Accessible Swimming Pools & Spas

Accessible Routes

Accessible routes are continuous, unobstructed paths connecting all accessible elements and spaces of a building or facility. Accessible route requirements in ADAAG address width (minimum of 36 inches), passing space, head room, surface, slope (maximum of 1:12 or 8.33%), changes in level, doors, egress, and areas of rescue assistance, unless modified by specific provisions outlined in this guide. An accessible route is required to provide access to the swimming areas and all the supporting amenities. An accessible route is not required to serve raised diving boards, platforms, or water slides.

Types of Facilities and Required Means of Entry into the Water

Swimming Pools

Large pools must have a minimum of two accessible means of entry. A large pool is defined as any pool with over 300 linear feet of pool wall. Pool walls at diving areas and in areas where swimmers cannot enter because of landscaping or adjacent structures are still counted as part of the pool’s total linear feet.

The primary means of entry must be either a sloped entry into the water or a pool lift that is capable of being independently operated by a person with a disability. The secondary means of entry could be a pool lift, sloped entry, transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs. It is recommended that where two means of entry are provided, they be different types and be situated on different pool walls.
Pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall are only required to provide one accessible means of entry, which must be either a pool lift or sloped entry.

Aquatic Recreation Facilities

Pools where access to the water is limited to one area and people enter and exit in the same location, such as wave action pools, leisure rivers, and sand bottom pools, must provide at least one accessible means of entry, regardless of how many linear feet of pool wall is provided. The accessible means of entry can be either a pool lift, sloped entry, or transfer system.

Catch Pools

A catch pool is a body of water where water slide flumes drop users into the water. An accessible means of entry or exit is not required into the catch pool. However, an accessible route must connect to the edge of the catch pool.

Wading Pools

A wading pool is a pool designed for shallow depth and is used for wading. Each wading pool must provide at least one sloped entry into the deepest part. Other forms of entry may be provided as long as a sloped entry is provided. The sloped entries for wading pools are not required to have handrails.


Spas must provide at least one accessible means of entry, which can be a pool lift, transfer wall, or transfer system. If spas are provided in a cluster, 5 percent of the total—or at least one spa—must be accessible. If there is more than one cluster, one spa or 5 percent per cluster must be accessible.

Footrests are not required on pool lifts provided at spas. However, footrests or retractable leg supports are encouraged, especially on lifts used in larger spas where the water depth is 34 inches or more and there is sufficient space.

Types of Accessible Means of Entry into the Water

Need more information? Ask our ADA Expert:

Mike Klauser, Project Manager
440-832-7700 ext. 125