Many public pools are required to have wheelchair or handicap accessibility, but the one in your yard is exempt. That being said, there are benefits to ensuring your pool can be used by anyone. As generations continue to live longer, more elderly individuals or those with mobility troubles are likely to need easier pool access. Not to mention the disabled individuals that should be able to enjoy the pool as much as everyone else. Making your pool more accessible will have numerous advantages. There are 3 specific areas of accessibility, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessible Guidelines (ADAAG), that you need to consider for your pool; stairs, lifts, and sloped entry.
Tips to Make Your Pool Handicap Accessible
- Pool stairs: The handrails are the most important part of pool stairs. Consult with the ADAAG to make sure you get rails that meet the specific requirements. The stairs must have uniform riser heights and uniform tread widths of no less than 11 inches. The handrails installed need to provide assistance with balance and support from a standing position. The person needs to have support when moving from the pool deck both into and out of the water.
- Lifts: There are a number of pool lift designs out there. These lifts are designed to transport the individual from their chair on the pool deck into the water. The arm of the lift swings out over the pool, while the person remains seated, and the chair is lowered into the water. The individual exists, the chair is then raised, and the arm swings back around to the pool deck. Lifts can be manually operated, battery-operated, or motorized and you can opt for a canvas sling seat or a chair seat. Always make sure there is a clear pool deck surrounding the lift to avoid accidents or interference with the lift.
- Sloped Entry: This is basically a ramp with handrails and is ideal for helping those in wheelchairs or with mobility troubles. It is important to ensure that the surface of the sloped entry is made from a non-slip material. Walking on a slope is easier than down stairs, and there are aquatic wheelchairs that can benefit from this design too. The aquatic wheelchairs are great to have around for your guests that may need one. These do not contain electrical parts or batteries like other wheelchairs, so are not damaged by the water. The frames are typically made from stainless steel or PVC and often have safety belts too.
- Zero Entry: This form of entry is also called ‘beach entry’ and makes entry to the pool easy for individuals of all ages. Based on the beach like environment, you gradually enter the water from the deck, subtly becoming immersed as you go. No ladders or handrails are required because of the gradual and gentle slope or entry. Zero entry points are helpful for getting in and out of the water equally.
- Transfer Walls: Depending on the size of your pool, a transfer wall may be another option. These walls provide an accessible route along a wall so that a person can move from their device to the wall and then into or out of the pool. These must always have sturdy handrails that are placed perpendicular to the wall. Just as with pool lifts, you must always ensure that you have a clear pool deck surrounding the transfer wall area.
If you also have a spa in your yard, you may want to consider making this more easily accessible too. Since spas cannot have sloped entries, the best adaptations you can make are to add handrails or to use lifts. Spa lifts can be installed just like those used in pools and if you opt for handrails, be sure they meet ADAAG requirements. The steepness of steps may prove difficult even with handrails, so spa lifts are the safest bet. Making your pool easier for all to use is beneficial as well as necessary. Pools are a great source of fun, entertainment, relaxation, and exercise and everyone should get to enjoy. Think of those in your life that can benefit from easier pool access and look into the options you have.