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Standards for Accessible Ground and Floor Surfaces

From Beneficial Designs Inc.

To: Trail managers and builders; Landscape architects; Trail accessibility coordinators; Surface, soil stabilization, and carpet manufacturers; Architects; Surface testing laboratories; and User interest groups

From: Denise Chesney, Chair RESNA Standards Subcommittee on Ground & Floor Surfaces and Peter Axelson, Chair RESNA Technical Guidelines Committee

Date: 15 September 1999

Subject: American National Standards for Ground & Floor Surfaces Meeting Announcement

The RESNA Standards Subcommittee on Ground & Floor Surfaces will be held on Friday, 22 October 1999 from 2:00 &endash; 4:00 PM, in Nashville, Tennessee. This RESNA Standards Subcommittee is being formed to develop ANSI/RESNA test methods for determining the firmness and stability of indoor and outdoor surfaces (e.g., carpets, trails, playgrounds) used for pedestrian access. RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) is accredited through ANSI. Background information on the formation of this subcommittee and the scope of the work is attached.

American National Standards for Ground & Floor Surfaces

Scope Summary

Guidelines for surface accessibility are needed to provide non-discriminatory access for people with disabilities. These guidelines would also improve accessibility for all persons, regardless of their abilities. Surface accessibility guidelines would improve access to a vast number of areas, including recreational facilities, playgrounds, beaches, parks, outdoor stadiums, boating and fishing docks, campgrounds, and hiking trails, as well as large buildings such as convention centers, and airports.

Research Related to the Measurement of Firmness and Stability of Surfaces for Accessibility

Extensive research has been conducted with funding from the National Institutes of Health on the development of a portable surface measurement device for objectively measuring the firmness and stability of ground and floor surfaces. This device is called the Rotational Penetrometer. Measures of firmness are obtained by pressing a wheelchair caster into a surface with a given amount of force and measuring the amount of vertical penetration into the surface. Then, the caster is rotated back and forth on the surface and a stability measurement is obtained by measuring the total amount of vertical displacement after rotation. The device has been shown to produce repeatable results that correlate with the amount of work required to propel a wheelchair across the surface.

With funding from the Access Board (US ATBCB), human subject testing was recently completed which determined the amount of energy required for persons with and without disabilities to negotiate various outdoor surfaces. The physiological measures (oxygen consumption, heart rate, velocity, and ratings of perceived exertion) and level of difficulty ratings correlated highly with the Rotational Penetrometer measurements. This research resulted in recommendations for the measurement of the firmness and stability of outdoor surfaces.

Standard Development Recommendation

A standard for measuring surface firmness and stability would provide builders, building and landscape architects, site planners, property owners and managers, and others with the objective information needed to build and maintain accessible indoor and outdoor surfaces. It would also provide a means to determine and compare the relative degree of accessibility of access routes and trails in the outdoor environment, and provide individuals with information about surface characteristics (access information) at specific locations.

A RESNA subcommittee has been created to develop a standard for the firmness and stability of ground and floor surfaces. Objective, performance standards are needed for the firmness and stability of recreation trail and outdoor access route surfaces, as well as indoor floor surfaces, including carpet. The subcommittee will develop a performance test procedure for the measurement of firmness and stability of surfaces with a disclosure.

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