Considerations for Aquatic Facility Staff
As discussed, people with disabilities may want to participate in any one of the recreational aquatic activities a facility offers. For that reason, facility personnel and instructors should be well-trained in the needs of guests with disabilities. All staff should be trained seasonally on:
- the principles of good customer service;
- facility accessibility features and accommodations for guests with disabilities;
- program adaptations and policy modifications to facilitate inclusion of participants with disabilities;
- guidelines for communicating and interacting with people with disabilities, including disability awareness and sensitivity training; and
- intake procedures for accessibility and/or disability-related requests and protocol for implementation and evaluation.
Indeed, program instructors and customer service representatives should be advocates for the benefits of recreation, while encouraging and facilitating equal treatment and equal opportunities regardless of age or ability. All staff should have knowledge of the key features and benefits for each program and activity area along with the essential eligibility requirements. For example, customer service staff should be aware of the differences between a beginner swim lesson program and a water aerobic program along with the minimum skills required to participate in each program. This knowledge will enable them to better answer questions during the time of registration. Facility personnel should refrain from making program choices for the participant unless such guidance is sought. Enabling participants to select their own recreational aquatic activities has a positive influence on developing self-determination.