Accessible Pools

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 by Shannon Coe, Program Coordinator for the AT Network

Summer is almost over and there are only a few weeks left to take a dip into a swimming pool.  For several reasons I have not been able to go swimming this year.    

One of the reasons I cannot swim this summer is because of my experience at the City of Davis public swimming pool.  

When I arrived at the pool, I asked the life guard if they had an accessible chair lift to help me get into the pool due to my physical disability. The lifeguard looked perplexed and said she had to check the storage room. She walked back to the storage room and found the accessible pool lift covered with dirt and dust.  It was obvious that the heavy hand-cranked chair lift had not been used for months.
The chair lift was big and bulky; it took many lifeguards to move it poolside.  In the process of moving the lift at a sloped angle, the lifeguards lost control of it and it landed on muddy grass at the bottom of a hill.  To unlodge the lift from the mud, it took several more lifeguards and bystanders.  As I watched them struggle with the chair lift, I was thinking this would not be an issue if the lift had been permanently installed by the pool.   

Furthermore, taking up more time, the lifeguards then had to figure out how to operate the chair lift.  It took over thirty minutes  for me to even get into the pool.  This was the last time I went swimming there. 
For many people with disabilities, trying to find an accessible pool is a challenge.  Disability rights activists are working on enforcing public and private entities to provide accessible swimming pools with permanent chair lifts.  Organizations such as ADAPT and AAPD are working hard to get hotels to install permanent pool lifts that would enable people with disabilities to have the freedom and independence to get in and out of the pool whenever they want.  In September 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice released new a legislation requiring swimming pools, wading pools, and spas to have mechanical lifts or sloped pool entries such as a ramp into the pool. Pool owners must comply with the new regulation by Jan. 31, 2013.  Next summer, I will try swimming at the City of Davis public pool again.

Photo courtesy of: p

You can learn more what ADAPT and AAPD are doing to push for accessible swimming pools by visiting: 

Other resources about accessible swimming pools:
What barriers have you encountered with inaccessible swimming pools? Have you found accessible pools in your community?  Please comment below this post and let us know about your experiences with accessible pools.

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