Peter Axelson

Owner with Beneficial Designs, Inc.


Peter W. Axelson received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design in 1979 and an M.S.M.E. degree in Smart Product Design in 1982, both from Stanford University. He is the founder (1981) and the Director of Research and Development at Beneficial Designs, Inc., a rehabilitation engineering design firm that works towards universal access through research, design, and education. With funding from various federal agencies, Beneficial Designs developed a system to measure and define outdoor recreation trails (Universal Trail Assessment Process, or UTAP). Beneficial Designs then obtained additional funding to design the computerized High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process (HETAP) and the Developed Outdoor Recreation Assessment Process (DORAP). Trail Access Information, included on trailhead signage that meets Architectural Barriers Act requirements, benefits people with mobility impairments, parents with strollers, hikers with low vision, aging outdoor enthusiasts, and many others. This universal design approach to consumer information also helps inform other companies on how to make technologies more accessible to people with cognitive impairments. Peter Axelson and his staff at Beneficial Designs continue to work on standards for improved accessibility for ski areas, amusement parks, playgrounds and other outdoor recreation environments, as well as design improvements for recreational and fitness equipment for people with mobility impairments. Beneficial Designs has also guided the development of universal design standards for sidewalks and trails across the country. The company has also developed a variety of technologies to improve seating and mobility systems for people who use wheelchairs. Peter has served on the American Trails Board of Directors, and has been a member of standards committees for the Recreation Access Advisory Committee to the U.S. Access Board (U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board) and also the Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Outdoor Developed Area Guidelines. In addition, he is Secretary of the RESNA Standards Committee on Adaptive Ski Equipment, a member of the RESNA Standards Committee on Wheelchairs, a member of the Paralyzed Veterans of American Research Foundation Board of Directors, and a member of the ASTM Playground Surfacing Systems Subcommittee. Peter regularly gives presentations at the annual RESNA and Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals conferences. He recently presented research about assistive technology for airline travel at the PVA Summit & Expo. He is a regular guest lecturer in the Perspectives in Assistive Technology course at Stanford University. He has taught the trail assessment process at dozens of workshops over the last two decades. Peter is an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast. He enjoys cross-country and alpine skiing. He likes hiking in his street wheelchair, Cobra, and all-terrain vehicle. He also enjoys kayaking, canoeing, and rafting.

Contact: peter@beneficialdesigns.com