Pool Access (ADA +)

As many of you know there has been considerable discussion on the topic of accessibility to our facility.  Generally this discussion has focused on two challenges:

  • Getting up to our entrance
  • Moving through and using the bath house

The access challenge effects a number of our members including some of our seniors who have reached a state of limited mobility,  parents who are brining young children and strollers to the pool, and any of us who may become wheelchair bound – or wish to bring guests to the pool who require this type of access.

As we have discussed the potential for improving access, the question of the American’s with Disability Act (ADA) has come up a number of times, and there has been some confusion about our requirements under this law.  To answer this question Elizabeth Redisch of the design committee and Margaret Warker have researched our requirement.  While none of us are legal experts in this field we have compiled below my layman’s understanding of what Elizabeth and Margaret were able to share:

1)      We do fall under ADA requirements.

  1. Only a private facility with no outside participants (no guests, no outside swim teams) would be exempt from ADA requirements.

2)      We are currently grandfathered in.  However, changes to our facility will trigger requirements to meet ADA standards.

3)      While refurbishment of our bath house would not necessarily require us to meet all ADA standards at once, we would be expected to spend at least 20% of any refurbishment funds on meeting ADA standards.

  1. In utilizing these funds the expectation is that we would start with access to the facility at  the main entrance, and any remaining money would be spent on meeting other needs in the building itself.

4)      It is generally understood that a separate disability entrance – perhaps through the back gate – does not meet ADA requirements.  (This goes to the longstanding tradition in civil rights legislation to remove “separate but equal” facilities.)

  1. That said, it is not out of the question that we could apply for a waiver to use an alternative access claiming special circumstances.  While this is possible both of the architects we have worked with have advised us against this route as a guessing game at best.

5)      While there are lots of specific requirements to meet ADA standards, we are most effected in three areas:

  1. Access to our entrance clearly does not meet ADA standards. (A study has been done on creating a ramp with a slope to meet ADA requirements.  To generate the amount of elevation required an ADA compliant ramp would need to be 198 feet in length with six landings.  The alternative to that is an elevator and we have been recommended a “Limited Use Elevator” as a means of getting up to the entrance.
  2. We also do not meet ADA requirements for the bath rooms. Generally either a separate special needs (unisex) bath room, or disability facilities in both the male and female bath rooms will be required.
  3. Our pool does not meet ADA requirements for access to the pool.  We will likely be expected to add 2 entrance points which meet disability requirements starting in 2012.

In summary we believe we are required to comply with the American’s with Disability Act.  Any new facility would need to meet these standards fully, and any efforts at refurbishment would require a 20% expenditure on meeting ADA standards until such point that we meet the full standards of the law.

Impact on Design Alternatives

As a result of this review the design committee has determined that including a “Limited Use Elevator” is the best way to meet the needs for access up to the entrance.  The inclusion of the elevator will both meet the needs of the ADA access requirement and also provide a solution to all our other members who have challenges accessing our entrance.

For more details on the challenges of a ramp see the additional details on wheelchair ramp requirements below.

Wheelchair Ramp Specs: Slope and Rise

Ramp slopes between 1:16 and 1:20 are preferred. The ability to manage an incline is related to both its slope and its length. Wheelchair users with disabilities affecting their arms or with low stamina have serious difficulty using inclines.

Most ambulatory people and most people who use wheelchairs can manage a slope of 1:16. Many people cannot manage a slope of 1:12 for 30 ft (9 m).

Therefore, to build according to wheelchair ramp specs, the least possible slope shall be used for any ramp. The maximum slope of a ramp in new construction shall be 1:12. The maximum rise for any run shall be 30 in (760 mm).

No alteration shall be undertaken which decreases or has the effect of decreasing accessibility or usability of a building or facility below the requirements for new construction at the time of alteration.

Wheelchair Ramp Specs: Clear Width

The minimum clear width of a ramp shall be 36 in (915 mm).

Wheelchair Ramp Specs: Landings

Level landings are essential toward maintaining an aggregate slope that complies with ADA guidelines. A ramp landing that is not level causes individuals using wheelchairs to tip backward or bottom out when the ramp is approached.

Therefore, ramps shall have level landings at bottom and top of each ramp and each ramp run. Landings shall have the following features

  • The landing shall be at least as wide as the ramp run leading to it.
  • The landing length shall be a minimum of 60 in (1525 mm) clear.
  • If ramps change direction at landings, the minimum landing size shall be 60 in by 60 in (1525 mm by 1525 mm).
  • If a doorway is located at a landing, then the area in front of the doorway shall comply with the ADA wheelchair ramp specs. Entry doors to acute care hospital bedrooms for in-patients shall be exempted from the requirement for space at the latch side of the if the door is at least 44 in (1120 mm) wide.

Wheelchair Ramp Specs: Handrails

The requirements for stair and ramp handrails in this guideline are for adults. When children are principal users in a building or facility (e.g. elementary schools), a second set of handrails at an appropriate height can assist them and aid in preventing accidents.

A maximum height of 28 inches measured to the top of the gripping surface from the ramp surface or stair nosing is recommended for handrails designed for children.

Sufficient vertical clearance between upper and lower handrails (9 inches minimum) should be provided to help prevent entrapment.

If a ramp run has a rise greater than 6 in (150 mm) or a horizontal projection greater than 72 in (1830 mm), then it shall have handrails on both sides.

Handrails are not required on curb ramps or adjacent to seating in assembly areas. Handrails shall have the following features:

  • Handrails shall be provided along both sides of ramp segments. The inside handrail on switchback or dogleg ramps shall always be continuous.
  • If handrails are not continuous, they shall extend at least 12 in (305 mm) beyond the top and bottom of the ramp segment and shall be parallel with the floor or ground surface.
  • The clear space between the handrail and the wall shall be 1 – 1/2 in (38 mm).
  • Gripping surfaces shall be continuous.
  • Top of handrail gripping surfaces shall be mounted between 34 in and 38 in (865 mm and 965 mm) above ramp surfaces.
  • Ends of handrails shall be either rounded or returned smoothly to floor, wall, or post.
  • Handrails shall not rotate within their fittings.

Cross Slope and Surfaces

The cross slope of ramp surfaces shall be no greater than 1:50. Ramp surfaces shall comply with ADA standards for ground and floor surface.

Wheelchair Ramp Specs: Edge Protection

Ramps and landings with drop-offs shall have curbs, walls, railings, or projecting surfaces that prevent people from slipping off the ramp. Curbs shall be a minimum of 2 in (50 mm) high.

Ramp Specs: Outdoor Conditions

Outdoor ramps and their approaches shall be designed so that water will not accumulate on walking surfaces.