New regulations related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect yesterday without much fanfare. Many of these standards will affect landscape architects, including new rules for recreational boating facilities, fishing piers and platforms, golf facilities, mini golf courses, play areas, swimming pools, spas, and stages.
New construction that begins on or after March 15, 2012, must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.* A short summary of the changes can be found in a document on the ADA website, here, and a complete copy of the new standards and guidelines for meeting them are available here. The Department of Justice also released a separate memo in January, providing technical assistance related to its new pool and spa regulations.
One of the biggest changes involves rules for making public and commercial swimming pools accessible. USA Today reported that the new rules may force some hotels to close their pools and whirlpools. Due to confusion surrounding the pool and spa regulations, owners of existing pools and spas have been given a reprieve of 60 days, but no such reprieve has been issued for newly constructed pools or spas, so be sure any projects you have in the works meet the new standards.
*This sentence has been corrected. It originally stated that any space constructed after March 15 would need to meet the standards.