A federal order requiring that public pools have chair lifts installed for people with disabilities was delayed after a wave of protests. There are 300,000 pool owners at hotels, parks and gyms in California and nationwide that continue to fight the requirement under a new provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
May was the second installation of the deadline set by the U.S. Justice Department, but many owners of affected public pools complained. Each chair can cost as much as $8,000. Most hotel pools do not have the staff, including lifeguards trained to operate the equipment. Many pool owners feared they would have to shut down pools completely for non-compliance with the law.
The chair lifts are intended to help people with disabilities get in and out of the water. They lower the individual and submerge them in water, where they can slide out and grab hold of the edge of the pool.
While this has been the second time the deadline has been extended, disability advocates believe this will be the final extension. According to many critics of the law, the chair is not only an expensive mandate, it could be an accident waiting to happen. As an “attractive nuisance” kids could use the equipment and get hurt if not properly supervised.
For many who suffer disabilities, thre are many more accommodations necessary to make swimming feasible. However, according to the Justice Department, the new rules are meant to give access to meet the needs of the entire range of people with disabilities. They are designed to meet the needs of an average disabled person. The chairs can be helpful to those who have a hard time getting in and out of the water, the elderly, or those who are missing limbs.
Source: NPR, “Despite Delays, Chair Lifts Coming to Public Schools,” Gigi Douban, July 6, 2012.