ADA And Aquatics

(b)(1) Use of other power-driven mobility devices. A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of other power-driven mobility devices by individuals with mobility disabilities, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that the class of other power-driven mobility devices cannot be operated in accordance with legitimate safety requirements that the public accommodation has adopted pursuant to § 36.301(b).

The 2010 revisions can start to be enforced in January 2011 but won’t be required until January 2012, so the extent of their reach and interpretation are yet to be seen. Of particular interest is section (b) and how it might apply to the use of Segways and other vertical mobility devices that can be cumbersome when not in use, and may be dangerous on a wet pool deck. Many other revisions, such as specific instances when service animals may be removed from the premises, may face legal challenges when the revisions begin to be enforced.

Benefits Of Aquatic Exercise

Many facilities are creating programs specifically for different groups of disabled persons, ranging from learning and behavioral disabilities to the full spectrum of physical disabilities.

Due to the comforting, weight-reducing environment of aquatic exercise, water is an ideal activity for those recovering from injury, those who have chronic ailments such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, the obese and those with cognitive disorders, such as autism.

When creating programs for a facility, it is important to consider the needs of members or constituents and the capabilities of instructors. Special training and skills are needed for many user groups, including those with cognitive disorders.

The New England Center for Children is a non-profit school for autism treatment and education, located in Boston, Mass. Its facility features a 3,250-square-foot, six-lane swimming pool with stairs across the entire shallow end and depths that change across the width of the pool as opposed to its length, like that of a traditional pool.

Phil Leonard, the Adapted Physical Education Specialist at the school, feels that it is vital to understand how the pool will be used before it’s built.

“You have to know your population well enough to plan ahead for behaviors and facility design. The way that our pool is designed is perfect for our students, who are more hesitant until they are comfortable enough to feel safe and to relax and enjoy the water,” Leonard explains.

The center uses a ratio of two instructors per 15 students, and also relies on a system where individual teachers are assigned to specific students who need special attention.

Leonard believes aquatics offers a great chance to provide students with structured physical activities and learning opportunities in a fun environment.

“Aquatics is great for special needs, as it provides opportunities to exercise more comfortably, more easily and with more freedom than land-based exercise. Our kids gravitate toward it. Even when the time is spent in work-based exercises, it feels like fun.”

Translating Good Practice Into Profits

The rising awareness of the benefits of aquatic therapy has created a rare situation where doing the right thing not only helps those who need it, but also helps a facility to be profitable. The disabled typically utilize pools during non-peak hours–late morning to early afternoon–when many pools sit empty or are barely used.

One of the biggest complaints that have prevented therapy programs from being more successful in the past is that therapy users and lap swimmers want different things in a swimming pool. Lap swimmers prefer colder and deeper water, whereas therapy users prefer warmer water and shallower depths.

Many modern facilities are moving toward multiple pool facilities where each user group can be accommodated. For facilities without enough space to add another pool, installing movable floors is an option–although an expensive one–but it doesn’t address the temperature dilemma.

The reason that facilities are looking toward incorporating more therapy-friendly programs is that, along with learn-to-swim classes, they are typically a top draw, and facilities can charge enough per person to generate revenue from each class.

Page 2 of 3 | Previous page | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Aquatics Workshops
  2. Plunging Into Aquatics
  3. Winning Over Residents
  4. Examining Outdoor Pools
  5. Double-Duty Pools
  • Columns
  • Departments