Access Today: October 2011

2012 International Building Code Expands to Recreation Facility Access
 
While the US Department of Justice has been garnering headlines over the last year for adoption of the new 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, the 2012 International Building Code has quietly come on the scene as The new accessibility standard. In many ways, the new 2012 IBC may have far more reach for making recreation facilities accessible. For the first time in the IBC history, the model code includes technical provisions for recreation facilities.   
 
According to International Code Council Senior Staff Architect, Kim Paarlberg, “Recreational scoping requirements (i.e., what, where and how many) have been in the IBC since its inception in 2000. What is new is that the technical criteria (i.e., how to) provide access to specific recreational facilities (i.e., pools, playgrounds, etc.) has been added.” This means that any new construction or renovation of existing recreation facilities are now required to be accessible  where state and local code authorities reference the 2012 International Building Code (in addition to the DOJ 201 ADA Standards). While the 2010 ADA Standards are only part of a civil rights law that requires a complaint to be filed for enforcement to ensue, accessibility as part of a model building code would fall to enforcement by local building code officials. In reality, any entity required by the local authority to gain a building permit, have drawings reviewed, or be inspected prior to occupancy would have to follow the accessibility requirements for recreation facilities set forth in the 2012 IBC. As a result, a local building code official might also be inspecting a new golf course, sports field, fitness center, amusement park, swimming pool or playground for compliance with the accessibility requirements of the 2012 IBC.
 
Enveloping the revisions from the ADA accessibility guidelines into the IBC is yet one more step the International Code Council and US Access Board have taken to achieve harmonization between the two standard-writing agencies. Paarlberg works closely with the Access Board to continually track areas requiring revision and clarification between the two documents. Paarlberg further comments on the advantage of the ADA accessibility standards combined into the 2012 IBC, “DOJ has limited staff and resources to enforce ADA compliance. Code officials see plans before the project is even started, and are inspecting during construction. This is a more cost effective time to make corrections rather than after construction is completed.”
 
Scoping provisions for recreational facilities are in the 2012 IBC, Section 1109.14. Technical provisions for recreational facilities are located in the 2009 ICC A117.1 Chapter 11. Both the 2009 A117.1 and 2012 IBC documents are available for purchase through ICC, www.iccsafe.org.

Mush! NCA Visit to Denali Expands Range of Assessment Experiences

Accessibility assessments are not all measuring ramps, doors and toliets – the NCA assessment team can attest to that! The NCA team just returned from Denali National Park, north of Anchorage, Alaska. Upon special request from the park, NCA was on site to conduct an accessibility assessment of visitor experiences and make recommendations for improving access for people with disabilities.   This assessment even included the exhibit and working kennel interpreting the Alaskan Husky breed’s important role transporting people and supplies through wilderness areas.

“Each park is a new experience,” says Alice Voigt, NCA Accessibility Specialist. “We have assessed war-era batteries along the Pacific coast and even a lava tube trail at Hawaii Volcanoes. Kennels for the sled team of Alaskan Huskies, well, this is new too!” A special area in the park is designated for exhibit space depicting the evolution of the sleds used in mushing supplies out to remote areas of the backcountry when travel via motorized vehicles is near impossible in the winter.  All of the sleds are tactile. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the Alaskan Huskies.  All of the dogs at the kennels are bred and trained at the NPS facility. The ranger led program involves a description of the Alaskan Husky breed (its build and purpose), the breeding program at the kennels, and the training methods/selection process for a dog to be a successful contributor to the sled dog team. A brief demo of the “mush” follows. Volunteers and NPS staff select dogs to be a part of the demo team, hook the dogs up to their respective locations in harness, and a ranger un-pins the sled from its tether instructing the dogs, “Let’s go!”  The dogs run a short loop that ends in front of the visitor viewing area. Visitors are encouraged to take photos with the sled team at the end of the ranger-led program.
 
ADA Compliance: What’s the Big Deal About March 15, 2012?
 
When the U.S. Department of Justice adopted the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, there set into motion much information and MISinformation regarding compliance with the new standards. At NCA, we see a lot of marketing literature for “accessible” products and services. .  Recently there has been an influx of marketing to the parks and recreation field with misleading assertions about compliance with the new standards. Here is but one example aimed at aquatic facilities:
 
“Dear [Director]…Are you aware that as of March 15, 2011 the Department of Justice has adopted revised ADA Standards that effect Swimming pools, wading pools and Spas? The Department of Justice can impose fines of up to $110,000.00 and force you to comply if complaints are made, you may also be sued by individuals. Why take that chance, allow us the opportunity to bring you into compliance.”
 
Here’s some more information for you, the consumer, to use as you’re wading through product literature with new claims about ADA compliance.
 
First, March 15, 2011 was the date designated by DOJ for the revisions to the Title II and Title III regulations to take effect. The update to the regulatory language included expanded the definition of service animals, wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices along with addressing other policy issues such as ticketing. At this 2011 date, DOJ also gives entities covered by Title II and Title III the option to begin using the new accessibility standards for new construction and alterations to existing facilities.
 
March 15, 2012 is designated by DOJ as the compliance date where all entities covered by Title II and Title III must use the new (2010) accessibility standards. This means all new construction and alterations to existing facilities should begin utilizing the new standards. Of special note to the park and recreation industry, Chapter 10 of the new standards includes technical provisions for amusement rides, swimming pools, golf courses, boating facilities, fishing piers, and playgrounds. This date is important to the recreation industry as it marks a new era – for the first time since the passage of the ADA more than 20 years ago, we have accessibility standards specific to the unique features for recreation facilities. This 2012 compliance date does NOT mean that all existing facilities have to conform to the new standards immediately or by March 15. Adherence to the new standards is triggered for all new construction covered by Title II and Title III. ALL new construction of these types of recreation facilities must begin using the new 2010 standards. The triggers for existing facilities are a little different. Remember, there is no “grandfather clause” under the ADA. Facilities are not “grandfathered” into compliance. We simply view exisitng facilities differently based upon 1) whether they are undergoing alteration or 2) if physical or communication barriers exist to the program, good, service, or activity offered at the facility. If any type of rennovation or alterations is being made to the existing facility, the alterations must follow the new 2010 ADA Standards. Now….here is where it gets cloudy….for Title II entities (public entities of state and local government)—are there barriers to your programs offered at the facility? These barriers, like lack of access to the fishing pier, golf course, playground or swimming pool, should be identified in your Transition Plan and prioritized for barrier removal as an active means to achieve the Program Access (28 CFR 35.149-35.150) standard under Title II. For Title III entities (public accommodations) barriers to goods, services and activities should also be identified and prioritized as part of the Readily Achievable standard (28 CFR 36.304).
 
So does this mean I need to get lifts for all my swimming pools by March 15, 2012?
 
No….but…. The new standards trigger access 1) if you are building a new pool or 2) making an alteration to an exisiting pool. In those first two cases you would need to provide a primary means of access to the swimming pool – either a pool lift or sloped entry. 
 
And here’s the BUT…..say you have an existing facility, but no alterations/rennovations planned. Are there barriers to participation by people with disabilities? Can a person with a disability enter/exit the swimming pool by an accessible means? You still have a proactive responsibility under the Program Access standard to remove barriers and make your programs, services and activities accessible. So if you don’t currently have access into your swimming pool, that barrier should be indentified in your Transition Plan and prioritized for corrective action. Remember, transition planning under the ADA is an active responsibility until such time that you have removed all physical and communication barriers to programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. 
 
Confused? No problem. Feel free to give NCA a call. Our accessibility specialists on staff would be happy to answer your questions and discuss practical approaches to transition planning to improve access.  While March 15, 2012 is just around the corner, it doesn’t have to be a cause for alarm. Instead it should be viewed as an opportunity to look at the “big picture” and status of accessibility for your recreation facilities. Where are they at in terms of access? What barriers still exist? What plans can we put into place to continue efforts towards barrier removal and achieving total program access?
 
Proposed Guidelines for Public Rights of Way
 
The U.S. Access Board has issued proposed accessibility guidelines for public rights-of-way. The guidelines are open for public comment and are proposed to address access to newly constructed and altered public streets and sidewalks covered by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, in the case of those federally funded, the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) or the Rehabilitation Act. Many provisions are designed to ensure that public rights-of-ways contain a continuous accessible route that accommodates all pedestrians, including those who use mobility aids. These requirements also benefit many other users, including those traveling with strollers. The guidelines also address access for people who are blind or who have low vision and include requirements to mediate potential hazards along public streets and sidewalks. The proposed guidelines include tactile warnings at transitions to streets, accessible pedestrian signals, signalization at traffic roundabouts, objects that protrude into circulation paths, on street parking, passenger loading zones, transit stops, street furniture and other elements. The proposed guidelines are open for public comment through November 23, 2011 at www.regulations.gov.
 
There’s an App for That!
 
Editor’s note: The following is informational only. Mention of any products herein does not constitute an endorsement or promotion by the National Center on Accessibility.
 
With the growing use of smart phones, “There’s an App for that!” seems to become part of our popular vernacular. At NCA, we are always looking for new tools, yes, even new apps, to help us do our job even better. Tired of carrying around the new ADA-ABA accessibility standards? Greg Morrissey came up with his own solution by putting the accessibility standards into an easy-to-use app for iPhone. The app retails in the iTunes store for $1.99, search ADA / ABA Accessibility Guidelines
 
Will smart phone applications become the new wayfinding means to improve access? Digital design and development studio Winfield & Co. has launched their latest app: myNav: Central Park. This handheld digital wayfinding app provides users with an innovative way to navigate the complex network of pathways, destinations, and green space. myNav provides precise, location specific routing and directions for a discrete system of pathways on a rich detailed map. myNav is also available through iTunes for $1.99.
 
Interested in demonstrating the visual impact of color blindness during staff training? The app developed by Movisol shows a series of images to determine if the user has a problem viewing a specific color based on the composition and color combination. Color Blindness Test has a free lite version and a full version for $1.99.
 
Do you have a favorite accessibility app? Share it with nca@indiana.edu
 
Congratulations to ADA National Network
 
Last week the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research (NIDRR) announced the continuation of support to the national network of ADA centers through September 2016. NCA would like to extend congratulations and sincere appreciation to the many professionals that make up the national network of ADA centers for their continued service of technical assistance and education on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Navigating the ADA regulations can be challenging for consumers and service providers. The ADA centers provide a valuable resource to people throughout the United States. Thank you and congratulations. We look forward to your continued service and new opportunities to increase awareness of the ADA. For your regional ADA center, call (800) 949-4232.