(WMC-TV) – The summer swimming season is right around the corner, and this year, public pools will have an additional mandate to follow.
A new requirement in the Americans with Disabilities Act means all public pools must install permanent chair lifts to allow people with disabilities easier access to the pools.
"The purpose of having the wheelchair lift or the lift within the pool system is just making sure individuals can be included in every array or every area," explained Victoria Bennett.
Bennett works with ARC Mid-South, an agency that advocates for people with disabilities. She says a lot must be considered when installing the equipment.
"The width of the lift and the width of the actual wheelchair for people that have disabilities," said Bennett. "And you want to make sure they have an area where they can be comfortable entering the pool."
There are hundreds of thousands of pools across the country that will require the upgraded equipment, which some experts estimate can cost around $7,000.
Bennett is hoping businesses and municipalities will have enough time to work the requirements into their budgets.
"I don't think everyone will meet that deadline, however, they have a target date in mind and at that point it can be revisited to see at that point who has come into accommodations as far as ADA rules and regulations are concerned," said Bennett.
Meanwhile, if they fail to install the equipment, public pool owners or managers could face penalties or possible closures.