Access Today, Spring 2001
Inside this issue:
Access Board Issues Final Rule for Play Areas
On October 18, 2000 the U.S. Access Board issued the Final Rule for Accessibility
Guidelines for Play Areas under the Americans with Disabilities
Act. The new accessibility guidelines address new construction and
alterations of play areas under Title II and Title III of the ADA,
among them-state and local park and recreation department playground
sites, day care centers with playgrounds, and restaurants, malls,
and amusement facilities with play areas.
The development of the Final Rule has been a multi-year process
dating back to 1993 when the Access Board created a Recreation Access
Advisory Committee to develop preliminary accessibility guidelines
for recreation environments including sports facilities, places
of amusement, play settings, golf, boating and fishing facilities,
and developed outdoor recreation facilities. The Final Rule for
Play Areas is the first of the recreation accessibility guidelines
to be issued in form of final rule.
Getting into the Swing of the Final Rule...
- Planners, facility owners, and groups such as parent-teacher organizations
should make the Final Rule for Play Areas part of their desktop
reference library. The Final Rule now supercedes all previous
drafts and proposed rules. The Final Rule has significant changes
from the draft recommendations released in 1994 and the widely
publicized Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in 1998.
- Recognize the Final Rule for Play Areas is a MINIMUM standard. A minimum
standard in any case is, basically, the least you have to do in
order to be accessible. Certainly adopting a practice of designing
beyond the minimum, even incorporating a universal design approach,
will give children more play opportunities. In addition, a universal
design approach can ensure access for adults with disabilities
providing supervision to children in play areas.
An additional number of ground level play components are required when elevated
play components are provided. However the number of ground level
play components has decreased from 50 percent to one third the number
of elevated play components from the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(NPRM) released in 1998 to the newly issued Final Rule.
|Accessible playground at Garfield Park in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Regulatory Negotiation Committee was concerned that some children with
disabilities would be unable to or would choose not to use transfer
systems to access elevated play components and wanted to provide
additional play opportunities at the ground level for those children.
Facilities planning new playgrounds will no longer be able to simply
choose an elevated composite structure. They will also have to plan
for accessible ground level play components to ensure access to
play for children of all abilities if they include elevated activities.
- Access to elevated play components can be provided through transfer system
or ramp. Ramps to elevated play components can provide access
for a greater number of children with disabilities than transfer
systems where children may not physically be able to transfer
up the steps or sociologically may not want to bring attention
to themselves transferring amongst their playmates. In the Final
Rule, ramp access is not mandated unless the play structure has
20 or more elevated play components. Even then, ramp access is
only required to provide access to 25% of those elevated components.
The "trigger" number to require ramp access has changed from 12
in the 1994 Recreation Advisory Committee Recommendations to 20
in the Final Rule. Parents, teachers and advocates for the inclusion
of children with disabilities recommend that where there is opportunity
to provide a ramp to the elevated play components where the child
can use his or her assistive device to approach it, to plan so,
thus eliminating the need for the child to leave their assistive
device as required by use of transfer systems.
- The Final Rule requires that ground surfaces along accessible routes,
clear floor or ground spaces, and maneuvering spaces within play
areas meet the new ASTM F 1951 Standard Specification for Determination
of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground
Equipment. There has been an ongoing debate as to whether loose
fill surfaces and specifically engineered wood fiber products
are accessible. With this new requirement, playground planners
should look for surfaces that meet the ASTM standard. Even so,
it is important to remember that many surface manufacturers will
show potential buyers that the surface meets the ASTM standard
in laboratory testing. Application of the surface may be different
at the play site from the laboratory. While the surface may meet
the standard in the lab test, it may not meet the standard during
day-to-day use at an actual playground site. The Final Rule incorporates
an additional requirement where ground surfaces are to be inspected
and maintained regularly to ensure compliance with ASTM F 1951.
Thus, the loose fill product may be initially cheaper to install,
however over the long-run it may actually cost more to maintain
as suggested in the Access Board's regulatory assessment.
The last step in the rulemaking process will be for the U.S. Department of
Justice to adopt these final accessibility guidelines as the enforceable
standard in the ADA. The Final Rule and the summary of the new guidelines
are available on the Access Board's web site at: www.access-board.gov.
NCA Partners to Study Surfaces for Beach
The NCA and Action Disability Advocates, Inc. are partnering to conduct a
study of beach accessibility relative to temporary surfaces for
|Various temporary beach surfaces being tested at Daytona Beach.
Nine different matted surfaces that can assist people of impaired mobility
to move to the water across a beach will be tested in Daytona Beach,
Florida through May 2001. Study participants will include those
with mobility and/or developmental disabilities using a variety
of mobility assistive devices. People who utilize canes, walkers,
scooters, crutches or manual or powered wheelchairs will be invited
to participate in the study. The focus of the study is on the perceptions
of the surface characteristics, such as the person's stability,
ease of movement, their impressions of their safety and how the
surface looks in terms of visual appeal.
The study will follow all applicable provisions for beach accessibility as
defined in the Final Report of the US Access Board's Regulatory
Negotiation Committee. Data will be collected on the installation
of each surface. Logs will also be kept on the maintenance needs
and durability of the surfaces over the course of the five-month
Findings on the study will be available through NCA once the project is complete.
NCA Partners with Illinois DNR
The National Center on Accessibility is partnering with the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources to conduct an accessibility
assessment of outdoor recreation areas at Wildlife Prairie State
Park. Description of the project will be posted to the NCA website.
NCA Appoints Two Accessibility Specialists
The National Center on Accessibility has appointed two new accessibility
specialists. The accessibility specialists will provide technical
assistance to requests for information on access to parks, recreation
and tourism that come into NCA. In addition, they will identify
new products for accessibility in parks, develop resource materials,
and present educational sessions in NCA training programs.
Susan Ostby is an 1998 graduate of Indiana University
with a BS in Recreation, concentration in Natural Resource Management.
Susan did her internship with the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources at Patoka Lake Reservoir with the interpretive programs.
Amy Patrick is a 1999 graduate of Indiana University
with a BS in Recreation and concentration in therapeutic recreation.
She has previously worked as a Recreation Therapist at the Lighthouse
for the Blind in Houston.
Please join NCA in welcoming Susan and Amy. Feel free to contact
them in the future for technical assistance at (812) 856-4422 (voice)
or (812) 856-4421 (TTY).
NCA Accepts Final RFP
The NCA has accepted a "request for Proposal" (RFP) for a study:
"Visitor Expectations and Perceptions of Program and Physical Accessibility
in Outdoor Developed Areas."
The purpose of the study will be to identify the perceptions
of people with disabilities relative to programmatic and physical
accessibility of outdoor developed areas in parks.
The study will provide guidance for park managers relative to
the accessibility of their park. Results of the study will be published
by NCA upon completion.
Supreme Court Hears PGA Tour Vs. Casey
What has been a win-win for golfer Casey Martin in his quest
to use a cart while participating in the PGA Tour now has Martin
and disability advocates holding their breath awaiting a decision
from the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation's high court agreed to the
PGA Tour's request to hear the case January 17, 2001.
In earlier decisions, both the U.S. District Court for the
District of Oregon and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled
in favor of Martin who requested the use of a golf cart as an ADA
modification in PGA tournament play. The PGA Tour first argued that
it was not covered under Title III (Public Accommodations) of the
Americans with Disabilities Act and second, that walking was an
integral part of golf tournament play where the use of the golf
cart would fundamentally alter the nature of the event. The case
is the first recreation-related case under the Americans with Disabilities
Act to be heard by the high court.
In December, the National Center on Accessibility signed on
to the brief amici curiae (friend of the court brief) submitted
by the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems.
The questions before the Supreme Court include whether Title III
of the ADA regulates standards established for competitors in athletic
competitions held a places of public accommodations; and, if so,
whether Title III requires professional sports organizations to
grant selective waivers of their substantive rules of athletic competition
in order to accommodate disabled competitors. A far reaching decision
by the Supreme Court could further define key principles of the
ADA including "public accommodation," "reasonable modification,"
and "fundamental alteration."
The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the case
before the end of this year's session in June.
NCA Completes Accessible Picnic Element
The National Center on Accessibility recently completed research on
the "Functional Aspects of Accessible Picnic Elements." The findings
from the research are aimed at assisting facility managers and park
planners in the acquisition of picnic elements including tables, grills,
and fire rings. The research was conducted by the University of Minnesota
for NCA at parks throughout the Minneapolis area. The purpose of this
study was to ascertain the perceptions of persons with and without
disabilities regarding the design and function of certain accessible
picnic elements. The complete report is available from NCA.
|Picnic table with extended top which provides accessibility.
One hundred and four (104) interviews were conducted from May
21, 2000 to September 9, 2000. Individuals were interviewed who
used wheeled mobility devices (wheelchairs or scooters), and also
individuals who did not use wheeled mobility devices. The questions
and results of this study generated a number of recommendations
regarding the design and function of certain accessible picnic elements.
What about the accessible elements (picnic table/fire ring/cooking
grill) is useful and well designed?
- Table designs that provide space for more than one wheelchair and/or the
wheelchair space(s) are situated for social interaction.
- Enough leg space/knee clearance for sitting close to the table, or nothing
blocking a wheelchair user's legs if they choose to transfer from
their wheelchair to the bench.
- Paved surfaces (e.g. concrete, asphalt) under grills provides greater
ease in maneuvering while using the cooking grill than loose gravel
or uneven grass.
- Stair step adjustment of cooking grill was perceived to be easier to manipulate
for those wheelchair users with limited arm strength.
What would have to change about the site elements to make them more useable?
- More information about location of accessible picnic sites. · More curb
cuts in various locations by popular attractions.
- More attention paid by managers to the issue of accessible tables being
moved to inaccessible locations in a park.
- Provide adjustable grill surfaces that can be more easily moved up and
down by a person with a disability.
The complete executive summary is available on the NCA website at www.ncaonline.org.
The complete report is available through NCA for $15.
NCA News on-line
NCA News is an informational electronic news service of the National Center
on Accessibility. Information includes research findings, technical
assistance, training course announcements, and articles specific
to access to park, recreation and tourism. The listserv postings
are delivered via email. Archives of postings can be accessed through
the NCA website. To subscribe to NCA's new listserv, visit the NCA
website at www ncaonline.org and
follow the links to NCA News.
Section 508 Final Rule to Impact Federal
Agencies Using Electronic and Information Technologies
Federal agencies using software, interactive information kiosks, and web
sites, now have further guidance to provide access to information
according to the newly released Section 508 standards. On December
21, 2000, the U.S. Access Board issued final standards for Electronic
and Information Technologies under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation
Act. The final standards apply to all electronic and information
technologies developed, procured, maintained or used by the federal
government. Federal agencies must ensure that this technology is
accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities
to the extent it does not pose an "undue burden."
Ray Bloomer and Dave Park look over the "Disability Rights Movement"
interactive kiosk on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum
of American History. The Kiosk is a prototype following the
accessibility criteria of Section 508 and using EZ Access techniques
developed by Trace Research and Development Center. For more
information on the EZ Access interface for kiosks, visit
The new standards apply to software applications and operating systems; web-based
information or applications; telecommunications functions; video
or multi-media products; self contained, closed products such as
information kiosks and transaction machines, and computers. Also
covered is compatibility with adaptive equipment that people with
disabilities commonly use for information and communication access.
The standards are based on recommendations from an advisory committee the
Board established for this purpose. The Electronic and Information
Technology Access Advisory Committee was composed of 27 members
representing industry, various disability organizations, and other
groups with an interest in the issues to be addressed.
The final standards, which will become part of the Federal procurement regulations,
will help Federal agencies determine whether or not a technology
product or system is accessible. The law also sets up an administrative
complaint process which becomes effective 6 months from publication
of the Board's standards.
The Access Board and the General Services Administration (GSA) are directed
to provide technical assistance to individuals and Federal agencies
concerning the requirements of Section 508. The Federal Information
Technology Accessibility Initiative (FITAI) is an interagency effort,
coordinated by GSA, to offer technical assistance, and to provide
an informal means of cooperation and sharing of information on implementation
of Section 508.The Access Board is currently developing technical
assistance materials on the new standards. Visit www.section508.gov
for more information.
Source: Access Board Press Release
Retrofitting for Accessibility
Join the National Center on Accessibility in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
for the training course "Retrofitting for Accessibility" September
24-28th, This training course is designed for maintenance professionals,
facility managers, site accessibility coordinators, and planners.
The course curriculum identifies the barriers encountered by people
with disabilities in both indoor and outdoor recreation environments
while focusing on practical solutions to optimize access in recreation
facilities. Training sessions include application of accessibility
standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an introduction
to the newly proposed accessibility guidelines for outdoor developed
areas and recreation facilities, and methods to maintain facilities
while ensuring access for people with disabilities. This four-day
training program includes interactive discussions and field visit(s)
facilitating new understanding and skill development for participants
to apply upon return to their facilities. Professionals involved
in the retrofit review and approval process will benefit from the
A prerequisite Disability Awareness Seminar is scheduled for
the first day of the training program. The seminar will introduce
course participants to information about people with disabilities,
characteristics, attitudes, physical and programmatic issues, and
legislation. The Disability Awareness Seminar is required of all
participants who have not previously attended an NCA course within
the past three years.