(photo: Aquatic Access Lift)
Looking to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for pool lifts? Here is the language from the Act you must follow. The text in red is directly from the Act. The text in black is explanation provided by Aquatic Access, a pool lift manufacturer which produces ADA compliant lifts.
The recommendations for public pools require that at
least two means of entry and exit be provided for each public and common use
swimming pool. A sloped entry or lift must be the primary means of access. The
secondary means of access is not permitted to duplicate the primary means and
also allows transfer walls, transfer systems, stairs, or moveable floors as
a means of access. An exception permits swimming pools with less than 300 linear
feet of swimming pool wall to have only one means of access, but that means
of access must be either a lift or sloped entry. When more than one means of
access is provided into the water, it is recommended that the means be different.
Providing different means of access will better serve the varying needs of people
with disabilities in getting into and out of a swimming pool. It is also recommended
that where two or more means of access are provided, they not be provided in
the same location in the pool. Different locations will provide increased options
for entry and exit, especially in larger pools. Wave action pools, leisure rivers,
sand bottom pools, and other pools where user access is limited to one area,
shall provide at least one accessible means of entry that complies with 15.8.5
(Swimming Pool Lifts), 15.8.6 (Sloped Entries) or 15.8.8 (Transfer systems).
15.8.2 and A15.8.2
The secondary means of access must be different than the primary means and could include a pool lift, sloped entry, transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs.
The first technical requirement states that pool lifts need to be located where the water level does not exceed 48 inches. There are two exceptions to this rule. One states that it can be placed where the water level is greater in pools where all depths exceed 48 inches. The other exception states that if multiple lifts are used in one pool, only one must be located where the water depth does not exceed 48". Section 126.96.36.199
The centerline of the seat, when in the raised position, must be located over the deck and a minimum of 16" from the edge of the pool and not on a slope any greater than 1:48. There are a variety of seats available on pool lifts ranging from sling seats to those that are preformed or molded. Pool lift seats with backs will enable a larger population of persons with disabilities to use the lift. Pool lift seats that consist of materials that resist corrosion and provide a firm base to transfer will be usable by a wider range of people with disabilities. Sections 15.8.2 and A15.8.5
In order for an individual to move safely from wheelchair to lift and lift to wheelchair, there needs to be a comfortable distance from the edge of the pool to the place where the transfer will occur. A significant slope would increase the danger of the wheelchair rolling away.
There must be at least 36" of clear deck space on the side of the seat opposite the water. That clear deck space is not to be on a slope any greater than 1:48. Section 188.8.131.52
In order for an individual to bring a wheelchair alongside the lift and slide safely onto the lift seat (and return to the wheelchair after a swim), there must be enough space for positioning the chair. Again, a significant slope would increase the danger of the wheelchair's rolling.
The height of a lift seat needs to be designed to allow a stop between 16" and 19" from the surface of the deck to the top of the seat surface when the seat is in the raised position. Additional stops at other heights are acceptable as long as one stop falls between 16" and 19". Section 184.108.40.206
The height of the seat was determined as a compromise to accommodate the needs of an adult or a child in a standard wheelchair.
The width of the lift seat is to be 16" wide minimum. Section 220.127.116.11
Footrests that move in conjunction with the seat are required to be provided except for pool lifts that provide access to some spas. Footrests are encouraged on lifts used in larger spas, where the foot well water depth is 34 inches or greater. Additional options such as armrests, head rests, seat belts, and leg support will enhance accessibility and better accommodate people with a wide range of disabilities. Sections 18.104.22.168 and A15.8.5
If provided, the armrest opposite the water needs to be either removable or fold clear of the seat when the seat is in the raised position. This provision is included to guarantee an easy side-to-side transfer from wheelchair to lift seat. Sections 22.214.171.124 and A15.8.5
It is required that a pool lift be capable of unassisted operation from both the deck and water levels. The controls and operating mechanisms must be unobstructed when a lift is in use and not require tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist to operate. Further, pressure to the operating mechanism cannot exceed 5 lbs. Pool lifts must be capable of unassisted operation from both the deck and water levels. This will permit a person to call the pool lift when the pool lift is in the opposite position. It is extremely important for a person who is swimming alone to be able to call the pool lift when it is in the up position so he or she will not be stranded in the water for extended periods of time awaiting assistance. The requirement for a pool lift to be independently operable does not preclude assistance from being provided. This section stipulates that the lift must have controls at the deck level and at water level all of the time. This guarantees that a person in the water does not become stranded in the water, and allows multiple individuals to utilize the lift within a swimming session. It is important that a lift buyer consider carefully whether or not this requirement is met. The regulation also implies in its final sentence that, while total independence is desirable, prudence must be exercised in any potentially dangerous situations. Sections 126.96.36.199 and A188.8.131.52
Another requirement is that the lift be designed so that the seat will submerge to a water depth of 18" minimum. This depth is deemed necessary to ensure that natural buoyancy assists the individual in moving from the lift into the pool. The standard models of the IGAT-180, IGAT-180/135, and IGAT-180AD fulfill this requirement. Section 184.108.40.206
Single person pool lifts shall have a minimum weight capacity of 300 lbs. (136 kg) and be capable of sustaining a static load of at least one and a half times the rated load. Pool lifts should be provided to meet the needs of the population it is serving. Providing a pool lift with a weight capacity greater than 300 pounds may be advisable. This requirement serves to guarantee that the lift can provide access to the majority of the population and has been tested with weights exceeding the rated load by 50%. Sections 220.127.116.11 and A18.104.22.168