TERRI MESSLER: Good Afternoon. My name is Terri Messler. And I am also here as part of the NRPA working group to provide public comment. Thank you for allowing us to be here this afternoon. I am most recently -- a little bit about myself -- most recently past president of the Florida Recreation and Park Association. And my real job, I work for Florida State Parks, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks. We have a vested interest in what you're doing here today and what we're doing with these accessibility guidelines. We have 161 state parks. 720,000-plus acres that we manage. 1600 miles of trails. 100 miles of beaches. 3800 campsites. And last year we had 19 1/2 million visitors to our parks. In addition, we have 6,000-plus volunteers who contribute over a million hours in our parks, many with disabilities so we are looking at trying to move forward with making our parks as accessible as we can make them.
Again, I am here as part of the NRPA working group. And I'm going to cover the trail questions.
Question number one "the approach in the proposed rule making requires new trails to be accessible and recognize conditions that lieu for departure from the technical provisions.
Right now we have no information to suggest that another approach would be better or more effective. But it might help to know the number of trails, new trails created annually on federal lands as a way to evaluate other possible approaches."
Question 2. Regarding trails, condition four described in Section T302 on page 34085 permits a trail to deviate from requirements when compliance would not be feasible due to terrain or prevailing construction practices. The term "not feasible" is defined as something that is not reasonably doable. The Access Board asks whether the word "practicable" should be used to instead or in addition to "not feasible" and reasonably doable. Merriam Websters website online dictionary defines" practicable "as capable of being put into practice or being done or accomplished.
The board also asks whether more should be provided to land managers and the public and if so, what type of guidance. We think the addition of phrases such as practicable to this section is not necessary. There's no need to add another term and another definition. We prefer the use of the existing term "technically infeasible" and recommend using the following phrase: "Compliance is technically infeasible due to terrain or prevailing construction practices."
Question 3. This is the signage question that was mentioned earlier. We agree a sign is necessary and should reflect the outdoor environment. Therefore, in the mode of thinking about the outdoors, we suggest using green, not blue, and we prefer the sign on the top row to the left on page 34131 which is the hiker icon and the wheelchair icon. We do not feel that the international symbol of accessibility is recommended in designating a trail as accessible.
We'd also suggest the addition of four beach pictograms or icons on the Happy Falls trail we were looking at on 31414 or the rotation of the a person in the wheelchair and the icons with an ambulatory person.
We also prefer the grade profile which is found in the lower Yosemite fall trail outline on page 34135. We thought that the profile was more helpful than the trail profile on the Happy Falls trail, gave better information to the person who wanted to use the trail.
Finally, an important message on these signs is the distance into the trail from the trail head at which the first significant condition arises that permits a departure from the technical provisions.
In other words, how far can a person go before they can't go anymore?
Question 9. We believe this advisory language should be retained but enhanced to reflect current technologies and ways to reassure penetration. We also suggest that the description of T303 examples to be redesigned to include bullet lists with examples of common surface types and a spectrum of sieve sizes under each category. It would be clearer, simplify it somewhat and easier to understand.
Question 19. Yes, we agree that open drainage structures are the only structures where this departure should be permitted.
Question 25. Again, this is a rewording, I think, of the signage question. The international symbol of accessibility is not recommended for use in designating a trail as accessible. Repeating, we recommend the top left icon and green in color to designate a trail as an accessible trail and again, alternating the wheelchair icon with the hiker icon. And we'd like the element in both sign examples on pages 34134 and 34135. We generally prefer the layout as far as clarity and information of the Happy Falls trail with the grade profile that I mentioned before.
Question 26. The notice of proposed rule making section T322 establishes criteria for protruding objects, including a minimum 80-inch head clearance. The Regulatory Negotiation Committee could not reach agreement to complete a complete departure of this provision if the minimum overhead clearance could not be provided. We support retaining the application of the four conditions for departure with regard to protruding objects. However, we suggest that surface treatments (such as crushed stone or gravel) prior to getting to the overhead protrusion being included to warn you have a hazard or protrusion on the trail. Thank you, again, for allowing me to comment this afternoon.
PHILIP PEARCE [BOARD MEMBER]: I've got a couple of questions or one question specifically, one thing I will tell you is the hiker icon that you referenced in your comments, it has been suggested that that really looks like somebody with a jet pack on their back that's fixing to blast off over the guy in the wheelchair. So we've also got some redesign, maybe, efforts to put forward with that.
One of the questions that I have, just to ask for your opinion about this if no matter what color it is, if the wheelchair symbol or icon is used on a sign, what do you think that that will designate to people relative to the accessibility of an outdoor area, given the understanding that in the indoor environment, in the built environment, it's a fairly simple thing? You know, if you meet all these provisions, then everybody who sees that icon will know what they can expect as far as accessibility. Outdoors is a little more iffy than that. And so what's accessible to some people may be absolutely inaccessible to other people. And so that's been one of the concerns is that we have an answer that if we put an icon on a sign, what does that tell people? What does that indicate? So what is your feeling about that?
TERRI MESSLER: Well, I know that has been discussed and I've had that discussion with several people myself, whether regardless of color, blue, pink, what does that tell people to expect? And I agree, the built environment is so much easier than the outdoor environment, that's why I realize that's a tricky issue. But I also think with the additional information on the signs, similar to what we were looking at and that is promoted by the universal trail assessment process, with the information of the cross slope and the maximum slope and those kinds of things, the outdoor environment's different. You need to look at what's there and then make a decision. So I don't know the complete solution to that but I know it's an ongoing conversation.
PHILIP PEARCE: So if I understand what you're saying is that if that icon is used, then that would trigger in someone's mind that there are accessible elements on this trail and then the additional information on the sign would say here is what we mean by accessible or whatever. And then it's up to the individual to determine whether or not that really is something that they could do, and if it says, you know, 50 miles of accessible trail, they can go, under no circumstances is that all that accessible to me. And that's what we are going to struggle with, I can tell you, so I'm very interested in hearing the reactions and the comments and the thoughts that people will have relative to that so I appreciate that.