A test drive: georg stirnweib carefully places his gloved hand on the wheel rims of his wheelchair. The new path, which is supposed to provide accessibility in the open-air swimming pool, appears to be steep. Stirnweib gives himself a jolt and rolls slowly down the hill. Then he brakes, turns around and mows his way up the hill again. "For a disabled wheelchair user the slope is no problem", he says. Test passed.
Stirnweib, second chairman of the barrier-free association in the district of erlangen-hochstadt, and manfred muller, commissioner for the disabled, take a close look at the new features in the wave outdoor pool – and are satisfied: "the rolling path that leads directly to the pool and the lift to get into the water have already been solved for wheelchair users", says muller.
Unfortunately, he himself was not able to accompany the renovation work, as he was only appointed as the city of hochstadt’s commissioner for the disabled in mid-april – at a time when the work was almost completed. "But everything is very well done", says muller.
Visually impaired people can now also use the open-air pool safely. Workers installed special floor tiles in front of the stairs. These draw attention to the stairs with their studded surface. Dangerous edges were blocked with signs and flower cubbies.
Nevertheless, manfred muller still sees a need for improvement. The changing rooms and sanitary facilities are not ideal for the disabled: "everything is still a bit improvised." wheelchair users can change in the changing room of the ice hockey team. The shower and toilet are located a few meters away in a separate room. But the latter has not yet been adapted to the needs of disabled people. "30 years ago nobody thought that disabled people would want to swim here", says muller.
The deficiencies are to be remedied in the next one to two years, promises mayor gerald brehm (JL). In a second construction phase, the city is taking care of the renovation of the children’s pool and the sanitary facilities. "We want to work closely with mr. Muller on this", says brehm. Because he knows the problems when non-disabled people plan for wheelchair users. "It often happens that the mirror is not placed at the right height", says muller. What use is a mirror to a handicapped person if he has to stand up to look at it?? Georg stirnweib’s wife also regrets that barrier-free planning is not yet anchored in the minds of many architects. "Many handicapped people need a couch to change – but often there is only one place to sit down. How to undress and undress there?", she asks.
It’s clear that georg stirnweib hasn’t been in hochstadt’s outdoor pool for over 30 years. Now it has the possibility to do so again. "I can manage with my wife’s help", he says. However, he does not yet know whether he will be a frequent guest.
"When something like this is new, there are naturally still concerns and shyness", says muller. It is understandable that wheelchair users are uncomfortable when they are lifted into the water with a kind of crane for all to see. Nevertheless, muller appeals to the people affected to overcome their shame and make use of the services offered.
Stirnweib has no difficulties with it. He is rather pleased that such progress has been made in the past decades. At that time, accessibility was still something of a foreign word. Today it is already standard in many countries.
And yet there is still room for improvement. Sometimes you get off the subway in rougher cities and there is a stair lift for wheelchair users – but unfortunately it is without electricity. You had to call someone to come and activate the lift. Too circumstantial, muller thinks. "Handicapped people must – to put it in good german – also grumble from time to time. Otherwise nothing changes." because while many facilities are already barrier-free, many heads are not yet.