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Board Proposes Guidelines for Federal Outdoor Developed Areas

Accessibility guidelines for trails were published in the Federal Register for public comment with an October 18th deadline.

Read the full text online of Proposed Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas. See more background on the proposed guidelines. See articles, comment, and details of the Americans with Disabilities Act and accessible trails.

From the Access Board, Washington, DC

The Board has released for public comment new accessibility guidelines for Federal parks and recreation areas. As proposed, the guidelines address access to new or altered trails, beaches, and picnic and camping areas on sites managed by the Federal government. Achieving accessibility in outdoor environments has long been a source of inquiry due to challenges and constraints posed by terrain, the degree of development, construction practices and materials, and other factors. In developing these guidelines, the Board seeks to clarify how, and to what extent, accessibility criteria can be applied to outdoor developed areas.

The guidelines specify where compliance is required and provide detailed technical criteria for achieving access. These specifications derive from existing Board guidelines for buildings and facilities, but have been modified and tailored for application to outdoor developed areas. Conditions that necessitate departures are recognized, including situations where meeting certain provisions would compromise natural features, require prohibited construction methods or materials, or be infeasible due to terrain. For example, a portion of a trail could be exempt from minimum width requirements where rock outcroppings or similar natural features restrict the trail width.

The guidelines were developed by a regulatory negotiation committee chartered by the Board. The Outdoor Developed Areas Regulatory Negotiation Committee's 27 members included representatives from parks and outdoor recreation associations, disability groups, state and Federal land management agencies, and others. This rulemaking approach enables interested groups and stakeholders to assume a leadership role in drafting a new regulation and provides a forum for different, and sometimes competing, interests to reach consensus on its substance. The Board's proposal substantively tracks the detailed specifications developed by the committee and submitted to the Board.

The guidelines would apply to sites developed or altered by Federal land management agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others. The Board intends to develop guidelines for outdoor developed areas controlled by non-Federal entities at a future date.

The guidelines, which are posted on the Board's website at www.access-board.gov/outdoor/nprm/, are available for comment until October 18th. A notice published with the guidelines discusses the provisions, poses questions to the public on various issues, and includes instructions for providing comments. Comments can be submitted by email, fax, or mail. In addition, the Board will hold public hearings on the guidelines in Denver on July 24th and in Washington, D.C. on September 6th. For further information, contact Bill Botten at botten@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0014 (v), or (202) 272-0082 (TTY).

Read the full text online of Proposed Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas. See more background on the proposed guidelines. See articles, comment, and details of the Americans with Disabilities Act and accessible trails.

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