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Accessible trails proposal moves forward for public comment

Accessibility guidelines for trails published June 20, 2007 in the Federal Register for public comment.
See more on the proposed guidelines
See articles, comment, and details of the Americans with Disabilities Act and accessible trails

The Short Version

Guidelines for accessible trails will be included in proposed rules for Federal agencies. This is another step in the process to establish clear requirements for building trails to accessible standards. The "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" is based on the guidelines developed for the Access Board in 1999.

June 20, 2007 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in the Federal Register with public comment period ending October 18

July 24, 2007 - Public hearing in Denver, CO

Sept. 6,, 2007 - Public hearing in Washington, DC

Oct. 18, 2007 - Deadline for public comment on the proposed guidelines

Questions and Answers on the current proposal

The Access Board has developed proposed accessibility guidelines for outdoor developed areas in a continuing effort to provide guidance on design and constructing accessible facilities. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) provides guidance on the design and construction of newly constructed and altered trails, outdoor recreation access routes, picnic and camping facilities, and beach access routes. The NPRM is based on a final report from the Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Outdoor Developed Areas, presented to the Board in September 1999. This 27 member Regulatory Negotiation Committee, including all the Federal land management agencies, represents a consensus approach to making outdoor developed areas accessible to persons with disabilities.

As a first step, the guidelines in this NPRM will only apply to outdoor developed areas constructed or altered by Federal agencies. The guidelines do not apply to outdoor developed areas constructed or altered by other entities with Federal funds. Future rulemaking is planned for Federally funded outdoor developed areas and those areas covered by title II (State and local government) and title III (places of public accommodation) under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The NPRM is presented as a stand-alone rule and not a part of the ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines. It is based, however, on the same format and numbering system.

What is the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Outdoor Developed Areas?

This is the next step for the Board in establishing minimum accessibility guidelines for trails, picnic and camping facilities, and beach access routes. The notice will be published in the Federal Register and formally begin a public comment period on the proposed accessibility guidelines. The format of the proposed rule includes a preamble (background information about the committee and the various provisions), the text of the provisions, and the regulatory assessment report on the proposed rule.

Is the NPRM different from the final report from the Regulatory Negotiation Committee?

The content of the final report has not been modified, but the proposed guidelines will only apply under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). When the committee negotiated the proposed guidelines, it was intended that the guidelines would apply under both the ADA and the ABA. For a variety of reasons, the Board decided to separate the rulemaking process and begin with proposing the guidelines under the ABA. After this is completed, rulemaking under the ADA will follow.

The Architectural Barriers Act requires access to facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with Federal funds. Passed by Congress in 1968, it marks one of the first efforts to ensure access to the built environment. The Board develops and maintains accessibility guidelines under this law.

How long is the comment period and what will happen during this time?

There will be a 90-day comment period on this NPRM. The date begins on the date that it is published in the Federal Register (June 20, 2007). The notice will be available on the same day of publication on the Access Board's website.

During the comment period, two public hearings are planned: July 24, 2007 in Denver, CO and during the September 5-7 Access Board meetings in Washington, DC. The hearings provide an opportunity for verbal comments. Electronic comments will also be accepted. All comments will also be available for public review.

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