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U.S. Access Board Visits Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating Adaptive Boating Center

July 25, 2023

Yesterday, U.S. Access Board members and staff visited Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) Adaptive Boating Center in Annapolis, MD to learn about CRAB’s new accessible boathouse and marina and adaptive boating program for people with disabilities. Over the last five years, CRAB consulted with several organizations, including the Board and its Accessibility Specialists who provided technical assistance in the accessible design of the facility. With its grand opening on May 2 of this year, the Center offers an extensively accessible environment and unprecedented access to the Chesapeake Bay for people with disabilities.

Access Board member using a transfer box to board a CRAB sailboat
Access Board member using a transfer box and assistance from CRAB volunteers to board a CRAB sailboat.

Upon arrival, Board members and staff were welcomed by CRAB staff and volunteers who gave a sailing demonstration for members and staff to experience first-hand accessible boating on the Chesapeake Bay. Members and staff boarded either one of CRAB’s six sailboats or power catamaran by traversing CRAB’s accessible docks and, if needed, using CRAB’s adaptive boarding equipment, which includes four Aqua Creek Product’s “EZ2” model lifts and two transfer boxes and slides. Members and staff who use mobility devices and did not want to transfer onto a boat had the option to ride CRAB’s power catamaran, which allows guests to use a dock ramp to get on the boat without ever having to leave their seat or device. Before, during, and after the experience, Board members and staff were also assisted by CRAB staff and volunteers, who are trained to assist patrons with disabilities to an accessible and safe boating experience.

Board members and staff also toured the facility, led by CRAB Director of Marketing and Development Rebecca Gonser. The facility either meets or exceeds the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Standards with accessible guest parking spaces, an accessible electric vehicle charging station, five ADA-compliant restrooms, accessible picnic benches, adaptive technology, and an accessible marina, including 140 feet of raised floating docks. 

Paul Bollinger speaks to the Access Board
Paul Bollinger speaks to the Access Board about the history and development of the CRAB Adaptive Boating Center.

In addition, Board members and staff heard from CRAB President James Nolan and Executive Director Paul Bollinger, who discussed the private-public partnership in bringing the facility to fruition. In designing and building the accessible learning environment and sailing experience, CRAB collected feedback and worked with Board staff, the Maryland Department of Disabilities, the Maryland Assistive Technology Reuse Center, the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation, and the Bay Area Center for Independent Living.