Beach Access: Assist Devices and Surfaces

A Research Report of the National Center of Accessibility Original Study Conducted at Bradford Woods (1993)



The lives of people with disabilities have been opened to a new era, an era of hope and opportunity. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act has made the elimination of architectural and programmatic barriers a reachable goal. Barrier-free designs for constructed facilities have become the expectation rather than the exception.

The advances in standards for architectural accessibility have moved our society to a point where we can begin looking beyond built environments toward outdoor environments to determine how people with disabilities might be given greater opportunities to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the outdoors.

Yet, stepping out of the built environment and into the natural environment provides greater challenges for accessibility than ever before imagined. This is especially true of beach areas, whether they are coastal or inland.

In response to demands for beach access brought on by the Americans with Disabilities Act, there has been a rush to develop new products. These products have centered on two approaches: assistive devices and surfaces. The quick development of these products and the lack of local distribution sites, has left individuals with disabilities and agencies wishing to provide beach access unable to adequately evaluate these products. Therefore, the National Center on Accessibility undertook this study to address the need for objective comparisons of the advantages and disadvantages of the available products.

Published January 01, 1993

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