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Accessibility Standards & Guidelines

These documents cover several aspects of outdoor and camp program considerations including facilities requirements, trail access, parking, and more.

Accessibility Standards & Guidelines: Text
Cabin by the Lake

U.S. Access Board

     The U.S. Access Board, in conjunction with various Federal departments, provides ongoing standards and guidelines in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA). The ADA and ABA Standards are developed from the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), and are both similar in language, content, and provisions. ADA and ABA Standards are design requirements for construction and alteration of applicable facilities. ADA Standards apply to places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities. ABA Standards apply to federal buildings, national parks, public housing units and mass transit systems. The U.S. Access Board has also developed guides to both the ADA and ABA Standards which help to understand and implement the use of these standards.

     ABA Standards were revised in 2013 and now include provisions for several types of recreation facilities including swimming pools, boating facilities, play areas, sports facilities, trails, picnic and camping facilities, viewing areas, and beach access routes. The ADA and ABA Standards should be considered “minimum” requirements when considering inclusive and accessible facilities and programs. These guidelines provide both scoping and technical provisions detailing several aspects of compliant building, design, and construction. Outdoor recreation and camp programs would particularly benefit from consideration to Chapter 10, which discusses recreation facilities. These resources are provided below.

U.S. Access Board: ADA Standards

U.S. Access Board: Guide to the ADA Standards

U.S. Access Board ABA Standards

U.S. Access Board: Guide to the ABA Standards

U.S. Access Board: A Summary of Accessibility Standards for Federal Outdoor Developed Areas

U.S. Access Board: ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)

Accessibility Standards & Guidelines: Text
Quiet Forest

USDA Forest Service

     In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service revised and published its Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails. This resource was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Access Board and details the application and implementation of both the Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines (FSORAG) and Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines (FSTAG). These guidelines are enforceable at all National Forest System lands, and also serve as a useful resource for other organizations, programs, and agencies hoping to maximize accessibility while maintaining the unique characteristics of outdoor recreation and trails. This guidebook considers the thinking, planning, designing, construction, and maintenance of accessible outdoor recreational and trail projects.

     Detailed within the Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails are thorough explanations of why accessibility is important, directions and tips for best practices, highlights of universal design principles, tools for developing accessibility, and applications of these guidelines among other useful information for outdoor recreation and camp programs. It is highly suggested that each and every outdoor recreation and camp program review this guidebook to further support and develop their inclusive and accessible practices. Trail access, facilities design, program adaptations, disability etiquette, and much more are included. Click below for further information.

USDA Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails

USDA Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines (FSORAG) Pocket Version

USDA Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines (FSTAG) Pocket Version

Accessibility Standards & Guidelines: Text
Image by Pedro Lastra

U.S. National Park Service

     The National Park Service (NPS) developed a multidisciplinary Accessibility Taskforce to acknowledge their accessibility shortcomings and discuss strategies to address these issues and broaden access for a wider range of audiences in All In! Accessibility in the National Park Service 2015-2020. This document provides perspective on inclusion and accessibility in National Parks and discusses the current state, need for change, and challenges integrating accessibility practices into operational activities and planning in National Parks. All In! identified three separate goals to work toward, complete with a vision, and outlined strategies for reaching each goal. The NPS acknowledges that these goals are merely a starting point, from which further development is necessary.

     While All In! pertains particularly to the U.S. National Parks; the information, goals, and strategies for reaching these goals have similar applications when considering outdoor recreation and camp facilities. Aspects of All In! that several organizations can learn from are the emphasis on culture change, community partnership, increased staff education and training, and improvement of new and existing programs, facilities, and services. As All In! was written as a five-year strategic plan for 2015-2020, new information could be coming out shortly about goal-achievement and the effectiveness of these strategies. This insight could be of additional benefit for those who aim to improve their inclusion and accessibility.

All In! Accessibility in the National Park Service 2015-2020

Outdoors for all: How national parks are addressing accessibility challenges

Accessibility Standards & Guidelines: Text
Wooden Cabins

ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities & Recreational Checklists

     In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the subsequent 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, the Institute for Human Centered Design has produced the ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities and Recreational Checklists. These documents are intended to help identify accessibility problems and provide potential solutions in existing facilities to meet ADA obligation needs. The checklists describe how to use them appropriately and how to plan to make an existing facility more usable for people of all abilities. Priorities for accessibility in order are: approach and entrance, access to goods and services, access to public toilet rooms, and access to other items such as water fountains and public telephones. These checklists are available in several formats and readily available to print and be filled out. As with all ADA obligations, these are considered minimum requirements, and efforts to improve inclusion and accessibility can extend beyond the scope of these checklists. 

ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities (includes multiple versions of documents & Recreational Checklists)

Accessibility Standards & Guidelines: Text

Transportation & Parking

     Individuals may require accessible transportation to and from outdoor recreation programs, camps, or even within the various activities at these programs. At an individual level, if personal transportation isn’t possible, often community-based transportation services are available to accommodate a variety of individual needs. Individuals requiring transportation services can benefit from reaching out within their regions of travel for more information. At a program level, organizations and companies can benefit from appropriate planning, foresight, and accommodations. Outdoor recreation and camp programs should provide information about transportation and parking for participants so they may be prepared. This includes if personal accommodations are needed, if any community-partnering transportation services are available, how many accessible parking spaces are available, and any other descriptive information that could aid in individuals understanding what experience they can expect.

Camp Transportation Page Examples:

Camp Awakening: Transportation Explanation (with FREE wheelchair-accessible bus transfer) 

The Nature Place: Transportation Explanation

Community-based accessible transportation services:

National Aging & Disability Transportation Center

How to Find and Use Accessible Transportation in Your Community

WE Transport

Easterseals: Transportation Services 


2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design: Accessible Parking
How do I know if my parking lot is ADA compliant?

Accessibility Standards & Guidelines: Text
Accessibility Standards & Guidelines: Text
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