How to Improve Pool Accessibility

Blue wheelchair sitting beside a swimming pool

You’ve worked hard to create a welcoming backyard oasis for all your friends and family, and that means making sure guests have the swimming pool accessibility they need for the safe enjoyment of it. Modern commercial swimming areas are often built with ADA-compliant pool features, but private pools may not meet those same standards of inclusion. With the right design and pool equipment, you can get your pool ready for use by people with different mobility and ability concerns to ensure everyone can have a better, safer swimming pool experience. You can create a pool that’s easier to use for differently-abled persons while still making it a safer experience that helps protect them from accidental drowning injuries. 

Understanding the Need For Accessibility

It’s not uncommon for pool owners to not worry about swimming pool accessibility until it impacts their lives or the life of a loved one. From temporary injuries to long-term conditions and the effects of aging, there is a myriad of reasons your pool use needs can evolve over time. It’s also important to note that “accessibility” is not a single condition but refers to preparing the pool to meet the unique needs of the people using it. That can include easier entry, better support for a loss of dexterity, and improved utility for aquatic therapy.

Keeping Your Pool Safe

White mesh swimming pool fence installed around a modern swimming pool

While improving swimming pool accessibility is a prime concern, even ADA pool areas need to have the appropriate safety equipment to make sure your loved ones are protected. Thousands of lives are lost annually to accidental drownings, and a lack of safety barriers has been cited as a contributing factor in the majority of them. Many accessibility features and devices are designed to aid water entry and exit, making preventing unsupervised pool access even more important for the safety of all swimmers, especially those differently-abled.

  • Removable Mesh Pool Fences – With strong poles and rip-resistant mesh panels, this modern pool fence secures the perimeter of your pool area. Featuring a self-closing and latching gate, it deters climbing and helps make sure anyone entering the area has a competent swimmer there to assist them.
  • Swimming Pool Safety Covers – These custom-made covers are anchored around the edge of the pool, and the tear-resistant material is strong enough to support the weight of an adult, preventing accidental water entry.
  • Pool Safety Nets – Similar to covers, nets are designed to hold potential drowning victims up and out of the water until they can be pulled to safety. Safety nets can be tensioned, working over and around equipment and landscape features that make pool safety covers difficult to install.

Swimming Pool Accessibility Equipment

While there are plenty of assistive devices designed to meet ADA pool needs, each pool owner will need to determine what equipment is best suited to meet their unique needs. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common swimming pool accessibility features and equipment, but organizations like the Association of Aquatic Professionals, USA Swimming, the American Red Cross, and local affiliates may have more extensive options and resources available.

Lifts and Hoists

Designed to help mobility-impaired swimmers enter and exit the pool more easily, these bypass stairs and ladders by using a manual or electrical mechanism to lift people in and out of the water. These can be helpful for both wheelchair users and those who are semi-ambulatory who still want to enjoy full use of the swimming pool.


A common swimming pool accessibility modification on pools with stairs is the installation of a ramp that allows easier entry to the water. This avoids the addition of equipment around the swimming pool deck itself, making it a less intrusive approach when appropriate for the needs of your guests.


Swimming pool with an accessible railing. A potted plant sits beside the pool.

Railings are an important safety feature in and around the pool area. With wet surfaces that can easily become slippery, buoyancy and currents that shift a person’s balance, and the ever-present danger of submersion, handrails are a smart swimming pool accessibility choice for a wide range of conditions and concerns. Professionally installed, they can improve safety during entry and exit, while moving around the outside of the pool, and inside the pool during a wide range of activities.

Emergency Equipment

We’ve talked before about the need for emergency rescue, resuscitation, and first aid equipment around your pool. When improving swimming pool accessibility, don’t forget to factor ability concerns into the equation. Someone with limited manual dexterity may have trouble grabbing a flotation device. You may need to plan around getting potential drowning victims to a hoist instead of the stairs. Consider what may be needed in a worst-case scenario to help a distressed swimmer, and make the additions or modifications to your emergency equipment that are necessary.

Improving Accessibility and Safety

When considering your swimming pool accessibility, don’t forget to include the differently-abled persons you’re adapting your pool for and their care team. It can be difficult to discuss medical and aging conditions frankly, but it’s necessary to ensure the pool meets everyones’ needs while better protecting them from accidental drowning. They’re in the best position to understand the challenges they face, their abilities, and potential complications.

Get Your Free Pool Safety Quote

Your local All-Safe Pool installer is the go-to source for swimming pool protective barriers. Talk to your pro about your swimming pool accessibility needs and any equipment installation plans so they can take the proper measurements to give you the most accurate quote possible. Your written quote comes with no obligation while laying out your pool protection options. Get a free quote from your independent All-Safe Pool pro today.

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