Ammundsen says most disabled can use new pool
The Coastlands Aquatic Centre will be able to be enjoyed by people with a range of disabilities, says Council.
Earlier, Kapiti Independent reported distress among disabled people at the lack of an access ramp in the new Aquatic Centre, which is due to open in the Paraparaumu Town Centre in March.
But Councillor Diane Ammundsen says information circulating in the community that the pool complex doesn’t cater for disabled users is incorrect.
She says: “Right from the start we have engaged with specialist disability groups and listened to what they had to say. I am confident the vast majority of disabled people who want to use the pool can do so in a supportive and dignified manner.”
Cr Ammundsen says it hasn’t been possible to put a ramp in the lane pool because of the moveable floor.
“We searched internationally for a solution but just couldn’t source a ramp that could be used in a deep pool with a moveable floor,” she says.
“Instead, we’ve opted for a wide access stair with handrails that can be used with the moveable floor. The steps adjust to the variable depth of the pool, remaining horizontal as they move up and down, and can easily be removed when required.
“There is built-in ramp access in the programmes (learners area). Because this pool is shallow and warmer, it is the pool we expect most disabled swimmers will use.”
Cr Ammundsen says a user-operated lift chair, requested by the Disability Reference Group, is not commonly available in other New Zealand Aquatic Centres but may be a possibility in the future.
Councillor Ammundsen says the proposed design of the facility passed an audit by Wrightson Associates, a specialist company that checks the design of facilities to make sure they are accessible for people with disabilities.
She says: “They gave the documentation on the proposed centre their top mark and said it demonstrated “a genuine commitment to provide quality compliance.”
“The audit investigated ‘the coordinated interests of building users with disabilities with and without mobility aids such as walking sticks, walking frames, guide dogs, crutches, wheelchairs (manually propelled and motorised scooters) as well as a wide variety of visual, hearing and cognitive capabilities.'”
Cr Ammundsen says the company reported there were ‘no significant matters of non-compliance’ and left the Council with a check-list of nine tasks to be completed during construction.
She says the report was subsequently vetted by ASC Architects and almost all the issues raised had been dealt with.
“The general view of experts in the field is that it is very hard to make public swimming pools accessible for 100 per cent of disabled people. In the end we have gone for the universal principle, which is to cater for the majority,” she adds.
“A range of other requirements, all listed in the Building Act for safe and appropriate disability access, would be dealt with by the time the Centre opened.
“These include: car parking, signage for people who are visually impaired, footpaths ramps and landings, entrances, corridors, doorways and doors, stairways, lifts, toilet and shower facilities. A hoist will be provided for access to lane swimming and spa pools, as will removable access stairs. We also have a very good team of trained staff on hand to help.”