Pools becoming more accessible to the disabled (video)
In 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act was revised to include standards to provide all people with access to swimming pools and spas.
The new standards for existing pools will take effect Jan. 31, 2013, but some area hotels and public facilities are ready now to provide access for all their guests. Others are waiting for additional clarification on the new standards for accessibility.
As with other ADA requirements, the pool rules apply to “places of public accommodation, commercial facilities and state and local government facilities.”
Kevin Gilfeather, the superintendent of parks and recreation for the city of Kingston, said the city-owned Andretta Pool next to Dietz Memorial Stadium has had a chair lift available for people with disabilities for the past four or five years, but the city has to order a new chair for the lift because the current one is cracked. Gilfeather said he hopes to have the new chair in place when the pool opens for the summer on June 23.
“We do have a handicapped lift people can use to go into the shallow end,” Gilfeather said. He said the city ordered the lift before the new federal standards were implemented and paid between $5,500 and $6,000 to have it installed.
Gilfeather said the lift is “readily used” but not always by people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities were, for too long, excluded from participating in many recreational activities, including swimming,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release last month on the requirements for accessibility to pools. “The revised 2010 standards change that. For the first time, the 2010 standards set minimum requirements for making swimming pools, wading pools and spas accessible. Newly constructed and altered pools must meet these requirements.
“Public entities and public accommodations also have obligations with respect to existing pools,” the department stated. “State and local governments must make recreational programs and services, including swimming pool programs, accessible to people with disabilities. Public accommodations must bring existing pools into compliance with the 2010 standards to the extent that it is readily achievable to do so.”
Under the new regulations, pools with more than 300 linear feet of pool wall must have two accessible means of access, with at least one being a pool lift or sloped entry. Smaller pools are required to have only one accessible means of access, provided it is either a lift or sloped entry. Continued...
There are a limited number of exceptions to the requirements, with one applying to wave pools, lazy rivers and sand-bottom pools.
The new standards initially were set to take effect on March 31 of this year, but the implementation date was pushed back by 10 months.
the Hampton Inn in the town of Ulster has a portable lift to help guests with disabilities into the hotel’s 21,000-gallon saltwater pool. The lift is rarely used, hotel representatives said.
“It’s not a big demand,” said Sandra Sanicki, the hotel’s director of sales. She said, though, that the lift is available and staff members have been trained to safely operate it and assist guests.
The hotel, at 1307 Ulster Ave., plans to upgrade its lift to include a seat with a foot rest, representatives said. They also said the hotel meets all the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Holiday Inn at 503 Washington Ave. in Kingston does not yet have a lift for its pool, said Al Sottile, the hotel’s general manager.
“We’re just waiting for a decision from corporate offices on what to do and when to do it,” Sottile said. He said the new standards are still being reviewed and the hotel’s corporate officers are seeking additional clarification on issues such as what type of lift to provide and where the liability lies for its use.
More information about the Americans with Disabilities Act is available at www.ada.gov.
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