Chapter 3: Benefits

3.1 Civil Rights

The primary benefit of the final guidelines is the fulfillment of civil rights realized by individuals with disabilities.38 The U.S. Census Bureau reports 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. They will be able to go boating and fishing with their families and friends. They will be able to enjoy swimming and relax in a spa. They will be able to play golf or putt on a miniature golf course. They can stay fit at the gym and use a variety of exercise equipment. They can go bowling. They can go on amusement rides with their families and friends. In the absence of the final guidelines, architectural barriers will exist that deny individuals with disabilities the civil right to participate in these recreational opportunities.

3.2 Health

Individuals with disabilities can realize significant health benefits by participating in recreational opportunities made accessible as a result of the final guidelines. The 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health presents evidence that regular physical activity greatly reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease; reduces the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer; fosters healthy muscles, bones, and joints; enhances mental health; and helps maintain function and preserve independence in older adults.39 Additional studies support the benefit of regular physical activity for individuals with disabilities.40 In the absence of the final guidelines, there will be fewer opportunities for individuals with disabilities to engage in regular physical activity.

Congress determined that the benefits of making newly constructed and altered recreation facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities justify the costs when it enacted the ADA by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. In adopting the final accessibility guidelines for recreation facilities, the Access Board has also made a reasoned determination that the benefits of the final guidelines justify the costs.