The main pool at the Wingate Institute in Netanya is ready for today’s start of the European Short Course Swimming Championships..
(photo credit: ISRAEL SWIMMING ASSOCIATION)
Eighty-five percent of pools in the country recently visited by state inspectors fail legal requirements for being handicap accessible, the Justice Ministry announced on Tuesday.
Inspectors from the Office of Equal Rights for Persons With Disabilities reviewed 31 pools around the country and found that all but five of them had numerous and serious defects regarding accessibility.
Pools around the country have been required by law to be accessible for disabled persons since the 1970s along with updates to the law in 2004 and 2008.
However, there was official no enforcement mechanism until 2011 and the lack of enforcement has led to a lack of attention to the issue.
Under the law, pools must have parking accessibility for disabled people and a means of entering the water by ramp or chair.
The facilities must also have accessible dressing rooms and showers and the pool staff must undergo training to assist disabled persons.
Further findings from the review of the pools found that 23 of them have no accessible dressing rooms or bathrooms for those with disabilities, with many of them requiring special ramps and chairs to improve access to the pool or the bathroom.
Eight pools also had no way to enter the water in an accessible manner.
Avrami Torem, head of the Office of Equal Rights for Persons With Disabilities said: “Even in the summer of 2016, disabled people across the country cannot benefit from spending time during the summer at the pool... at many pools... we found that there is no awareness for the requirements of accessibility. Unfortunately, we see that without enforcement the rules are likely to be ignored.”
Torem added that 20% of the population has some form of disability.
The Justice Ministry said that all the pools lacking in disabled requirements had been sent warning letters that legal action could be taken against them if they do not amend the problem.