Inside this issue:
Access Today, Fall 1997
NCA hosts symposium
on playground access
The National Center on Accessibility hosted a Playground Access Symposium,
September 8-10, at Bradford Woods, Martinsville, Indiana.
Approximately 40 park and recreation professionals from throughout
the Midwest and as far as Maryland, Utah, and Nebraska attended
the 2 1/2 day training course. Seven of the largest playground
equipment and surface manufacturers sponsored the training course
including: Landscape Structures, GameTime, Miracle Recreation
Equipment, Playworld Systems, Zeager Hardwood, Little Tikes and
Sessions discussed the proposed accessibility guidelines for
playgrounds, access issues, playground surfaces, accessible surface
testing research, equipment and innovative designs.
Peggy Greenwell of the U.S. Access Board and John McGovern of
the North Suburban Special Recreation Association and the National
Recreation and Park Association addressed the proposed accessibility
guidelines for playgrounds as currently submitted to the U.S.
Access Board by the Regulatory Negotiating Committee. McGovern
also gave an overview of current national complaints and litigation
before the U.S. Department of Justice.
Susan Goltsman, Landscape Architect and a founder of MIG Inc,
one of the leading national consulting firms specializing in children’s
environments, presented a special session on designing creative
play environments through the use of landscape, vegetation, water
Tom Kalousek of the Rockford Park District and president-elect
of the National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) presented on
the role of NPSI and the American Society of Testing Materials
in relation to accessibility for children with disabilities.
An entire day of the symposium was devoted to touring Indianapolis
playgrounds to discuss application of the proposed standards,
design and surfacing issues. Project Coordinator and Landscape
Architect for the Indianapolis Park and Recreation Department,
Trent Rondot toured training course participants through six playgrounds
illustrating applications for playground access along with design
and maintenance issues. Rondot attended the first NCA Playground
Symposium in 1994 and has since worked with the Indianapolis Parks
and Recreation Department to adopt a policy in which all new playgrounds
would provide access to elevated play components for children
using their assistive devices (i.e. crutches, walkers, wheelchairs).
For more information on access to playgrounds watch for the NCA
Playground Access Web page which is now currently under construction
studying soil stabilizers used for trail surfaces
Creating outdoor trail surfaces that remain firm and stable over time
and under varying weather conditions has been a consistent problem
for managers of outdoor areas. Soil hardening approaches
developed for other applications (e.g., logging roads, outdoor
sports fields, helicopter pads, etc.) have been used to provide
access for people with disabilities to outdoor trails. Yet,
there have been few systematic efforts to directly compare and
contrast these approaches to determine their effectiveness in
providing access to people with disabilities.
The National Center on Accessibility recently undertook a pilot
research project to compare the effectiveness of four surface
treatments for creating a trail surface accessible to people with
mobility impairments. This study will examine the effects
of the surface treatments on surface firmness and stability, the
costs of applying the treatments, and their relative maintenance
A 70' X 5' test trail located in a heavily used area of Bradford
Woods, Indiana University’s Outdoor Education and Leadership Center,
has been developed to test five trail hardening treatments and
an indigenous soil control plot. The trail base consists
of compacted soil indigenous to central Indiana. A 3"
surface of quarter minus aggregate has been applied to each of
the test plots. The following trail hardening treatments
have been applied to the test plots:
The control plot surface consists of 3" of indigenous soil
applied to the trail base.
- Stabilizer: a non-toxic, organic (ground seed hulls)
additive. Stabilizer, Inc., Phoenix, AZ
- Road Oyl Emulsion: a pine resin emulsion. Soil
Stabilization Products Co., Merced, CA
- Mountain Grout Soil Stabilizer: a hybrid polyurethane
system. Green Mountain International, Inc., Waynesville,
- Limestone dust: a byproduct of crushed limestone.
- Limestone fines: quarter minus limestone fines mixed
with base soil.
Data on the surfaces’ stability and firmness as well as weather
conditions and surface traffic will be monitored for a minimum
of 12 months. Results of the study will be reported in Access
Today and will be provided to the trail surface testing database
being compiled at the USDA Forest Service Sand Dimas Technology
and Development Center.
Board convenes first meeting of Regulatory Negotiation Committee
on Outdoor Developed Areas
The U.S. Access Board convened the first meeting of the Regulatory Negotiation
Committee on Outdoor Developed Areas June 26-27 at the Paralyzed
Veterans of America headquarters in Washington, D.C. The
National Center on Accessibility has been appointed to serve on
the committee. The committee is responsible for developing
consensus accessibility guidelines for trails, camping facilities,
picnic areas, and beaches covered by the Americans with Disabilities
Act and the Architectural Barriers Act. The committee will
need to address, within each of these categories, definitions,
scoping for new construction and alterations, and technical provisions.
The committee will not address land on which there is no development,
policies and operating procedures for facilities, or other program
The initial meeting of the committee provided an overview of
the Access Board and its rulemaking activities. The committee
was updated by Lawrence Roffee, Executive Director of the Access
Board, and David Capozzi, Director of the Office of Technical
and Information Services. Pete Swanson from the Federal
Mediation and Conciliation Services facilitated agreement on the
committee’s organization protocols. The protocols will guide
the committee in areas such as participation, decision making,
meetings, and the use of facilitators.
Future dates for committee meetings were established:
September 24-26, 1997 Santa Cruz, California
December 14-16, 1997 Location TBA
February 1-3, 1998 Location TBA
May 19-21, 1998 Location TBA
August 12-14, 1998 Location TBA
Updated information on the meetings of the Regulatory Negotiation
Committee can be found on the Access Board’s homepage at www.access-board.gov
and on the NCA homepage at
Playground access update
The final report of the Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Accessibility
Guidelines for Play Facilities is now available through the U.S.
Access Board. The Committee’s final report will serve as
the basis for Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to be published
late 1997 or early 1998 for public comment. Members of the
public including playground owners (park municipalities, schools,
day care facilities, etc), equipment manufacturers and playground
users, both adolescent users and adult caregivers, are encouraged
to become familiar with the document and provide public comment
to the Access Board on the recommendations at this time.
The final report is available on the homepage of the Access Board
or by phone order at 202/272-5434 (Voice), 202/272-5449 (TTY),
or 202/272-5447 (FAX).
seminar on golf access
The National Center on Accessibility hosted a one-day seminar on accessible
golf as a pre-conference to the annual tournament of the Association
of Disabled American Golfers (ADAG) this July in Lakewood, Colorado.
The seminar was presented in cooperation with ADAG and the Rocky
Mountain ADA Technical Assistance Center. During a session
on golf access-related litigation, Joe Russo of the Civil Rights
Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Jack Andre of the
Equal Opportunity Program Office of the National Park Service
updated attendees on complaints filed with the U.S. Department
of Interior and the impact to the golf industry.
NCA Director of Research, Dr. Edward Hamilton, presented on the
research study: Pace of Play of Golfers with and without Disabilities
and the results of the research conducted at the 1995 ADAG Golf
Tournament. All participants were videotaped on each Par
3 hole. Time intervals were recorded for each player.
Additionally, Gary Robb, NCA Director, presented on the status
of the turfgrass research currently being concluded at Rutgers
Resources specific to golf access for people with disabilities
are available through NCA and listed on the NCA homepage at www.ncaonline.org.
Easy Access Park Challenge project completed
The completion of the Limberlost Trail at Shenandoah National Park marked
the completion of the 150th Easy Access Park Challenge Project.
A ceremony commemorating the completion of the trail was held
on August 23 at the park. This 1.3-mile trail through
an old-growth forest of hemlocks is a 5-foot wide hard-packed
greenstone surface. The trail has less than an 8 percent
grade, a 65-foot bridge, a 150-foot boardwalk, as well as, benches
located at frequent intervals to provide resting areas.
Individuals with mobility impairments now will have easier access
to this magnificent natural area.
The Limberlost Trail project involved the planning of park employees
and dedication of many volunteers, primarily from Bell Atlantic
Pioneers of Virginia and youth groups working in summer conservation
programs. Donations from Culpeper Wood Preservers, Valley
Timber Sales, Wood Preservers, National Park Foundation, Shenandoah
Natural History Association, Wintergreen Nature Foundation, Bell
Atlantic Pioneers of Virginia, and many individuals provided support
to complete the Limberlost Trail.
The dedication ceremony was truly a celebration. Last fall, prior
to the unveiling of the completed trail, flooding from Hurricane
Fran destroyed the majority of the volunteer efforts. This setback
was temporary when Bell Atlantic made a generous donation to assist
the Pioneers in purchasing materials for reconstruction, and the
Pioneer spirit and dedication shone through as volunteers returned
to the trail to rebuild the damaged areas. Shenandoah National
Park Superintendent, Constance A. Rudd, summarized the appreciation
of many, ”Today, we come together to dedicate this trail and celebrate
the inspiration and spirit of service and support shown by all
who contributed to this project.”
Pioneers continue commitment of volunteerism
The Telephone Pioneers of America, the National Park Service, and the
National Center on Accessibility will celebrate the formal signing
of the new Memorandum of Agreement to continue their partnership
of support for the Easy Access Park Challenge (EAPC) program on
October 2 at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.
The EAPC program, administered by the National Center on Accessibility,
works to increase accessible opportunities for people with disabilities
in the nation’s parks through utilizing volunteer organizations
to provide support for park projects.
The Telephone Pioneers of America is the world’s largest industry-related
volunteer organization. Membership is made up of current and retired
employees of Bell Atlantic, Pacific Bell, US West, Southwestern
Bell, Ameritech, NYNEX, BellSouth, AT&T, Lucent Technologies
and the Stentor-related operating companies in Canada. With
the new Memorandum of Agreement, the NCA anticipates that there
will be an increase in accessible opportunities for visitors with
disabilities within the National Park Service. Park employees
will know that they have a committed volunteer base to draw from
to implement accessibility projects. The NCA will be able to provide
assistance to the parks in connecting them with a Telephone Pioneer
chapter that is interested in working on accessibility projects
and also will be available to answer project questions relating
Airlines and American Eagle employees volunteer at Mount Rainier
Not many people across the United States think about shoveling snow in
July. However, Mount Rainier National Park needed to remove snow
from pathways in the Paradise District to provide access for visitors
to this sub-alpine region. Thirty-seven employees and family members
from American Airlines and American Eagle volunteered for the
weekend of July 12 to assist the park in snow removal. Some
of the volunteers even flew in from Texas to assist with the project.
Volunteers removed snow from routes and completed some needed
trail rehabilitation. The Paradise District of Mount Rainier
received the second deepest snowfall in recorded history and by
July much of the snow had not melted. The park superintendent
and the trails supervisor for the project greatly appreciated
the “high-energy group” that completed a “phenomenal” amount of
work within the park. This was the fourth year these volunteers
have been involved with the EAPC program at Mount Rainer.
Cod National Seashore receives EAPC donation
Red Maple Swamp boardwalk at Cape Cod National Seashore in South Wellfleet,
Massachusetts is undergoing a renovation. Portions of the
boardwalk will be rebuilt to make them accessible for visitors
who use wheelchairs. Thanks to a donation received through the
Easy Access Park Challenge (EAPC) program, the park will soon
begin the initial retrofit phase.
Cape Cod National Seashore became eligible to receive funding through
the EAPC program because the Accessibility Coordinator had contacted
the National Center on Accessibility and identified projects to
be included as part of the EAPC program. The Red Maple Swamp project
met the criteria for the donation that was given to the EAPC program.
More information will be provided about the project as construction
Park employees interested in participating in the EAPC program
are encouraged to identify projects within their park that could
use the assistance of volunteers. Submission of potential projects
can be made to NCA with information including: project name, a
brief description, estimated cost, number of volunteers, materials
needed, and time frame.
Pioneers Chapter rebuilds Yellowstone route
Yellowstone National Park has a newly rebuilt accessible route from the
Fishing Bridge RV Campground to the Fishing Bridge Complex thanks
to the Wyoming Chapter of the Telephone Pioneers of America, Community
Entry Services Volunteers with Disabilities from Riverton and
Jacksonhole, Wyoming, and employees of the park.
The rehabilitation of this one-quarter mile route provides better access
for campers from the RV Campground to reach the Complex; which
has a store, gas station and other amenities. The volunteers spent
the weekend of September 6 widening, leveling, and blacktopping
the route and also dug trenches for the installation of wire for
lighting the trail. Campground users with and without disabilities
will have an improved route with lighting to access the Fishing
Bridge Complex. Yellowstone National Park employees greatly
appreciate the commitment of the Pioneers volunteering time to
complete another Easy Access Park Challenge project within the
installs new audio system
Visitors with visual impairments to Fort McHenry National Monument &
Historic Shrine in Baltimore, Maryland, will now have the opportunity
to listen to an audio description explanation of exhibits in the
Star Fort. A multi-channeled FM audio system will provide
visitors with pre-recorded descriptions of the exhibits and details
of the Star Fort. Previously, the interpretive information
had only been available through brochures and exhibit text. Future
plans for the new audio system include programming additional
channels in other languages for international visitors.
A formal dedication of the new system will be on October 2 in conjunction
with the signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Agreement for
the Easy Access Park Challenge program. The FM Audio System was
a project that was completed through the efforts of the Chesapeake
Council of Lucent Technologies Telephone Pioneers of America.
The commitment of these volunteers for the last two years has
provided funding and installation for the project with assistance
from the Patriots of Fort McHenry and Fort McHenry employees.
Access Board and Beneficial Designs partner to develop standards
for playground surfaces
by Kathleen M. Wong, Beneficial Designs
All surfacing materials used in playground construction will soon be
required to meet a new American Society for Testing and Materials
(ASTM) standard. ASTM PS-83, a provisional standard to determine
the accessibility of playground surface systems, was published
in April 1997. The standard applies to all surfacing systems
designed to be used under and around playground equipment.
In recent years, playground surfaces have evolved from unyielding
concrete to include hard rubber mats placed over asphalt, tan
bark, and a whole new generation of resilient, but durable, surface
systems specifically designed to cushion hard landings.
But the cushioning properties of these new surfaces often reduces
their ease of use for people who use mobility assistive devices
such as wheelchairs or crutches that tend to sink into and bog
down in the softer materials.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines
mandated that all public areas must provide an accessible route,
a lack of data for playground surface systems has left designers
and planners wondering which surfacing materials are both accessible
Recognizing the problem, the ASTM Playground Surfacing Task Group,
with the cooperation of the U.S. Access Board, set out to develop
a standard for playground surfaces in early 1994. Building
upon the research Beneficial Designs was conducting on a method
of measuring the work (energy) required to cross a surface in
a wheelchair, ASTM and Beneficial Designs began collaborating
to refine the method into a national standard.
The Beneficial Designs wheelchair work measurement method used
a device called the SMARTwheel, developed by Rory Cooper of the
University of Pittsburgh and the Highland Drive Veterans Administration
Medical Center. The SMARTwheel consists of a wheelchair
rear wheel fitted with strain gauges capable of measuring the
forces of propulsion applied to the pushrim by a rider.
As the rider propels the wheelchair from a stationary position
on the test surface, the torque data is recorded and analyzed
by a computer. The data analysis program calculates the
work per meter required for the wheelchair rider to travel across
the test surface.
In PS-83, the work required to propel a wheelchair over the test
surface is compared to the work required to propel up a 1:14 (7.1
percent) grade ramp, which is less steep than the maximum 1:12
ramp allowed by most accessibility standards. The rider
first follows a straight course and up a straight ramp.
The rider then propels around a turn on level ground and on the
ramp. If the rider does less work on the surface level than
the ramp in both cases, the surface is considered to have met
the standard and passed the test. The second part of the
provisional standard incorporates a surface regularity test to
measure the size and number of cavities large enough to potentially
cause injury or impede travel.
Within the next two years, several different laboratories will
test the same panel of surfaces and report their results.
At the end of this testing period, ASTM will compare all testing
results, analyze the reproducibility of the test method, and publish
a precision and bias statement.
Testing of playground surfaces with PS-83 will be done on a purely
voluntary basis until the standard graduates from its provisional
status. Once the standard is adopted and incorporated into
the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines,
play area designers such as architects and municipalities as well
as playground surface system manufacturers will need to reevaluate
their playground surfaces material selection options. If
the standard is included in the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s
handbook, PS-83 could be in general use even sooner.
A standard rating of the level of access of playground surfaces
will benefit children enjoying playground areas, as well as parents
and child minders who will more easily be able to access the play
area and keep a closer eye on their children. More children
and their parents will be able to maneuver in and access playground
areas to recreate together. Playground surfacing materials
that meet this standard will make it easier for playground designers
to develop areas for accessibility as well as safety. Making
playgrounds accessible is an important step toward providing equal
access for all. For additional information about surface
testing, contact Beneficial Designs at (408) 429-8447.
required to remove barriers
The U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts-based
Friendly Ice Cream Corporation recently entered into a consent
decree under which Friendly's will engage in an aggressive barrier-removal
program to increase accessibility throughout its chain of 704
restaurants in 15 States. The consent order requires Friendly's
to come into substantial compliance within six years. In the first
year, Friendly's will complete barrier removal at 117 locations,
including altering the entrances (removing steps, widening doorways,
and redesigning vestibules) at those 93 restaurants that currently
have inaccessible entrances. Other alterations required by the
consent order include redesigning dining areas to accommodate
wheelchair users; striping parking areas to include accessible
spaces; and altering bathrooms by widening doorways, increasing
unobstructed floor space, installing grab bars and accessible
door hardware. In addition, the consent order requires the company
to pay a civil penalty of $50,000.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice