Accessibility and ADA
Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails (NPS)
Accessible facilities comply with the accessibility guidelines and standards. A site, facility, or program is either accessible or it is not accessible. The only way to evaluate accessibility is to evaluate the facility’s compliance with the guidelines in effect at the time it was designed, constructed, or altered. There are no shades of accessibility. For instance, a parking space either complies with the standards and is accessible, or it doesn’t comply with the standards and is not accessible. The specific technical provisions of the standards for surfacing, slope, and the size of the parking space and walkway connection must be met, regardless of the conditions around the parking space. “Almost” doesn’t count.
AAASP was founded in Atlanta after the 1996 Paralympic Games and in response to a groundswell of interest by parents and community officials in competition opportunities for students with disabilities. With years of relevant program experience, a vision for a sustainable competition model and a fast commitment to enhancing the future of these students, Bev Vaughn and Tommie Storms founded AAASP. The idea was to mobilize community support while offering a programming solution that was easy to adopt
A Braille Nature Trail is a nature trail with Braille informational signs and physical aides that allow the visually impaired to experience the trail unassisted. Braille trails usually include a guide rope for the visually impaired to hold and follow along the path with markers for Braille informational signs. Some trails have tactile walkways to provide direction, others have audio components such as guided audio tours or smartphone access, and many are wheelchair accessible.
Nature for the Blind
Being outdoors and getting physical exercise is important for health and well being. Access to the outdoors and nature is important to the health and education of all individuals regardless of age, location or physical capabilities.
Braille trails and sensory gardens offer sustainable and accessible ways to safely experience the outdoors and provide opportunities to interact with nature. Tactile additions such as Braille signs, guide ropes and path markers allow the visually impaired to enjoy trails and gardens without assistance, and accessible pathways remove barriers to mobility regularly experienced by those with disabilities.
Cerebral Palsy Guidance
For someone with a physical disability, like those often caused by living with cerebral palsy, getting out and enjoying nature is more of a challenge. To do the kinds of things that non-disabled people do without even thinking about it requires many more steps, as well as accessibility accommodations, and even adaptive equipment. To set up a tent or to hike an easy trail may seem ordinary to someone else, but to a child or adult with cerebral palsy it may feel daunting or even impossible. Spending time outdoors, enjoying parks and trails should be something that everyone can do, and it is possible.
Scientific proof that e-bike users have gains in physical activity consistent with cyclists. Learn more HERE.
Below are resources and guidelines that provide detailed specifications for accessible trails, picnic and camping areas, viewing areas, beach access routes, and other components of outdoor developed areas for new builds and for altering existing trails. While there are exceptions for situations where terrain and other factors make compliance impracticable, it is important to understand the guidelines when beginning, updating or expanding any trail project. Exceptions are also recognized where compliance would conflict with the Endangered Species Act or other applicable laws.
- Architectural Barriers Act
- Federal Rules Regarding Mobility Devices: The federal ADA guidelines on mobility devices
- Americans with Disabilities Act: Rules for Accommodation: Questions and Answers on proposed ADA trail guidelines
- Shared Use Pathway Accessibility