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2. Americans with Disabilities Swimming Pool Accessibility Act
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act
1. Drain Covers, Public and Residential Pools and Spas. By December 19, 2008, all drain covers manufactured or sold in the United States must conform to the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 Suction Fittings for Use in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs, published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
2. All public pools and spas (as defined by the Act), both new and existing, must be equipped with drain cover systems conforming to the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 standard.
3. All public pools and spas (pump) with a single main drain, other than an unblockable drain, must be equipped with an ASME A112.19.8-2007 compliant cover system and one or more of the following additional devices or systems: a safety vacuum release system (SVRS); suction limiting vent system; gravity drainage system; automatic pump shutoff system; or drain disablement.
General Questions on VGB
Q: What are public pool and spa owners/operators obligated to do to
comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (Act)?
A: As of December 19, 2008, all operating public pools and spas must have drain covers that meet the ANSI/ASME A112.19.8-2007 standard on every drain/grate. A list of drain cover manufacturers can be found at http://www.poolsafety.gov/draincman.html. In addition, if the pool has a single main drain (other than an unblockable drain), the operator must either disable the drain or install a second anti-entrapment device or system. This can take the form of an automatic shut-off system, gravity drainage system, Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) or suction-limiting vent system. A pool may have more than one single main drain. If a pool has dual or multiple main drains more than 3 feet apart, it may be exempt from this second requirement. Pools and spas with single main drains that are unblockable are also exempt from this requirement. A list of SVRS manufacturers can be found at http://www.poolsafety.gov/svrsman.html.
Q: Do I need to be in compliance with the Act on December 19, 2008 if I operate a seasonal pool or spa?
A: Pools and spas that are closed on December 19, 2008 are not required to be in compliance with the Act until the day the pool or spa is re-opened to the public.
Q: Where can I find CPSC's interpretation of the law?
A: On June 18, 2008, CPSC staff issued technical and legal interpretations of Section 1404 of the Act, which applies to public pools and spas. To download this document, please log on to: http://www.poolsafety.gov/pssa1404guide.pdf.
Q: Are there any discussions to reschedule or extend the December 19 deadline?
A: The December 19, 2008, deadline was established by Congress and has not been amended. CPSC lacks authority to extend the deadline set by Congress.
Q: Are equalizer lines in public pools covered in the Act?
A: Yes, skimmer equalizer lines are submerged drains and must either be covered (with an ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 compliant cover) or plugged. Equalizer lines are not considered to be main drains based on CPSC staff's interpretation of the law.
Q: If my pool has one main drain and one or more skimmers, does it need a second anti-entrapment device or system?
A: Yes. CPSC staff currently has no technical evidence to support claims that this type of set-up would be equivalent to a multiple main drain system. Therefore, unless the main drain is unblockable this type of set-up would require the installation of a second anti-entrapment system, as outlined in CPSC’s staff interpretation.
Q: Which types of pools and spas pose the greatest danger of entrapment and evisceration to consumers?
A: Children's wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems. (Last Updated: January 30, 2009)
Q: What should I do if my state or county department of health does not allow me to disable my drains or use a particular drain cover?
A: Affected pool and spa owners/operators need to be in compliance with federal safety requirements. If you believe that state or local laws make it impossible for you to comply with federal law, please contact Sean Ward in CPSC's Office of the General Counsel for guidance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What types of drain covers are available for purchase?
A: A variety of drain covers have already been certified to ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007. These include covers that are round (for blockable and unblockable drains), 9"x 9" square, 12"x 12" square, and 18"x 18" square. CPSC staff expects additional square unblockable drain covers to enter the market in 2009. To view a complete listing of drain cover manufacturers who have received certification that their product meets the ASME/ANSI standard, log on to: http://www.cpsc.gov/businfo/vgb/draincman.html.
Q: What is the proper marking on approved drain covers?
A: Drain covers made during a short period in the summer of 2008 used the ASME symbol and/or the "ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007" mark. There was then a period of time during the late summer and early fall of 2008 when no marking was placed on drain covers being made to be in compliance with the standard. Since November 12, 2008, newly made drain covers should have the "VGB 2008" marking. You should ensure that you are using certified covers. If there is no mark or you are otherwise in doubt, contact the manufacturer and ask for a copy of the certificate. Also keep a record of where and exactly when you purchased the cover.
Q: Can operators pre-order approved drain covers?
A: Yes. Round covers and various square covers are available for purchase and many manufacturers are taking orders for drain covers yet to be manufactured.
Q: What should I do if my pool's drain requires a field-fabricated drain cover but none is available? (For example a pool with a single L-shaped drain that is half on the pool bottom and half on the wall.)
A: Certain drains will require a field-fabricated cover. Pool owners/operators should either work to find a manufacturer who will build a custom-made cover or the pool should be re-built to have dual main drains. In the near term, owners/operators should incorporate one of the secondary anti-entrapment systems into their existing system. If the two planes of the L-shaped drain cannot be blocked simultaneously by the body blocking element defined in the ASME standard, then a secondary system is not necessary. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Act may result in pool closure.
Q: Who is approving new drain cover designs?
A: Third-party testing and certification is being conducted by Underwriters Laboratories, the National Sanitation Foundation, and IAPMO (The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials).
Q: I have a field-fabricated, unblockable drain cover that I believe meets the current ASME/ANSI standard. Am I required to order a new cover?
A: No. A field-fabricated cover may continue to be used where a professional engineer (PE) certifies that it meets the requirements of ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007, including flow rates, UV exposure, and durability. The PE must document that the drain cover meets the new standard and provide a copy of the certificate to the pool owner/operator.
Q: What is CPSC's position regarding sumps and the ASME/ANSI standard?
A: CPSC staff recognizes and supports the technical requirement of the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 standard, which calls for field-built sumps to have a depth of 1.5 times the diameter of the piping; however, the federal Pool and Spa Safety Act does not require pool owners/operators to replace their sump. If a new, compliant drain cover can be safely secured onto a pre-existing sump, while properly controlling the flow rate, then it meets the intent of the law. If a PE determines that additional engineering work needs to be done to the sump to bring it into compliance with the standard and ensure a secure connection with a new cover, then that work should be carried out. Finally, if a PE determines that a new drain cover cannot be safely placed on a pre-existing sump, then the sump should be removed and replaced with a new, compliant sump that is compatible with the compliant drain covers.
Q: My public spa has three or four drain covers, all in a small foot well. What do I need to do to comply?
A: The drain cover requirement of the new law applies to these types of public spas. They should have compliant drain covers and a second anti-entrapment system if the drains are less than 36 inches apart and not located on two planes.
Q: If I have a gravity drain system, am I required to change the drain cover?
A: Yes. Pools with gravity drain systems automatically fall into the category of having a second anti-entrapment system, so ensuring that the existing covers are compliant with ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 or replacing them with compliant covers is all that is required.
Q: A pool owner installed an emergency shut-off switch for an indoor pool which is gravity fed. The existing covers are 18"x 18" with a 24" diagonal. Would new drain covers with the new logo be required?
A: Drain covers compliant with ASME/ANSI 112.19.8-2007 are required on all drains of public pools and spas. If the drain on a single main drain is blockable, a secondary anti-entrapment system must also be installed. An 18"x 18" grate with a 24" diagonal is blockable by the body-blocking element referred to in the ASME standard. An emergency shut-off switch must be automatic to be in compliance with the requirements for the secondary anti-entrapment device. If the pool has a multiple suction outlet system, then ensuring that the existing drain covers are compliant with ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 or replacing them with compliant drain covers is all that is required.
Q: My indoor pool has two main drains about 8 inches apart. Do I still need to install new drain covers?
A: Yes. The drain covers must be compliant with ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007. In addition, you will need a second anti-entrapment system since the drains are less than 36 inches apart.
Q: Who qualifies as a "trained or certified professional"?
A: CPSC staff recommends contacting state or local officials to determine who is qualified in your area. Experts, such as a PE or similar design professional, should be formally licensed or certified as a business and carry some level of insurance or similar protection.
Q: Are single family rental property pools considered to be public under the Act?
A: No, these pools are not considered public under section 1404(c)(2) of the Act and therefore are not required to comply with the cover replacement or secondary anti-entrapment system requirements.
Q: Are physical therapy pools considered to be public under the Act?
A: It depends. Therapy pools are not specifically defined under section 1404(c)(2) of the Act, but a therapy pool may not be considered a public pool depending on its accessibility to the public generally.
Q: Approved flow rates are determined by the drain cover manufacturers, but some state minimum standards require that the water velocity through grates not exceed 1.5 fps with one drain 100% blocked. How do we rectify this issue?
A: Drain cover ratings are based on allowable flow in gallons per minute (gpm) and tested in the laboratory under conditions to determine maximum allowable flow rate, which can result in velocities through the open area of the cover that are greater than 1.5 fps. Alignment of the flow-ratings of the covers with state requirements may require adjustments to some of the state codes. State officials may want to evaluate their code requirements in light of the new requirements made mandatory by the Act.
Q: Who can enforce the Act?
A: Both the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the State Attorneys General are empowered to enforce this Act.
The Americans with Disabilities Swimming Pools Accessibility Act
Accessible Swimming Pools and Spas"Whenever any barrier stands between you and the full rights and dignity of citizenship, we must work to remove it, in the name of simple decency and justice. The promise of the ADA...has enabled people with disabilities to enjoy much greater access to a wide range of affordable travel, recreational opportunities and life-enriching services."
President George W. Bush, New Freedom Initiative, February 1, 2001
guidelines described in this guide focus on newly designed or newly constructed
and altered swimming pools, wading pools, aquatic recreation facilities, and
spas. Other provisions contained in ADAAG address elements commonly found at a
swimming facility, such as accessible vehicle parking spaces, exterior
accessible routes, and toilet and bathing facilities. ADAAG addresses only the
built environment (structures and grounds); the guidelines do not address
operational issues. Questions regarding operational issues should be directed
to the Department of Justice, 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).
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 PoolsLarge 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
Aquatic Recreation FacilitiesWave action pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where access to the water is limited to one area and where everyone gets in and out at the same place, must provide at least one accessible means of entry, no matter 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 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
Seats There are a variety of seats available on pool lifts and these guidelines do not specify the type of material or the type of seat required. However, lift seats must be a minimum of 16 inches wide. In the raised (load) position, the centerline of the seat must be located over the deck, a minimum of 16 inches from the edge of the pool. The deck surface between the centerline of the seat and the pool edge cannot have a slope greater than 1:48.
Although not required, seats with backs will enable a larger number of persons with disabilities to use the lift independently. Pool lift seats made of materials that resist corrosion, that provide a firm base, and that are padded are more usable. Headrests, seat belts, and additional leg support may also enhance accessibility and accommodate a wider variety of people with disabilities.
Clear Deck Space Clear deck space must be provided to enable a person to get close enough to the pool lift seat to easily transfer from a wheelchair or mobility device. This clear deck space will ensure an unobstructed area for transfers between a mobility device and the seat. The clear deck space must be a minimum of 36 inches wide and extend forward a minimum of 48 inches from a line located 12 inches behind the rear edge of the seat. This space must be located on the side of the seat opposite the water. The slope of the clear deck space must not be greater than 1:48 (2%). This virtually flat area will make the transfer easier and safer, while still allowing water to drain away from the deck.
Seat Height The lift must be designed so that the seat will make a stop between a minimum of 16 inches and maximum of 19 inches (measured from the deck to the top of the seat surface, when the seat is in the raised position). Lifts can provide additional stops at various heights to accommodate users of all ages and abilities.
Armrests are not required, however if provided, the armrest opposite the water must be removable or be able to fold clear of the seat when the seat is in the raised (load) position. This clearance is needed for people transferring between the lift and a mobility device.
Operation Lifts must be designed and placed so that people can use them without assistance, although assistance can be provided if needed. A person must be able to call the lift when it is in either the deck or water position. It is especially important for someone who is swimming alone to be able to call the lift so she or he won’t be stranded in the water for an extended period of time.
The controls and operating mechanisms must be unobstructed when a lift is in use. A person must be able to use the lift with one hand, and the operating controls must not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. Controls may not require more than five pounds of pressure to operate.
Submerged DepthLifts must be designed so that the seat will submerge to a minimum of 18 inches below the stationary water level. This will ensure buoyancy for the person on the lift and make it easier to enter or exit.
Lifting Capacity Lifts must have the capability of supporting a minimum weight of 300 pounds and be capable of sustaining a static load that is at least 1.5 times the rated load. Where possible, lifts that can support a greater weight capacity are encouraged.
Sloped Entries Sloped entries must comply with ADAAG accessible route provisions (36 inch minimum width, maximum 1:12 or 8.33% slope), except that the surface does not need to be slip resistant. The slope may be designed as zero grade beach or ramp access. With either design, the maximum slope permitted is 1:12 (8.33%).
In most cases, it is not appropriate to submerge personal wheelchairs and mobility devices in water. Some have batteries, motors, and electrical systems that can be damaged or contaminate the pool. Facilities that use sloped entries are encouraged to provide an aquatic wheelchair designed for access into the water. Persons transfer to the aquatic wheelchair and access the water using it, leaving their personal mobility device on the deck. Operators and facility managers may need to consider storage options for personal mobility devices if deck space is limited.
Submerged Depth Sloped entries must extend to a depth between 24 inches minimum and 30 inches maximum below the stationary water level. This depth is necessary for individuals using the sloped entry to become buoyant. Where the sloped entry has a running slope greater than 1:20 (5%), a landing at both the top and bottom of the ramp is required. At least one landing must be located between 24 and 30 inches below the stationary water level. Landings must be a minimum of 36 inches in width and 60 inches in length. The sloped entry may be a maximum of 30 feet at 1:12 (8.33%) slope before an intermediate landing is required. Adding a solid wall on the side closest to the water can enhance safety.
Handrails Sloped entries must have handrails on both sides regardless of the slope.
Handrail extensions are required at the top landing but not at the bottom. The
clear width between handrails must be between 33 and 38 inches. The handrail
height must be between 34 and 38 inches to the top of the gripping surface.
This provision does not require the handrails to be below the stationary water level,
which could be considered an underwater obstruction. No minimum width is
required between handrails provided on sloped entries that serve wave action
pools, leisure rivers, sand bottom pools, and other pools where people can
enter only in one place. Handrails are required to comply with ADAAG provisions
(diameter, non-rotating, and height).
Transfer Walls A transfer wall is a wall along an accessible route that allows a person to leave a mobility device and transfer onto the wall and then into a pool or spa.
Grab Bars Transfer walls must have at least one grab bar. Grab bars must be perpendicular to the pool wall and extend the full width of the wall so a person can use them for support into the water. The top of the gripping surface must be 4 to 6 inches above the wall to provide leverage to the person using the bars. If only one bar is provided, the clearance must be a minimum of 24 inches on each side of the bar. If two bars are provided, the clearance must be a minimum of 24 inches between the bars. The diameter of the grab bars must comply with ADAAG (diameter between 1.25 and 1.5 inches, not abrasive, and non-rotating).
Clear Deck Space Clear deck space of 60 by 60 inches minimum, with a slope of not more than 1:48, must be provided at the base of a transfer wall. This will allow persons using a wheelchair to turn around and access the wall, depending on the side they can best use to transfer. If there is one grab bar on a transfer wall, the clear deck space must be centered on the one grab bar. That allows enough space for a transfer on either side of the bar. If two bars are provided, the clear deck space must be centered on the 24-inch clearance between the two bars.
Height The transfer wall height must be 16 inches minimum to 19 inches maximum, measured from the deck.
Width and Length Transfer walls must be a minimum of 12 inches wide to a maximum of 16 inches wide. This provides enough space for a person to sit comfortably on the surface of the wall and pivot to access the water. The wall must be a minimum of 60 inches long and must be centered on the clear deck space. Additional length will provide increased space and options for transferring.
Surface Since people using transfer walls are in bathing suits, their skin may be in
contact with the wall. To prevent injuries, the wall surface must have rounded
edges and not be sharp.
Transfer Systems A transfer system consists of a transfer platform and a series of transfer steps that descend into the water. Users need to transfer from their wheelchair or mobility device to the transfer platform and continue transferring into the water, step by step, bumping their way in or out of the pool.
Transfer Platform Each transfer system must have a platform on the deck surface so users can maneuver on and off the system from their mobility device or wheelchair. Platforms must be a minimum of 19 inches deep by 24 inches wide. That provides enough room for a person transferring to maintain balance and provides enough space to maneuver on top of it.
Platform Height Transfer platforms must be between 16 and 19 inches high, measured from the deck.
Clear Deck Space The base of the transfer platform must have a clear deck space adjacent to it that is 60 by 60 inches minimum, with a slope not steeper than 1:48 so a person using a wheelchair can turn around and maneuver into transfer position. The space must be centered along the 24-inch minimum unobstructed side of the transfer platform. A level, unobstructed space will help a person transferring from a mobility device.
Transfer Steps The maximum height of transfer steps is 8 inches, although shorter heights are recommended. Each transfer step must have a tread depth of 14 inches minimum to 17 inches maximum and a minimum tread width of 24 inches. The steps must extend into the water a minimum of 18 inches below the stationary water level.
Surface The surface of the transfer platform and steps must not be sharp and must have rounded edges to prevent injuries.
Bars A grab bar must be provided on at least one side of each step and on the
transfer platform (shown on page 16), or as a continuous grab bar serving each
step and the platform (shown at left). The bar must not obstruct transfer onto
the platform. If a grab bar is provided on each step, the top of the gripping
surface must be 4 inches minimum to 6 inches maximum above each step. If a
continuous bar is provided, the top of the gripping surface must be 4 inches
minimum to 6 inches maximum above each step nosing. Grab bars on transfer
systems must comply with ADAAG (diameter between 1.25 and 1.5 inches, not
abrasive, and non-rotating).
Accessible Pool StairsAccessible pool stairs are designed to provide assistance with balance and support from a standing position when moving from the pool deck into the water and out. ADAAG provisions for stairs include the requirement that all steps have uniform riser heights and uniform tread widths of not less than 11 inches, measured from riser to riser. Additionally, open risers are not permitted. Other stairs or steps provided in the pool are not required to meet these guidelines.
Handrails Pool stairs must have handrails with a minimum width between the rails of 20
inches and a maximum of 24 inches. The 20- to 24-inch width for the accessible
pool stairs is intended to provide support for individuals with disabilities
who are ambulatory. Handrail extensions are required on the top landing of the
stairs but are not required at the bottom landing. Handrails on pool stairs
must comply with ADAAG provisions. The top of the handrail gripping surface
must be a minimum of 34 inches and a maximum of 38 inches above the stair
nosing. If handrails are mounted on walls, the clear space between the handrail
and wall must be 1.5 inches.
Water Play Components If water play components are provided, they must comply with the Access Board’s Play Area Guidelines and accessible route provisions.
If the surface of the accessible route, clear floor or ground spaces, and turning spaces that connect play components are submerged, the accessible route does not have to comply with the requirements for cross slope, running slope, and surface conditions. Transfer systems may be used instead of ramps to connect elevated water play components.
Other Accessible Elements If swimming pools are part of a multi-use facility, designers and operators must also comply with ADAAG and all applicable requirements for recreation facilities. These include, but are not limited to:
- Dressing, fitting, and locker rooms
- Exercise equipment and machines
- Areas of sports activities (court sports, sports fields, etc.)
- Play areas
- Saunas and steam rooms
More Information Technical assistance on the guidelines for swimming pools, wading pools, and spas is available from the Access Board at (800)-872-2253 (voice), (800)-993-2822 (TTY) or email@example.com (e-mail).
*Effective Date is March 15, 2011