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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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Water Slides


A wheelchair sits in front of a water slide at an aquatic facility.
A water slide at an aquatic facility.
An area of concern for aquatic facility managers is whether or not access needs to be provided to water slides. The new Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities provides an exemption for water slides. According to the U.S. Access Board's final rule, "Providing access to water slides would require extensive ramping or elevators which would make the slides cost prohibitive. Designers and operators are encouraged to provide access to smaller water slides, where possible. Recent designs for "leisure pools" have incorporated an accessible route to the top of water slides using the different elevations on a site. These designs provide increased access for individuals with disabilities." Sometimes in the absence of structural access, life guard or pool staff will take it upon themselves to facilitate access by carrying a patron up to the slide. THIS IS NOT ADVISED. Carrying a person can be a safety risk and create a position of liability for the facility owner. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Justice clarifies in the Title II regulations that "consistent with longstanding interpretation of Section 504, carrying an individual with a disability is considered an ineffective and therefore an unacceptable method for achieving program accessibility."



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