing / rest areas along the way. So now that we’ve agreed a pool lift is the best choice, here are your options.

1)      Semi-permanent pool lift installation – These include lifts such as the Aqua Creek Ranger lift, or S.R. Smith aXs lift. These lifts provide an economical price point, while still allowing for removal and storage of the lift while it’s not in use. The down side, these lifts require cutting into the pool deck surface and also require the anchor to be bonded/grounded, meaning you’ll either need to find some re-bar or drop a bonding rod in order to meet code.

2)      Portable pool lift installation – The S.R. Smith PAL pool lift, or the Aqua Creek Patriot pool lift, fit the bill on this series of lifts perfectly. While somewhat more expensive, ease of mobility, lack of permanent anchor installation, and broad application make these lifts more popular for many small and midsized commercial pool facilities.

3)      No Pool Lift, is not much of an option, and could lead to fines and pool closures. Not taking action to comply with the new ADA legislation by spring of 2012 may not be looked kindly upon by your local inspector. Not that we want to use scare tactics to encourage sales, but we do hope that when you do buy your pool lift, you’ll call our team for any questions or concerns you have about compliance.

“Shut the front door!” I know that there are skeptics, neigh sayers, and “know-it-alls” that will say otherwise. But here’s the one thing I do know: there’s an absolute plethora of tort lawyers foaming at the mouth, just waiting to bring suit on Title VII offenses, the most sympathetic and difficult to defend of which are ADA infractions. Think about it. Everyone has ADA compliant parking, ADA acceptable ramps leading up to every commercial retail facility in the country, braille even found it’s way on to drive up ATM’s! They’re blind, HOW ARE THEY DRIVING UP TO AN ATM!?! I know, please don’t send hate mail. I’m just making a point. If the banks put braille on drive up ATM’s to prevent legal consequences, why wouldn’t you install an ADA compliant lift?

I’ll end this “plog” (pool blog) on a positive note: in the hands of you savvy commercial pool operators there is a very real and lucrative return on investment on pool lifts. According to S.R Smith, there are more than 50 Million disabled Americans that can benefit from this legislation. This allows your pool to be of benefit to a large, perhaps untapped “pool” of potential clients, broadening your customer base.

The short sighted and narrow minded ask themselves, “How many requests for a pool lift have I had in the last 10 years?”  The forward thinking, investment oriented, and “golden rule” crowd will see this as the time to act and invest in the future. Where you land is your choice. But just remember, “It is what it is.”

You can find more links to ADA pool lift requirements and equipment at

Tom Aiken
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


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