Access Board Questions

The Board requests comments on the following questions related to the accessibility guidelines proposed by the Regulatory Negotiation Committee.

Question 1: The Board acknowledges the difficulty in reaching consensus on proposed accessibility guidelines for newly constructed and altered trails and appreciates the hard work of the regulatory negotiation committee. Throughout the committee’s deliberations, several alternative approaches to addressing trail accessibility were considered. Some of the approaches considered and rejected included applying different provisions to “front” country and “back” country trails; general exemptions from accessibility in some areas; different provisions based on levels of development; and requiring only a certain percentage of new trails to be accessible. A summary of the committee’s deliberations on these approaches is included in the preamble under the section on trails (T203). The committee reached consensus on the approach presented in this proposed rule. Should the approaches that were rejected be reconsidered? Are there other approaches the Board should consider? If so, please provide information on how the alternative approaches would be applied and their rationale.

Question 2: The proposed guidelines include conditions for exceptions from the technical provisions (T302). Condition 4 permits specific exceptions to the technical provisions for trails where compliance would not be feasible due to terrain or prevailing construction practices. The term “not feasible” is used in Condition 4 to specify what is “reasonably do-able.” It does not refer to the technical infeasibility or possibility of full compliance with the technical provisions. Should the word “practicable” also be used in this condition? That is, are there situations where it would be “reasonably do-able” to comply with the guidelines, but it is not “practicable” to do so? Should there be more guidance for determining what is or is not feasible or practicable in applying Condition 4? If so, what type of guidance should be provided? Should the guidance give specific examples of situations where certain provisions such as maximum running slope may not be feasible or practicable for a portion of a trail?

Question 3: A newly constructed trail that complies with the technical provisions for trails would be considered an accessible trail and is required to display a symbol designating the trail as accessible. The committee did not reach consensus on what symbol should be displayed on the sign. Some suggested that the International Symbol of Accessibility that is used to designate accessible features in buildings was not appropriate to designate accessible trails because the technical provisions for trails differ from the technical provisions for accessible routes in buildings, and using the International Symbol of Accessibility for accessible trails may convey the message that accessible trails meet the same technical provisions as accessible routes in buildings. Others suggested that the International Symbol of Accessibility be paired with the International Hiker Symbol. Comments on this suggestion or other suggested symbols are welcome.

The committee also recommended that trail signs provide detailed information about the trails’ running slope, width, cross slope, and other characteristics. This would enable people to make informed decisions about using trails based on the characteristics of the trails. On the other hand, it was noted that this approach might result in signs that would be too elaborate and complicated and some hikers might not be able to distinguish between the various characteristics to make appropriate choices. The Board requests comment on this issue. Information is provided in the advisory note to T321.2 showing examples of signs and other details. Question 25 also requests further comment on trail signage.

Question 4: The committee proposed that a beach access route be required where pedestrian routes are provided to or along the edge of a beach. Several exceptions to this general requirement are included in the proposed rule. Section T205.2.3 Exception 6 provides an exception for pedestrian routes that are developed along the edge of an existing beach, such as a boardwalk. Under this exception, beach access routes would not be required if the pedestrian route or boardwalk is elevated 6 inches or higher above the beach surface. The Board is concerned that this exception will not provide sufficient access for persons with disabilities, especially where lengthy elevated boardwalk systems are provided. In view of this, the Board requests comments on whether a higher threshold than 6 inches should be used.

Question 5: The proposed rule requires beach access routes to be a minimum of 36 inches in width. Should this width be increased? When beach access routes are less than 60 inches in width, a passing space of 60 inches by 60 inches would be required every 200 feet. Should the passing space be larger? Should passing spaces be provided more frequently than every 200 feet? The Board is interested in information from designers or operators who have provided beach access routes.

Question 6: The proposed rule requires beach access routes to extend to the water. The Board requests comments on whether beach access routes should connect managed elements and spaces often located on a beach such as beach volleyball courts, first aid stations, beach rental equipment facilities, and concession stands.

Question 7: The proposed rule (T308.3) requires the height of the cooking surface of a grill to be 15 inches minimum to 34 inches maximum above the floor or ground surface. Is the 15 inch minimum height too low? If so, what dimension should be used and why?

Question 8: The number of picnic tables, grills, benches, and other elements required to be accessible in this proposed rule is based on what is provided in an area. While no definition of area is provided, several examples are included in the advisory note to T206.2.2 to give guidance on what is intended. Areas may be “designated locations”, separated and identified by a name or connected to a separate entrance road. Areas may also be separated and include different settings on the same site. For example, a picnic area located next to a lake in a park is considered a separate picnic area from a pavilion with numerous picnic tables within the same park. Does the term “area” need to be defined? If so, please provide a recommended definition.

Question 9: Extensive information is included in the advisory note to T303.3 (Table A) on the degree of firmness and stability of a trail surface. The Board is seeking comment on whether the recommendations for the degree of surface firmness and stability should be based on the length of travel, the intended use, or the direction of traffic. For example, surfaces that are moderately firm or stable may be appropriate in areas where a cushioned surface is preferred (e.g., for a multi-use trail that includes equestrians).

The Board requests comment on the concept of having a range of requirements for what will qualify as firm and stable. For example, is it acceptable for a trail under .5 miles in length to be only “moderately” firm? Is it acceptable for a trail less than .1 miles in length to be only “moderately” firm and “moderately” stable? Further, is it appropriate to consider a surface firm if the wheel of a wheelchair sinks into it by .5 inch? And, is it appropriate to measure both firmness and stability by the same wheelchair penetration test? While this information is only advisory, the Board requests comments on whether it should be included in the advisory at all.

Question 10: Should the number of required accessible outdoor elements such as picnic tables, fire rings, and benches be increased from the scoping provisions in Chapter T2? In most cases, 50% of the elements provided are required to be accessible. Of those elements required to be accessible, 40% are also required to be connected by an outdoor recreation access route. The Board is interested in comments and alternatives to the scoping provisions for these elements.

Question 11: The guidelines issued by the Board in 2004 include changes to the technical provisions for reach ranges. The high side reach was changed from 54 inches to 48 inches maximum. Additionally, the low reach was changed from 9 inches to 15 inches minimum. These revised reach range provisions are included in Chapter T4. However, the proposed low reach for the fire building surface on fire rings was unchanged. The Board did not modify this provision since the regulatory negotiation committee specifically addressed the 9 inch minimum for this element. The Board is interested in comment on the application of the revised reach ranges to the various controls and operating mechanisms addressed in this proposed rule.