Make Your Aquatics More Inclusive
Aquatic facilities offer unique benefits to those with disabilities, providing a way to improve physical and mental health. While meeting ADA requirements for swimming pools is important, you should take your programming one step further, to be sure you are providing as many ways for people of varying abilities to get involved as you can.
Q: What should we know about accessibility and swimming pools?
A: The guidelines established by the Department of Justice for Americans With Disabilities Act require public entities like municipal pools, as well as commercial facilities such as fitness center pools, to provide accessible means of entry to the water. The requirements vary based on the size of the pool.
Sloped entry and stairs can provide access for many, but pool lifts are another way to meet the needs of your patrons with disabilities. A pool lift should be located at poolside and ready for use during all hours your pool is open. Be sure it is in good working condition, and follow all of the manufacturer's recommendations when it comes to maintenance. Also, make sure your staff understands the equipment's use, and are ready to help patrons.
Q: What are some other ways we can ensure our aquatic facilities are more inclusive?
A: In addition to ensuring that patrons with disabilities can get into and out of the water with dignity, you can boost the inclusiveness of your facility in other ways.
If you have sloped entries or ramps, or if you have a spray park, you might consider providing pool access chairs designed for an aquatic environment. Look for chairs that are lightweight and durable, and made from materials that will resist corrosion, such as stainless steel and PVC.
Be sure to let the public know about your inclusive programs and all the ways you make it easier for people of all abilities to use your facility.
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