Sunday, December 23, 2007

Public Provides Input on Accessibility Guidelines for Federal Outdoor Sites

Over 80 organizations, agencies, and individuals provided feedback to the Board during a four-month comment period on accessibility guidelines it proposed for Federal outdoor developed areas. In addition, almost 40 people provided testimony at a series of public hearings on the proposal held in Denver, Washington, D.C., and Indianapolis.

The Board received comments from professional and trade groups, including the National Recreation and Park Association and the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, individuals with disabilities, disability groups such as the American Council of the Blind and Paralyzed Veterans of America, the National Center on Accessibility and other organizations involved in outdoor recreation, trail and park operators, Federal agencies, including the Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service, and state and local parks and recreation agencies.

The proposed guidelines address access to new or altered trails, beach access routes, and picnic and camping areas on sites managed by the Federal government. They specify where compliance would be required and provide detailed technical criteria for achieving accessibility. Many comments endorsed the structure and application of the guidelines, including limited exceptions based on terrain and other conditions, and provided recommendations for further clarifying coverage. Pointing to the strong need for the guidelines, respondents encouraged the Board to promptly complete this rulemaking, to follow-up with similar guidelines for non-Federal sites, and to develop supplementary guidance and training materials.

Most comments addressed trails and outdoor recreation access routes and called attention to compliance concerns and areas where further guidance is needed, such as in determining adequate surface firmness and stability. Information was provided on trail signage and map systems and other subjects in response to questions posed by the Board in its published proposal. Commenters also provided input on access to beaches, including proposed criteria for access routes and compliance and maintenance concerns, picnic areas, and camp sites. The Board is analyzing issues and will finalize the guidelines based on its review of the comments and hearing testimony

from American Trails, Dec 14, 2007
see Public Comments on Proposed Guidelines for Federal Outdoor Developed Areas
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