September 26, 2013

Access Board Issues Final Rule for Outdoor Developed Areas

A man seated in a wheelchair and a woman seated on a bench watch Old Faithful.

On September 26, the U.S. Access Board published its Final Rule on accessibility standards for outdoor developed areas including trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, scenic viewing areas and beaches.  The new standards are part of the Architectural Barriers Act.  The final rule applies to the following federal agencies and their components that administer outdoor areas developed for recreational purposes: Department of Agriculture (Forest Service); Department of Defense (Army Corps of Engineers); and Department of the Interior (Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service).

"We are excited by the issuance of the new accessibility guidelines for outdoor developed areas. These new guidelines seek to balance providing equitable access to the outdoors for people with disabilities within the constraints of the natural environment that we all seek to enjoy. The Access Board is to be commended for its dedicated and excellent work in this long process. NCA is proud to have served on the advisory Outdoor Developed Areas Regulatory Negotiation Committee (1997-99) that provided recommended guidelines that served as the genesis for this rulemaking process," said Dr. Sherril York, Executive Director of the National Center on Accessibility.   

The final rule also applies to non-federal entities that construct or alter recreation facilities on federal land on behalf of the federal agencies pursuant to a concession contract, partnership agreement, or similar arrangement.  The new standards will become effective November 25, 2013.