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Making Your Swimming Pool Handicap Accessible

Incorporate these strategies to make your swimming pool accessible to everyone.

Hydrotherapy involves using water to relieve a host of physical symptoms. This can be particularly helpful for those confined to a wheelchair or those with other physical impairments that make mobility a challenge. However, getting in and out of a swimming pool can be much easier said than done - unless that pool is specially equipped to handle a wheelchair or other types of handicap access. We have tips that will easily transform your backyard pool into a therapeutic oasis that everyone can enjoy.

Pool Lifts

Pool lifts are devices that lower a person into and out of a swimming pool. This option is the best by far for an above ground pool or a spa, where a ramp may not be a sensible choice. The lift will generally include a seat that the person can sit in to be transported into the water. It is a good idea to find a lift that includes foot and hand rests, because these offer additional stability during the transport process. A seat back is also a good idea to keep the person safely in the seat during transport. It is also important to have a clear deck space to allow the person room to get from a wheelchair to the lift and back again.

Pool Ramps

If you have an in-ground pool, a ramp is also a viable option for handicap access. Ramps are usually installed on one side of the shallow end of the pool and come equipped with handrails on one or both sides for increased stability. It is important to note that most wheelchairs are not designed for submersion in water, due to the electrical equipment onboard and the metal hardware used to hold the chair together. If this is the case, you may need to consider the purchase of an aquatic wheelchair that is specifically designed for water access.

If your pool is already installed, and it is not feasible to add a built in ramp to the design, there are portable ramps available for this purpose. If you choose a portable ramp, make sure the surface of the ramp is completely slip-proof and that it is installed correctly for stability. There should be a level platform at the top and bottom of the ramp and handrails must be installed on either side for safety.


Another option for making a pool handicap accessible is to provide a zero-depth entry. This is like a long, gradual ramp into the shallow end of a pool that makes it easy for very young children and those confined to wheelchairs to safely access the water. Companies like Walt Disney have created numerous public pools with zero-depth access and backyard pools can follow these larger designs. It is important to ensure that zero-depth entry leads directly into a shallow, level area of the swimming pool.

Everyone deserves the chance to cool off in a backyard pool on a hot summer day. If someone in your family is confined to a wheelchair, there are plenty of options for handicap access that will allow your family member to enjoy the outdoor oasis with the rest of the clan.