In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with broad bipartisan support and President George H.W. Bush signed it into law. This historic achievement granted people living with disabilities the rights they deserve and protection from discrimination due to a disability. Specifically, it protects people with disabilities in employment settings, state and local government activities (such as public education and voting), public accommodations (such as hotels and restaurants), commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.
Since its enactment, the ADA has been strengthened through amendments and many regulations that clearly spell out the rights of people with disabilities. Nonetheless, the ADA has yet to be applied and enforced for some activities and services, including ensuring equal access for people with disabilities to swimming pools. Access to swimming pools is as important for people with disabilities as it is for everyone else. Swimming is an important part of participating fully in one’s community and engaging in social interaction with friends and family. In addition, for many people with disabilities, swimming is a critical means of exercise that helps maintain strength and independence.
Initial guidelines on the accessibility of swimming pools were issued in 2002 and since then, have been incorporated into more official guidelines in preparation for the required formal rulemaking process. Recently, there have been efforts by certain opponents to further stall the final rule and to deprive the Department of Justice of their authority to enforce them. Either of these actions would weaken the intention of the ADA and leave people with disabilities waiting even longer for their rights to equal access to swimming pools.
Click here to contact your members of Congress about this important issue. Your emails will state that people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else to use swimming pools and will urge your members of Congress to oppose efforts to stall this regulation.