Board Releases Guidance on Playground Surfaces 

play surfaces guide (cover)New guidance on selecting and installing playground surfaces is now available from the Access Board. Developed by the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) at Indiana University with funding from the Board, the guide, “Seven Things Every Playground Owner Should Know About the Accessibility of Their Playground Surfaces,” (also available in PDF) outlines key considerations and steps in selecting, installing, and maintaining playground surfaces to ensure accessibility and compliance with accessibility standards, including those issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA).

The ADA Standards, which apply to many types of facilities in the public and private sectors, and the ABA Standards, which cover federally funded facilities, include provisions for play areas and play surfaces. These requirements address running and cross slopes, changes in level, and openings, and apply industry standards for accessibility and impact attenuation issued by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

The guide describes the most popular types of playground surfacing materials, such as poured-in-place rubber, rubber tiles, engineered wood fiber, and hybrid surface systems. It compares information on each of these material types, including installation methods, accessibility issues and considerations, maintenance, repair methods, and cost. This guidance is intended to help playground owners and operators make an informed choice in selecting surface materials and ensuring that they are properly installed and maintained for accessibility. It is based on findings from a Board-sponsored study by NCA completed last year that assessed the performance of different surfacing materials at 35 playgrounds over a 3-year period.

For further information, contact Jennifer Skulski, CPSI, Principal Investigator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (812) 856-4422, or Peggy Greenwell of the Access Board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272-0017 (v), or (202) 272-0075 (TTY).


Rail Advisory Committee Holds Weekly Conference Calls

trainThe Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee (RVAAC), which is assisting the Board in its update of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles, is convening regular subcommittee meetings by conference call in advance of the next full committee meeting in February. The committee has organized four subcommittees which are addressing sections of the guidelines concerning boarding and alighting, onboard circulation and seating, communications, and rooms and spaces. The subcommittees will prepare recommendations to the full committee on how these sections of the guidelines should be updated. The committee’s work is focused on those portions of the vehicle guidelines that apply to fixed guideway systems, including rapid, light, commuter, intercity, and high speed rail. The Board will propose updates to the guidelines for public comment based on the committee’s recommendations.

Members of the public can listen in on subcommittee discussions by phone or through real-time captioning. Further information, including connection details, is posted on the Board’s website.

RVAAC Subcommittee Conference Calls
1:00 - 3:00 (ET)

  • Communications Subcommittee: November 6, December 4, and January 8
  • Onboard Circulation and Seating Subcommittee: November 12, December 10, and January 14
  • Rooms and Spaces Subcommittee: November 20 and January 22
  • Boarding and Alighting Subcommittee: December 18 and January 29

RVAAC Full Committee Meetings
February 26 – 27 and April 23 – 24


Senate Bills Address Economic Access for People with Disabilities

Capitol domeSenator Tom Harkin of Iowa recently introduced bills in the U.S. Senate to promote economic independence for people with disabilities. The bills address access to housing, transportation, and exercise and call upon the Access Board to develop new accessibility guidelines and standards in each of these areas. They are based on findings from an investigation by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee into economic and employment issues faced by people with disabilities.

"To address the economic barriers Americans with disabilities still face, I am introducing three new bills as part of an 'Access for All' agenda to help them achieve the economic success necessary to be independent and lead full and fulfilling lives in their communities," stated Harkin who chairs the HELP Committee. "Today's report makes clear that even as more people with disabilities seek to enter the workforce, there are still too many barriers preventing them from becoming economically independent. When these Americans are not part of the workforce, they are much more likely to be stuck in poverty with no way of getting ahead."

The "Universal Home Design Act" would require certain accessibility features for single family homes and townhouses that are built or purchased with federal financial assistance. These include universal design features that would be established by the Access Board to ensure access to entrances, interior doors, environmental controls, and at least one indoor room, bathroom, and kitchen space. The bill also would create the Office of Accessible Housing and Development within the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The "Accessible Transportation for All Act" would require access to taxi services and ban discrimination based on disability by taxi companies and drivers. It would authorize competitions to create affordable and accessible taxi and car designs, require states to develop strategic plans to increase the availability of accessible cabs, direct the Access Board to issue accessible taxi standards and service standards, establish a new tax credit for access improvements undertaken by taxi companies, and create an Accessible Taxi Board at the Department of Transportation.

The "Exercise and Fitness for All Act" would require access to exercise and fitness equipment at gyms, heath clubs, colleges and universities, and other facilities, including treadmills, step machines, stationary bikes, rowing machines, weight machines, and circuit training and strength equipment. The Access Board would be tasked with developing new accessibility guidelines for such equipment within 18 months of enactment.

According to the HELP Committee report, people with disabilities often cannot participate in the workforce due to a lack of access to reliable transportation and to affordable housing, and they continue to report discrimination in the workplace, including wage inequality. The findings also address other economic issues and barriers faced by people with disabilities. Further information, including a summary of the introduced bills, is available on the Help Committee website.


Upcoming Board Webinars

laptop with Access Board sealThe next webinar in the Board's free monthly series will take place November 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will feature an advanced session on retail facilities and spaces. Presenters will review requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards covering parking, checkout aisles, sales and service counters, queues and waiting lines, and other elements. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar. An earlier webinar providing a basic overview of these requirements is available in the webinar archives. Participants are encouraged to review this archived webinar in advance of the upcoming session.

For more information, including registration instructions, visit

The webinar series is made available in cooperation with the ADA National Network. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are also available on the site. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits (CEUs).

Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series
The Board, in partnership with the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council, also conducts the Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series. These webinars provide helpful information and best practices for federal agencies in meeting their obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which ensures access to electronic and information technology in the federal sector. The next webinar in this series will be held November 20 from 1:00 – 2:30 (ET). For further information, visit


Justice Department Issues Guides on Voting Rights and Polling Places 

DOJ sealThe Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a guide to federal laws that protect the rights of voters with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act. The publication, “The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities,” is intended to help election officials, poll workers, and voters understand how these laws ensure equality in the voting process for people with disabilities.

In addition, DOJ also released a bulletin on providing access to polling places. “Solutions for Five Common ADA Access Problems at Polling Places” describes ways to address barriers to access at parking, sidewalks and walkways, building entrances, hallways, and voting areas. An earlier survey tool, “ADA Checklist for Polling Places,” is also available from DOJ.

Further information is available on DOJ’s ADA website at  or by calling DOJ’s ADA hotline at (800) 514-0301 (V) or (800) 5140383 (TTY).


Access Currents is a free newsletter issued by the Access Board every other month by mail and e-mail. Send questions or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (800) 872-2253 ext. 0026 (voice) or (800) 993-2822 (TTY). Mailing address: 1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000; Washington, D.C. 20004-1111.