Aquatic Accessibility

According to the American Journal of Public Health, an estimated 54 million people in the United States were living with a disability in 2005. Considering the average lifespan of both the able and disabled is climbing, it is reasonable to assume that number is even larger now. Perhaps more importantly, these 54-plus million people are taking advantage of improved technologies to lead a significantly more active lifestyle.

This active lifestyle goes to the heart of camping. So, its no surprise many camps have found their aquatic facilities and programs are ideally suited to providing low-impact exercise opportunities attractive both populations. Doctors and therapists across the country are finding that the ease of movement associated with aquatic exercise and fitness routines builds their patients’ strength and confidence, which helps to ward off depression, heart disease and diabetes, and works towards helping them live more independent lives.

Understand The Local Regulatory Environment

Of course, before you can meet this demand, your aquatic facility needs to be accessible. This is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. A good place to start is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that newly constructed and altered facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities. ADA access standards exist for swimming pools, wading pools and spas (you can view requirements online at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/), as well as local building codes and standards.

These various codes (local, state and federal) are really only a starting point. To determine what accessibility product or renovation will truly meet your needs, you need to stop and consider the demographics of your clientele (who are you trying to serve?). What other amenities will need to be improved/updated (lockers and restrooms, concessions, first aid, etc.)? How easy is the new equipment to use, how will the new device impact your existing pool environment, and does it need to be stored when it is not being used?

Other Considerations

Ease Of Use—An Example

The use of temporary transfer steps to provide access to your pool may be the perfect solution to your problem. Or, it may not.

Depending on your particular setup, the following hypothetical issues may turn a great solution into a big problem:

•The temporary transfer steps you purchased require multiple employees to install, move and store, which means the equipment is not used very much.

•The cost of installing and uninstalling the transfer steps ends up causing a rift in your regular budget meetings.

•Employees are not properly trained on how to install the transfer steps, and they repeatedly do it incorrectly, causing undue wear and tear on the equipment.

•The device is not stored properly (or no storage space is available, so it is kept on the pool deck), creating a hazard for other patrons.

•Your campers feel self-conscious using the transfer steps, and you worry they are creating undue work for your staff.

Of course, it can go the other way. If the temporary transfer steps are supported by a quality manufacturer who provides adequate instructions and training for installation, removal and storage, the steps may fit the bill nicely. Take the time to determine how you can safely, courteously and professionally provide access to your pool environment. The correct solution is easy for your staff to implement, it doesn’t create another issue, and it is dignified for the user.

Impact On The Pool Environment

This is an especially important consideration when researching permanent accommodations for access. Permanent lifts, ramps, stairs, zero-depth entry systems and transfer walls will present limitations to what types of activities your pool can support. Because these structures are permanent, they will take away space you may currently use for competition swimming or training programs. If they are a recent addition, they can also present short-term hazards for people who are not aware the pool environment has changed.

Again, your clientele will determine the most logical course for you to follow. For example, if a person cannot walk, only a lift will be perceived as a viable access accommodation. For others, a ramp may be a better solution.

Price

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Related posts:

  1. Aquatic Accessibility
  2. Aquatic Safety Review, Part 3
  3. Aquatic Safety Review, Part 1
  4. Aquatic Safety Review, Part 2
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