Texas is hot.  No question about it.  Unfortunately, not everyone can just jump in and enjoy the lazy days of summer floating in the cool waters of the backyard pool.

Just as with any other area of the home that you need to make accessible, a swimming pool, a portable spa with hydro massage, or an above-ground pool, does not need to be out of reach to individuals with mobility issues or physical limitations.  Aging in the home options can extend the pool access to seniors, as well.

Public pools, hotel pools or other pools that are open to the public are required to be made accessible to individuals.  However, your private pool in your own backyard is exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and all of its requirements and guidelines.

While you may not be required to comply with the ADA requirements, please make sure that the products you are considering are indeed manufactured to and comply with those guidelines.  In addition, some of the guidelines will help you make your pool more enjoyable for many years to come.

Pool Stairs

Most of the pools, if not all, will have a set of stairs for entry.  The important consideration is that there is a solid set of handrails to help you in and out of the pool and adequate tread depth, as well as offering adequate tread depth of at least 11 inches.  The ADA offers guidelines for the specific measurements that apply to this scenario to make the pool accessible.

Handrails may not be an attractive element in your pool, yet do ensure that the handrail offers a solid assistance for balance and support to a person from the pool deck all the way into the pool and out again.

Should your existing pool not offer stairs or handrails that are functional to you as described, there are pool access stairs complete with handrails available to retrofit your pool and make it accessible.  You will find them made out of durable stainless steel or

Sloped Pool Entries

This is the ideal entry for those that need to enter the pool with their wheelchair.  Think of it as a ramp that terminates into the pool.  Just as with the pool stairs, a solid set of handrails must offer the individual steady balance and solid support from the pool deck all the way into the pool and out again.

A sloped entry offers many advantages for many of the limitations or disabilities of seniors and others.  The slope and handrail allows a person to walk safely in and out of the pool.  When using a wheelchair, consider the type you will be using.  Some wheelchairs are made of durable stainless steel and others made of exceptionally strong PVC construction.

Pool Lifts

While there are many manufacturers of pool lifts, offering you what seems an endless selection of options, it is important that you select a product that is made to the standards set forth by the ADA.  Pool lifts come in a variety of sizes, shapes, applications and prices, as well as powered manually or with electric motors.  Pool lifts are ideal accessories to existing pools that offer another alternative to enter and exit your pool.

There are portable pool lifts, as well as permanently installed units.  The pool lifts can be delivered with seats, pull-out leg rests, armrests, sling seats, boards, gurneys, and other attachments and accessories that fit the specific need of the individual.  The lifts can be manually lowered and raised.  Other pool lifts can be powered by batteries and motors.  Some even offer the option of a solar panel to keep the batteries charged.

Permanently installed pool lifts are those you will find in hotels and public pools.  The base of the pool lift is anchored to the pool deck.

Portable units offer the same functionality as their permanently mounted counterparts.  The difference lies in that these are usually larger to accommodate the required added mass of counterweights and wheels.  Some individuals prefer the convenience of the portable units as these can be moved out of the way when not needed, clearing the pool deck.

All the pool lifts are designed to lift the individual from the pool deck area and lower them into the pool.  To exit the pool, the pool lift process is reversed.

In special water access situations, as when you have an above-ground pool or a spa, the lifts offer the same functionality with the added extra reach in height to overcome the side walls.  Some of these lifts are designed to clear walls that are 5 feet high and walls that are 10-12 inches wide.

New Swimming Pools

In consideration of the desire to age in your home, and when dealing with new construction, many of the considerations offered should be included in the design, layout and procurement of equipment.  Homeowners should seek the advice of a CAPS-certified individual that can assist the designer with the general guidelines needed for effective sloped entries, stairs and handrails to create an attractive, yet functional solution.  Universal design can extend beyond the home and into the pool area.

Next Step Mobility offers its customers a no-cost assessment of their home to select water access equipment that best fits their needs and budgets.  We are Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS), trained and certified by the National Association of Home Builders.  Our team will assist you in considering potential factors for your situation – home mobility and accessibility, home modifications, budgets, type of disability, user limitations, and other factors.  Our team works with home remodelers to include universal design and attractive and functional solutions.