Deadline Extended For Handicap-Friendly Oklahoma Swimming Pools

Sunday, May 20th 2012, 10:17 pm
By: News On 6

City leaders and local hotels have been rushing to make all pools handicap friendly. Now, they're getting a little extra breathing room to make sure it's done right.

For a person with disabilities, it's often not easy to take a splash. That's why President Obama revised the Americans with Disabilities Act giving them equal access to public pools.

"We just want to make sure that whenever a person with special needs wants to use a pool it's available for them to use right away," said James Cunningham, president of Metro Tulsa Hotel & Lodging Association.

The deadline for public pools to have handicap friendly lifts was Monday. Because of confusion in the fine print, that deadline has been pushed back.

Cunningham says since the lifts cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, it's important to get it right the first time.

"We certainly don't want to spend that money on trying to be compliant and find out at the end of spending that money we still aren't compliant," he said.

Russell Harders says the City of Tulsa has been ahead of the game for quite some time. Since 2008, four of the city's five pools have been equipped with portable lifts.

The fifth pool now has a permanent one.

"We've always tried to stay fairly proactive in these kind of things," said Russell Harders, maintenance mechanic.

Harders says it's fairly simple to maneuver. All the person has to do it sit in the lift machine, then they can move themselves over the water and lower into the pool with the touch of a button.

"The lifeguards will be trained to instruct people how to use them and to assist, but they're designed to be used by the actual patron," Harders said.

The new ADA requirements don't just affect hotels and city pools; apartments will also have to install a lift.

The deadline that to happen is now January 31.