The federal government passed a law in April 2011 under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that would require commercial pool owners to make their pools accessible to persons with disabilities. The new regulations apply to newly constructed commercial pools and existing structures, but not residential pools. Owners of existing pools have a year from the April 2011 date to bring their pools into compliance. At an average cost of about $7,000, the new law will cost commercial pool owners thousands of dollars.
Under the new law, large pools with more than 300 linear feet of pool wall must have at least two accessible entryways. The primary entryway must be a pool lift that a person with a disability can independently operate or a sloped entry into the water. The secondary entryway can be a lift, transfer wall or system, sloped entry or pool stairs. The two entryways provided should be different types and situated on different pool walls. Pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall only require one accessible entryway that must be either a sloped entry or pool lift.
Many commercial pool owners have yet to comply with the new rule simply because they are not aware of it. In Panama City Beach, Florida alone, an estimated 3,000 commercial pools are currently inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Edgewater Beach Resort, however, is one commercial pool that is way ahead of the new law.
Michelle Lacewell, Edgewater Beach Resort Marketing Director, explained, “We’ve had the chair for 15 years, we knew the importance about being accessible to the pool water while they’re here to enjoy their stay.”
One resident who couldn’t be more pleased with the new law is resident Ed Thomasson. “As far as I’m concerned, anyone that’s handicapped ought to have the ability to get in the water,” he said.
The resort’s early forward-thinking pleases Thomasson, who says it feels good to know that the establishment considers the needs of people like him.
“You have handicapped people all the time,” stated Thomasson. “If they know they can get in the water, they do. It’s amazing how many people use that chair. It’s a wonderful thing.”