Figuring out how to make adjustments to your pool so that it will be more accessible to your disabled friends and family members is a worthy goal (see Parts 1 & 2). Though it can seem like a daunting challenge at first, it really only takes three main steps: careful planning, wise selection of equipment, and installation. It makes sense to hire a professional to install any kind of permanent equipment you decide to purchase. With portable equipment, be sure to read the instruction manual that comes with each piece to find out how to position it securely in the pool, move it efficiently, and store it safely when not in use.
In our last article, we looked at how portable access ladders and stairs could make pools more handicap accessible. In this article, we’ll consider two more options you could consider adding to help you share your backyard oasis with those who are disabled.
Construct a Sloped Entrance for Easy Access to Your Pool
A sloped entrance could best be described as a gradual, steady ramp heading straight from the pool wall to the bottom of your pool. In order for it to be a handicap accessible ramp, make sure your sloped pool entrance is equipped with sturdy handrails that are of an ADA-Compliant height. If your sloped entrance is long enough to be at a very slight angle, it may even be able to safely accommodate someone who would like to be wheeled into the pool in a wheelchair.
Check with your installer to find out what a safe angle for such a sloped entrance would be if you’re interested in making your pool wheelchair accessible. Anyone wishing to enter the water in this way must use an aquatic wheelchair that’s specially designed not to contaminate the pool water. A removable ramp made from materials that can be safely submerged in water can also be used for this purpose. Many pool owners prefer a removable ramp so they can give it thorough cleanings between uses and keep it stored away safely when not in use.
Build a Transfer Wall on the Edge of Your Pool
A transfer wall is an elongated area that builds up the wall of the pool to just the right height for a person to be safely transferred into the pool from their wheelchair or power chair. For ADA-Compliance, a transfer wall has to have a very specific height (between 16 and 19 inches from the deck) and width (between 12 and 16 inches) requirements as well as a requirement for at least one grab bar. The grab bars can’t be made from an abrasive material, and they can’t turn around when a person grabs onto them. There also needs to be plenty of deck space beside the transfer wall for convenient wheelchair access. Transfer walls also ought to have smooth, contoured edges so people aren’t accidentally scraping their skin on any sharp corners or edges while entering the pool.
There’s plenty to think about when it comes to making your pool more user-friendly for people with disabilities. In our last article in this series, we will explore one other piece of equipment you may want to add to your backyard pool and then end our discussion with some concluding thoughts on this important topic.
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