Americans With Disabilities Act - Important Information for Camps

Accessible Design - Including Pools, Spas, and Fishing Piers

On May 21, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice, for the second time, extended the date for compliance with sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design as it relates to the provision of accessible entry and exit to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. The new compliance date was January 31, 2013.

Regarding pools: The ADA new requirements are for newly constructed or altered pools.  If you have an existing pool, then the ADA requires businesses to make existing pools accessible when it is "readily achievable" to do so. The 2010 Standards provide the benchmark, or goal, for accessibility in existing pools. 

2010 Revised ADA Standards

When Does My Camp Have to Comply with the New Pool Regulations? The most important step is to examine your facility and develop a plan to remove accesibility barriers.  Use these tools to assess your camp's situation and compliance requirements:

Effective Date

The new date for compliance with the 2010 Standards is now January 13, 2013.

  • "Element of Safe Harbor" – The rule includes a general "safe harbor" under which elements in covered facilities that were built or altered in compliance with the 1991 Standards or the UFAS would not be required to be brought into compliance with the 2010 Standards until the elements were subject to a planned alteration. Similar safe harbors were adopted for elements associated with the "path of travel" to an altered area.  As some of the areas covered in the 2010 Standards were NOT included in the 1991 Standards, there is no element of safe harbor for things not specifically covered in the 1991 Standards.  For more information, refer to the resources below.

    Have questions? Need clarification?

    Call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (Voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY) to speak with an ADA Specialist. All calls are confidential.

New Rules Relevant to the Camp Community Include:

  • Adoption of the Revised Design Standards – New accessible design standards are established for a variety of recreational facilities, including swimming pools, playgrounds, golf courses, recreational boating facilities, exercise machines and equipment, miniature golf courses, and fishing piers.
  • Program Accessibility: "requires the public entity to take the necessary actions to make their programs, services, activities, when viewed in their entirety, accessible.  This would include the completing an accessibility assessment of facilities, self-evaluation of policies and procedures, and development of a transition plan to remove physical and communication barriers to those programs, services and activities." Details
  • Removal of Barriers: "requires the private entity remove architectural barriers in existing facilities, including communication barriers that are structural in nature, where such removal is readily achievable, i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense" Details  Barrier removal under Title II and Title III is an ongoing requirement.  Similar to the Title II transition plan, but much less formal in nature, a best practice for a private camp covered under Title III, would be to identify all the physical and communication barriers to programs, goods, services and activities, and develop a timeline for removal of barriers that are readily achievable.  And, of course, as renovations are made to existing facilities, or new construction commences, it should follow the most current standards.
  • Wheelchairs and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices – The amended rules provide a two-tiered approach under which wheelchairs and scooters must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use.

Rule Enforcement

The ADA is a civil rights law and interpretation of the regulations is ultimately left to enforcement by Department of Justice and the courts. 

Americans With Disabilities Act Revisions Links 

The U.S. Department of Justice provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through a toll-free ADA Information Line. This service permits businesses, state and local governments, or others to call and ask questions about general or specific ADA requirements including questions about the ADA Standards for Accessible Design: 800 - 514 - 0301 (voice), hit #7 to bypass messages and talk with someone,  800 - 514 - 0383 (TTY) 

Financial Assistance

There are two Federal tax incentives available to help cover costs of making access improvements for people with disabilities:
  • A tax credit for small businesses that remove access barriers from their facilities, provide accessible services, or take other steps to improve accessibility for customers with disabilities.
    • Small businesses with 30 or fewer employees or total revenues of $1 million or less can use the Disabled Access Credit (Internal Revenue Code, Section 44). Eligible small businesses may take a credit of up to $5,000 (half of eligible expenses up to $10,250, with no credit for the first $250) to offset their costs for access, including barrier removal from their facilities (e.g., widening a doorway, installing a ramp), provision of accessibility services (e.g., sign language interpreters), provision of printed material in alternate formats (e.g., large-print, audio, Braille), and provision or modification of equipment.
  • A tax deduction for businesses of all sizes that remove access barriers in their facilities or vehicles.
    • Businesses of all sizes may take advantage of this tax deduction. Under Internal Revenue Code, Section 190, businesses can take a business expense deduction of up to $15,000 per year for costs of removing barriers in facilities or vehicles

Frequently Asked Questions

American Camp Association Resources

Other Resources

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