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Swimming Pools: Considerations for Physical Access

Presented by: Dr. Edward J. Hamilton

View streaming video for this presentation

Purpose

  • To identify and evaluate methods and standards enabling access to swimming pools by people with disabilities.
  • Focus:
    - appropriateness
    - independent use
    - consistency with existing building standards
    - level of safety
    - impact on pool design

Methodology

    Four principal activities:

  • comprehensive literature review
  • national telephone survey of 205 people with disabilities
  • national telephone survey of 150 swimming pool operators
  • testing of designs and devices by 84 people with disabilities.
Click on the picture to enlarge
A picture of a woman sitting on a pool lift in an indoor swimming pool.

Key Findings

    Literature Review:

  • Means of pool access identified
    - movable floors
    - pool lifts
    - ramps
    - stairs
    - transfer steps
    - transfer walls
    - zero depth entry
  • State regulations & national standards reviewed
  • Telephone Survey of People with Disabilities:

  • People with disabilities do use swimming pools with some regularity
  • At least one accessible means of entry and exit should be provided--prefer two
  • Independent use important to people with disabilities
  • Means of access most often preferred:
    - lifts
    - ramps
    - stairs (by those ambulatory)
    - zero depth entry
  • Click on the picture to enlarge
    A picture of a man in a wheelchair in an outdoor swimming pool.

    Telephone Survey of Pool Operators:

  • People with disabilities-- 14% of all pool users
  • 73% of pools reported at least one accessible means of entry
  • 48% of pools reported more than one
  • Means of access most frequently found at pools:
    - Stairs
    - lifts
    - ramps
    - zero depth entry
  • Safety/maintenance concerns for each of the devices or designs.
  • Click on the picture to enlarge
    A picture of a man in a wheelchair going down a sloped ramp into an indoor swimming pool.

    Testing of Designs in Pools:

  • Entering perceived as easier than exiting swimming pools with each device
  • Significant differences between ambulatory and non-ambulatory Ss in perceived difficulty of the designs.
  • Most designs and devices were easier to use by ambulatory Ss than they were for non-ambulatory Ss.
  • Only lifts and transfer steps were easier for non-ambulatory subjects.
  • Although, non-ambulatory subjects who required assistance in transfers were unable to use the transfer steps.
  • Specific problems with each of the designs and devices were reported.
Click on the picture to enlarge
A picture of a man going down a transport system into an indoor swimming pool.

Implications

  • Recommendations basis for Access Board’s Final Rule
    - Pools less than 300 linear feet
    • must provide pool lift or sloped entry
    - Pools greater than 300 linear feet
  • must provide pool lift or sloped entry
  • must provide second means:
    - lift
    - sloped entry
    - transfer system
    - stairs

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