Assessment of Benefits and Costs of Final Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities

September 2002


The purpose of this assessment is to discuss and, where possible, quantify the benefits and costs of the final accessibility guidelines for recreation facilities issued by the Access Board under the authority of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The final guidelines supplement the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and provide additional guidance to designers, owners, and operators of recreation facilities on meeting their statutory obligations to make newly constructed and altered portions of facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities. The final guidelines address amusement rides, boating facilities, fishing piers and platforms, golf courses, miniature golf courses, exercise equipment, bowling lanes, shooting facilities, swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. The final guidelines apply to new construction and alterations.

The benefits of the final guidelines are not quantifiable, but are significant and are consistent with the President’s New Freedom Initiative for Americans with Disabilities. The primary benefit is the fulfillment of civil rights realized by individuals with disabilities. There are 52.5 million Americans with disabilities. Almost one in five adults has some type of disability. Among individuals 15 years old and over, 25 million have difficulty walking or using stairs. The final guidelines will result in newly constructed and altered recreation facilities that are accessible to individuals with disabilities and will enable them to participate in a wide range of recreational opportunities. Individuals with disabilities can also realize significant health benefits by participating in the range of recreational opportunities made accessible as a result of the final guidelines.

Designing facilities to be accessible from the beginning generally has minimal impact on the total construction costs of a new facility. Most of ADAAG does not add features or space to facilities, but rather requires that features commonly provided meet certain specifications so individuals with disabilities are included. In quantifying the costs of the final guidelines, the assessment has focused on requirements that add features to or have space impacts on recreation facilities. The total annual costs of the final guidelines are shown below. The assessment also discusses how the final guidelines affect small entities and steps taken to minimize significant economic impacts on them.

FacilityCost (millions)
Amusement Rides $2.5
Boating Facilities $10.8 - $18.0
Miniature Golf $5.4
Swimming Pools $8.0
TOTAL $26.7 - $33.9