A new American Disability Association-fixed chair has been installed at the Barnes Field House pool for patrons needing assistance into the water.
The chair was installed at Barnes two weeks ago and has since been used by more than 20 pool patrons, according to pool officials. The chair is mounted on the side of the pool and with battery use is able to lower a person in and out of the water.
The new chair can hold a maximum of 350 pounds and can be used by almost anybody. Children, teenagers, adults, Soldiers, civilians, anyone who needs it, anyone who has a handicap, can use the chair, according to Kevin Blackwell, architect, Directorate of Public Works. “Whether you are in a wheelchair or walker you can actually use that chair unassisted,” he added.
Blackwell received a work order from Barnes Field House manager Les Woods stating there was a requirement for an ADA-compliant pool chair. “There are personnel that use it every day from what I understand from the lifeguards, and it was very needed,” Blackwell said.
“Besides being sensitive to the needs of handicapped personnel, it is actually a law now. The Department of Justice came out with the requirement that said as of March of this year, pools were supposed to be ADA-compliant but they extended that until January 31, 2013. So we made that deadline here,” Blackwell said.
“It is important so people who do have a disability can utilize the pool and not feel hindered or embarrassed; … it is making [the pool] accessible to those personnel who might need it,” he added.
Fort Huachuca also has an outdoor pool, Irwin Pool, which should soon also have an ADA-compliant chair installed. Blackwell stated a work order was recently placed, and once funding is approved, a chair would be installed.
Blackwell imagined that before the chair was installed a lot of people would not come to the pool at all because of the need to have others assist them in and out of the water. “It was just a great inconvenience, so I would imagine a great number of people just didn’t even show up but now that they know that there is a chair at the pool, hopefully they start coming out and taking advantage of it if they need it,” he said.
For the patrons who have used the chair already, “so far they like it; it’s easy to use. We don’t have to help them, they can use it themselves, and they have it there for their leisure,” said Brittany Whiteley, aquatics manager.
About 30 percent of pool patrons will use the chair according to Whiteley, “We have a lot of water aerobics, and there are regular patrons that will use the chair.”
The ADA-compliant chair offers a variety of safety features including a safety belt and emergency shut-off switch. It can be operated manually by remote control, unassisted, from outside or inside the pool. It is battery powered, with no cords, and easy to recharge.
The chair is stationary but has an option of wheels that can be ordered so it can be lifted and rolled if needed. “This is a fixed chair and that is one of the requirements, that it had to be fixed, but those options can be ordered,” Blackwell said. The chair can be fully submerged and is silent to use.