Welcome to the ADA Distance Learning series, hosted by your regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center. This month''s session is about the application of the ADA to playgrounds. We are lucky to have with us John McGovern. Hi John.
Good to have you here. John is the executive director of the North Suburban Special Recreation Association, serving the park districts north of Chicago. He is the former president of the National Therapeutic Recreation Society and represented the National Recreation and Park Association on the U.S. Access Board''s recreation access advisory committee and the U.S. Access Board''s regulatory negotiating committee for playgrounds. This session is currently real-time captioned on Great Lakes web site at www.adagreatlakes.org and on the web site you will also find a handout that John has so graciously provided for us today that lists some of the frequently asked questions and some resources. If you didn''t get that handout you can go download that now. If you don''t have Internet access you can get that after the session. So with that said, I will turn it over to you, John for your presentation and then we will go ahead and open it up for questions.
Great, thank you Jennifer. Hi everyone. I''m happy to be be here. For the next 30 minutes or so I will walk through some of the key points I think parks and recreation agencies as well as advocates for accessibility need to keep in mind with regard to making new playgrounds accessible. We will also spend a little bit of time talking about how these guidelines issued by the Access Board apply to existing playgrounds. I should also throw out the disclaimer even though I chaired the first advisory committee for the Access Board and was an active member of the playgrounds reg neg committee I''m really just sharing my opinion with you, it''s not necessarily the opinion of the U.S. Access Board. Although my gosh I hope we usually agree by now. Let''s start by just acknowledging that in my mind there are really three critical issues with regard to making a playground accessible. One is the surface, the other two are ground level play components and elevated play components. The handout that I have breaks the discussion for this session up into those three areas. I will start with the one that I think is most important and that''s surfacing. In all of the committees and in the Access Board''s own deliberations, a lot of time was spent on the subject of what makes a playground surface accessible. You also have to remember that at the same time that the Access Board was developing this, there was a substantial movement across the country towards making playgrounds more safe. When I say more safe, I mean safe to the point that they prevented catastrophic injury. I think the industry and safety experts acknowledge that children and adults for that matter, on playgrounds are still going to get bruises and abrasions but trying to prevent catastrophic injury is a key part of the owner/operator''s responsibility as well as manufacturers. So with that in mind, from an accessible perspective, what makes a playground surface accessible? Well one of the keys is that there has to be a measurable test and the American Society for Testing and Material has developed that and you can find a reference to that on page 22 of the Access Board''s technical assistance document, it''s referred to a the ASTM F 1951-99 standard. In a nutshell, that standard measures whether or not a playground surface that''s accessible can be moved across by a person using a wheelchair. There are some specific measures that are examined and I won''t go into those, but it''s basically a movement or maneuverability exam. We had great debate in the committee about how to address surfacing and accessible routes. In the end, we settled on a approach that gives the owner or operator two basic choices: One is that the entire playground surface can be made accessible. The other is that an accessible route of accessible surfaces can be used to weave through the playground and connect the accessible components. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. If you use the entire surface approach the cost of the surface at least today, in today today''s market with the products we have, is going to be considerably higher at purchase and installation. If you use the other approach where you have an accessible route that connects the accessible play components your initial cost will be lower, but your maintenance costs will be significantly higher. Over time, I believe, will exceed the cost that you would have incurred if you would have just made the entire surface accessible. Unfortunately there is not a lot of research on that. You are really just getting my opinion on that. I think in the next five years as we see more and more playgrounds comply with the new requirement that we will have enough comparative information to make a decision there. One of the other key questions here is what surfaces are accessible? Again looking at what''s on the market today. There are really only three basic types of surfaces that you can use for the accessible portion of a playground surface. One is poured in place rubber, another is interlocking rubber mat systems, and a third and a somewhat controversial choice, is engineered wood fiber systems. Wood fiber is very, very different than wood chip. If you hold your hand up and stick your thumb up in the air, that''s roughly what wood chip looks like. If you hold both your hands up ask interlock your fingers together, that''s how engineered wood fiber is supposed to function. The fibers are supposed to knit together to form a surface that permits movement and absorbs shock through displacement. As with any other wood fill system there are significant issues with engineered wood fiber. Imagine a kid playing tag in engineered wood fiber, a loose surface, and she makes a 90 degree cut to avoid being tagged as it. Her foot leaves a mark in the playground surface. That mark may be a significant enough depression that the next person following her who might be using a wheelchair or assistive device is not going to be able to get over that. So the Access Board in a break from past tradition did permit the use of engineered wood fiber only if it is compacted more quickly than usual, and so long as it is regularly and frequently maintained. Now the $64,000 question is what exactly is regular maintenance and what exactly is frequently maintained mean? When I talk to parks and recreation professionals with a lot of experience in playground maintenance, they look at this from a safety perspective and they say regular maintenance means that an employee is on that playground site at least once every two days if not more frequently raking out uneven areas, filling with excess engineered wood fiber in areas that have been significantly eroded or displaced and compacting it with either water or rollers or some combination of the two. You can see from that brief description that this regular and frequent maintenance requirement is going to involve a significant amount of human resources in addition to the purchase price and the installation price. I think as time goes by we will see a wider variety of surface materials. I think Jennifer wants to talk a little bit about a surface project toward the end of our call today. I know here in Illinois and Ohio, and a handful of other states, vendors are working to develop other types of products that will meet the accessibility requirement. But right now, if an agency puts in a new playground, and if they claim the accessible surface is one that includes wood chip, pea gravel, shredded recycled rubber without some other treatment, sand, or some other product, it is almost assuredly not an accessible surface. Let''s move on and talk a little bit about ground level play components. Wherever we could in the committees, we tried to use existing industry, playground industry definitions, so that manufacturers and buyers as well as owners and operators would have a clearer understanding of what we meant by different types of components. Our definition of ground level play components which is found in the Access Board''s technical assistance piece on page 5, is pretty much what we had wanted it to be. It says a ground level component is one that is approached and exited at the ground level. And while in use, the user might be suspended in mid air, for example, a child on a swing seat, but getting into the swing occurs from the ground and when exiting the swing it is to the ground. When we talk about elevated play components I will distinguish the two because the obvious argument even for an elevated play component eventually you end up on the ground and in the beginning you start on the ground. But how you access the component is different. With regard to ground level play components, I''m sorry that I don''t know each of your backgrounds, but we had a significant debate about just what exactly constitutes a different component. In our meetings and in the Access Board''s final guideline, they impose a requirement that at least one of each type of ground level components must be accessible. On page 10 they say the types are limited to rocking, swinging, climbing, spinning, and sliding. If you want to think of these as the experiences that you get or the outcome that you have from using the component you could look at it that way. I also think, though, that a sixth category exists, that''s manipulative. Things like tick tack toe boards or math boards, I think those also include play components such as talk tubes, which are a very stimulating piece that you see more and more in playgrounds across the country today. So I always add that as a sixth requirement and am comfortable doing so as we all know the Access Board''s requirement are really just a minimum requirement. We talked a lot about what makes a ground level component accessible. If you have one of each type and you are supposed to make it accessible what exactly is that supposed to look like at the end? First it''s going to be connected by the accessible route. As we discussed earlier the accessible route is going to be made of a surface that allows for maneuverability and passes the ASTM test. Second, that between the route and the component there is a clear ground space. We call it a parking space. A box of a minimum of 30 inches by 48 inches where the assistive device, if there is one, can be parked. Third there has to be maneuvering space of a 60-inch diameter circle or T shape in the technical assistance manual they did a good job of illustrating that. Fourth, if there is an entry point or a seat on the component, for example, a spring rocker that is shaped like a horse, that seat has to be between 11 inches and 24 inches above the surface. This is consistent with transfer heights and it''s also consistent with other ASTM safety requirements. I think while we are mentioning rockers as an example, spring rockers it''s a good point to interject one of the other discussions that we always had. Think about spring rockers. If you are a child going to the playground, is a horse spring rocker different than a porpoise, is it different that a rocket ship spring rocker, you get the idea. And of course to a child, those are all different components. But to the owner/operator, to the manufacturer, to the safety expert, and even to the advocate, they are not different components, they are all the same. In practice, if a playground has five spring rockers it could have a rocket ship, a train, a police car, a horse, and it would only have to make one of those accessible. Fifth, this is really an unfinished issue in my opinion, to make a ground level play component accessible it must address appropriate reach ranges. I think that in our committee work we really failed in this area, there was not enough flat scientific objective information about reach ranges for kids who use assistive devices. As a result in the Access Board''s publication there is appendix or advisory information regarding reach ranges and that''s also included in the technical assistance piece on page 37. I would strongly recommend you do follow the advisory information as most of you know, you are not required to do so, but clearly we needed more information about reach ranges and we as the committee were not able to produce it or obtain it. I hope this is an area that the Access Board and other organizations will look at further as time goes by and we gain more experience with play components on the ground. One of the other issues that came up that was kind of a surprise to many of us was that there are some playgrounds across the country that are either in existence today or on the drawing boards for tomorrow that did not include any ground level play components. This is a critical issue because when we talk about elevated play components, you will know if you don''t already, that there is not a requirement for ramp at every playground. That ramp requirement is triggered by the size of the playground. So what we wanted to avoid was a situation where a small to mid sized playground is constructed and does not have a ramp and also does not have any ground level play components. Because if that were the situation and a child going to the playground with his or her friends could not transfer out of his or her chair, there really would be nothing that he or she could do, nothing that he or she could play with in the playground. So as a result we imposed a connection which made it through the process and comes out in the Access Board''s guideline that imposed a certain minimum number of ground level play components where a ramp is not present. For example, a mid-sized playground with 11 to 13 elevated play components does not have to have a ramp. But it does have to have four ground level components. And those four must be of at least three different types. These ground level components all mix together and you can use one set to satisfy the other. It''s spelled out pretty clearly in the technical assistance piece and I elaborate a little bit more on it in my handout as well. Let''s use the remainder of my time to talk about elevated play components. Next the to surfacing this was clearly the most controversial part of our deliberations. Elevated play components really have a historical role in the development of playgrounds. Height, and the sensations associated with height have resulted in the creation of entire new play industries and we recognize the importance of being able to get off the ground in a playground. Part of this was economics and part of it was practicality. It''s easy for us to talk about we want to make every playground have a ramp, but when we got right down to the how do we make that happen part of the planning discussion, it was clear that we really couldn''t do it. What we settled on was a requirement that in general one out of every two elevated play components shall be accessible. We defined an elevated play component as one, the definition says it''s approached above or below grade and is part of a composite play structure. For those of you that may not be a playground safety person or manufacturer I will tell you that basically means it''s a play component that you get to off of a deck that''s part of a composite play structure. You have to get off the ground, walk up the stairs, or go up the ramp and then on the deck you can access the play component. If that''s where you access it, it is an elevated component. We said one out of every two must be accessible and we created a trigger point for the ramp requirement of 20 or more elevated play components. Now in the suburbs that I work in, a handful of our playgrounds are that large, a handful of our playground under development are that large and probably every state and city that I visited I have seen playgrounds that are that large. But that size is probably mid large to large for most communities. What we said after that was if it''s not a large playground, if it''s 19 elevated play components or fewer, then the requirement for a ramp does not exist and instead a requirement for transfer systems is imposed. Transfer systems have to reach one half of the elevated play components and we do round up so if it''s 19 it comes out as 10 not nine and a half or not nine. Let me go back to the large playground scenario, again. The requirement is that half of elevated play components are accessible. For the large number of components where a ramp is required, the ramp is required to one fourth or more of the elevated play components and the remaining fourth or less must be reached by transfer systems. Transfer systems are defined and illustrated pretty well in this technical assistance manual that the Access Board published. A transfer system is basically a box or a platform that''s between 11 and 18 inches above the ground, a minimum of 14 inches by 24 inches surface on top. And the person in a chair can transfer on to that ask can ascend or descend on steps that have a maximum 8 inch rise and also have the same 14 by 24 inch configuration minimum. There are hand holds scattered throughout. There really wasn''t a lot of information about exactly where the best place to put every hand hold was, so we left that as a performance obligation, in other words you have to have them but where you put them and exactly what they look like is a matter between the owner/operator and the manufacturer. I think that covers elevated play components. Let me talk about existing sites. To me this is a really critical issue. There are a lot of communities that are building new playgrounds but the number of existing playgrounds in parks and recreation departments, school systems, day care centers and other facilities probably exceeds ten fold the number of playgrounds that will be built in the next five years. So it''s critical that parks and recreation managers, school managers, day care operators and advocates understand there is an obligation to address existing sites. Title II published by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Title II guideline in 1991 really doesn''t give us a whole lot of guidelines here, it''s the old program accessibility test. In other words, the program of playgrounds must be accessible. I will give you my opinion on this and tell you that in a very small community with only one or two playgrounds I think it''s a unique program and it really can''t be handled through the other program accessibility measures and I think in a situation like that that playground should be made accessible. That means accessible surface, a compliant number of ground level components a compliant number of elevated components. In larger systems where you have a redundant number of similar playgrounds, I think you can take a different approach. Let''s say it''s a mid sized community that has let''s just say 24 different playgrounds scattered throughout town. I think at the minimum you should select a third to a half of those playgrounds and go in on a planning basis so that they are equal distant to every resident in the community and install accessible surfacing, make some elevated play components accessible and make some ground level play components accessible so that arguably the experiences of climbing, rocking, swinging, sliding, and using manipulative play activities will be accessible alongside an accessible route at a playground in an integrated setting. I think this obligation also applies to privately owned and operated playgrounds. You know the Title III test for private entities is different than Title II and looks instead at ready achieveability. Indeed some changes for a private entity that''s a nonprofit might be beyond the pale of ready achieveability. But for a for property organization, for example a McDonald''s indoor playground or certain other playgrounds at for profit facilities, I think the ready achieveability test is one that can be met and that indeed those sites should incorporate some ground level component access, elevated access as well as surface access. I will close with a really simple notion to guide you if you are doubt whether you are an advocate or a playground owner/operator, that''s basically the bigger the playground the greater the obligation for making the components accessible. I know here in the communities that I work in in the northern suburbs of Chicago, the 221,000 residents in our gross population don''t want less from us, they want more. People across the country want playgrounds, they want playgrounds to have more features and as those new playgrounds are built with more features there will be an escalating demand for making those sites accessible. We are all part of making that happen and I look forward now to receiving questions and Jennifer, I don''t know how to do that. I''m leaving it to you.
This is Mark Trieglaff. I have a question that I have gotten from some places like zoos and museums that have developed some exhibits that are interactive. They consider it an educational design but it seems like it really has a play component to it. It seems like they need to be obligated to follow the playground kind of regulations that have come. I don''t know if John has come across that before.
Mark, that''s a good question. We had some pretty philosophical discussions about what is a play area. Initially in the discussions in the committee, we linked it to play areas as they are defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The Access Board ''s actual definition of a play area doesn''t say that. Instead it says a portion of a site containing play components designed and constructed for children. You could probably make the argument that an educational/play exhibit at a zoo fits that definition, but I think it''s kind of like squeezing a square peg into a round hole. These guidelines were really intended to address manufactured, artificial, sometimes human made, play components that you would typically find in a school or day care or parks and recreation playground. I personally don''t think that these apply to the broader definition of play spaces or play areas. I know that the Access Board on a related matter is looking at water playgrounds or spray-grounds as they are sometimes called.
Thanks, Mark we have an on line question, John, about our favorite wheelchair platform swings. Could you address whether or not that is a requirement in the Access Board''s final rule? For people that aren''t familiar with the platform swing it''s essentially a platform that''s big enough for a wheelchair to roll up on, you usually find them in supervised play environments. Could you talk about whether or not that''s required in the final rule?
Sure. It''s not. We had long discussions about just what the heck is a swing, should we require something besides a belt swing, should we require back support, head support, armrests, in the end we required none of that. There is also significant concern about the safety of platform swings. I believe that in some states they are actually banned, I don''t recommend their use. I do recommend some of the other newer products that are out, there are sculpted swing seats that are much softer material, there are bag swings that may be appropriate, depending on the user and the level of supervision at the site. So the good news here if you are an owner/operator you have discretion to pick different types of swing seats as you see fit. The bad news is that you have this discretion. I certainly encourage owners and operators to experiment and use some belt swings, use some seat swings, use some that have hidden back support and armrests as well. I also strongly encourage owner/operators to communicate with the families in the community who will be using the swing and get their feedback. If the families prefer a certain type of swing, I think that''s the better approach. But the bottom line is that in the guideline we did not require a certain type of swing, in fact ASTM does prohibit certain types of swings and I believe one of those is the platform swing.
Good. So that means "buyer beware" when you get your catalog in the mail and it has a picture of that wheelchair swing and it says "ADA approved," that''s for people to know there is no such thing. It is not actually recommended.
Jennifer, actually I tell our departments not to install those, I think they are very unsafe.
I was curious, it''s probably already been answered, I guess I just needed more clarification, I''m new at this. The guidelines for child care centers as far as playgrounds, I was curious for like child care centers that exist now, I know you talked about new ones, is the ground cover, is it mandated by law or are these guidelines they actually have to have this playground?
Well, you will probably get a different opinion if you go to a couple of other places, but Title II as you probably know, Title II and Title III in the ADA are completely different titles. Privately owned day care centers would fall under Title III. This guideline published by the Access Board applies to both Title II and Title III, it doesn''t matter if it''s the City of Indianapolis parks and recognize or a local La Petite childcare center, they should follow this same guideline. As to the status of these guidelines, these have been issued by the U.S. Access Board. There has not been a corresponding regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Justice requiring Title II and Title III entities to adhere to these guidelines. But don''t let that fool you into thinking that these therefore are not mandated. In the absence of the issuance of the Department of Justice guideline, if someone files a complaint against, let''s use La Petite again since I use them as an example, they say we didn''t follow the guideline because there wasn''t a Department of Justice regulation issued telling us we had to, the court will then say okay, what''s the next highest federal level writing on playground accessibility? They are going to go to the U.S. Access Board guideline. So even though the Department of Justice has not issued this, I tell the 12 parks and recreation agencies that I work for for all intents and purposes this is a final guideline and they indeed should follow it. I would also give that same advice to private sector, child care for profit as well as nonprofit. Does that answer the question?
It really is just my opinion. You will probably get a slightly different opinion from the Access Board and perhaps some other federal agencies. But from following the various court decisions I believe that''s the correct opinion.
Karen, the education and training director for Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services. We have a case, I hate to say a case, it''s my own son, but we have a situation where the elementary school where my youngest son goes last year advertised that they were raising money, the PTO was raising money for they quoted accessible playground. I was extremely excited about that since my background goes up to the backyard of the playground. This year they put the play equipment up, they have one piece that is so-called accessible, one of the flat form things that you go up and have the tick tack toe board. They put pea gravel down, there is an 8 inch step up, so obviously they so-called accessible playground is not. I have written a letter, one of our advocates is kind of waiting to feel, to see if we need her to step in or not. What is in your opinion a reasonable time? I have already talked to the director of buildings, I wrote the letter March 13th they got it the 14th and responded to me immediately. In regards to a reasonable time for them to make things right, I guess. They are already talking "we have to look at this price wise." This is a growing area around Indianapolis and they are building a new elementary school within a mile of my son''s and I know of other schools that are raising money for "accessible playgrounds."
Thanks Karen. This brings up another point that you and I talk about all the time John. So many times we get this exact question from every parent teacher group in the United States practically. It feels like you are answering the same thing every week. So many times the trend with schools is that the parent teacher organization will raise money to do a one time playground installation and not necessarily have all the people educated enough on what the ASTM standards are, what the requirements for the Consumer Products Safety Commission let alone the Access Board''s final rule.
I think you actually asked two questions, one is this broader issue that Jennifer is talking about, but the other one is really a timing issue. It''s funny all my friends in parks and recreation think I''m as liberal as you can get and all my friends in the disability movement think I''m a very conservative guy. I would tell you to wait one season. The mechanics of acknowledging that you did it wrong, finding the money to replace it, or do it right , putting it into the work schedule, usually takes a couple months. But I would make it a very firm one season. I would say to the school district, thanks for your acknowledgement, I''m going to give you till May 31st or pick a date that''s a couple of months down the road, and if by that date this isn''t completed, you are going to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education or whoever the appropriate body would be. I think in your case since it''s a school it would be a DOE. On this broader issue of schools and playground access, generally schools have not made playgrounds a high priority. They recognize the important outcomes that their students derive from a good, well designed, safe, playground. But they place little priority on the safety training for their own employees and they in many districts delegate 80 percent of the process of designing and funding the playground to the parent teacher organizations and probably half of us on the call have at one time or another been an active member of a parent teacher organization so it''s not a slight against them, but it''s not their business, either. I find that most of the playgrounds that do have access errors or safety errors are school district playgrounds. So what I have often recommended for schools and I don''t work for schools here, but when I have the opportunity to do it I do so, I recommend that the PTO design and funding process has to be subject to prior approval by somebody high up in the school district whether it''s the chief of building and grounds, or some other person with authority and that way the school district can''t say the PTO designed it. It''s really not the PTO''s playground it''s the school district''s. At some point the message has to be gotten across to the school district and they have to send school district staff, not PTO members, to become certified playground safety inspectors and know the accessibility guidelines as well. Did I answer both questions?
I think so. I think I have a little bit of an advantage because of who I work for, we can put a little pressure before filing a formal complaint.
On a side note Rick, you can pass my information I have a handy little letter on pea gravel you can use. Thanks for your question, Karen. John this is a good time to put a couple plugs in. You just mentioned the playground safety certification.
For those of you not familiar with the National Recreation and Park Association, that is the professional organization for park and recreation professionals and park and recreation departments, they have an organization within it called the National Playground Safety Institute and they offer a certification program that mostly deals with safety. You can link to their web site, www.nrpa.org once the transcript goes up on the Great Lakes web site, we will also link to that. Another organization that you could also look to for technical assistance is the National Center on Accessibility, that''s my other hat. We can answer those questions as well. You might also be interested to know about a research project the National Center on Accessibility started last summer and will continue this spring. In this research project, we are looking at a playground that has been designed using the minimum accessibility guidelines put forth in the Access Board''s final rule and looking at what happens between play and inclusion of kids with disabilities versus kids without disabilities. Because as we know these are only minimum guidelines, what happens? Do kids with disabilities still interact with kids with disabilities does it promote inclusion or do the various elements distract from it?
Yes, my daughter attends metropolitan school, it''s a slightly different situation than what you just described. They built two levels of brand new playgrounds, there is no steps, there are accessible things to play on, but the playground itself is on a hill. So the playground, the entire playground structure, is inaccessible to my child who uses a wheelchair and a walker unless she walks around the entire perimeter of the school that takes too long to accomplish in the 15 minutes they have for recess. Are there any guidelines or rules about if new playgrounds are built whether the playground itself can be gotten to?
Yes, absolutely. I apologize I don''t have my Title II Department of Justice guideline in front of me. Buried in Title II, is a requirement, I think somewhere around 35.140 that says that a unit of local government, that includes a school district, shall not, that''s an absolute don''t do this, shall not select a site which cannot be made accessible. This is almost always related to slope whether it''s a bluff along a lake, or a naturally occurring hill. If you found an engineer or an architect and asked them could you have leveled this out to make it accessible, of course the answer would have been yes. There is an absolute requirement and the Title II guideline published July 26, 1991, by the Department of Justice, that prohibits the very scenario you just described.
I''m going to ask it. I need a little more clarification on the nonprofit sector regulations we have a few people here in the room that represent different kinds of nonprofits, religious groups, nonprofit general community center type organizations, is there a difference if the playground is kept locked and only members of that nonprofit are using it versus a playground that is open to the public and left unlocked so neighborhood kids could come on to the synagogue property or community center play area. That''s what I need to know
Two things related to that, Marcia. One is the issue of supervision and the other is the status of the entity that has the playground. As you probably know, there are two exceptions in Title III for types of entities. One is a private club. I should preface this by saying the Department of Justice and Congress intended both to be construed very narrowly. One is a private club. A private club is not John''s playground where I admit members. A private club is one where there is no state or local government support for the operation, when the street needs paving, it gets paid by member''s assessments, I can''t get in unless I''m nominated by a member, there is a $20,000 membership fee, that''s a private club. The second broad exemption is religious organization services. If a Jewish community center, no I''m not going to use that example. If a Catholic church for the members of its parish only, had a playground inside the church properties that could only be used by members of the parish while they were at the church, then that would be an exempt service. If the playground was out on the open field and could be used by members or the public, I don''t think it meets that very narrow test. The other part of your question had to do with supervision. We actually did consider, Marcia, an exception of sorts for supervised playgrounds, for example, elementary school principals suggested that their staff were out on the playground and supervising the students and therefore they should have a lesser obligation to meet for accessibility. The private day care industry suggested the same thing. The committee rejected that notion, as did the Access Board. There are too many variables with the training and background of the quality of the supervision, or the employee that''s hired to provide supervision. There are also too many issues with absent employees, whether it''s because of injury or illness or vacation. So we did not in the end make any concession if it was a supervised playground. So to sum it up, if it''s a church or synagogue property, that has a playground that''s open to the public, I believe that it''s subject to this guideline. You can probably, Marcia, find a contrary opinion, but that''s my opinion. I believe the only type of playground that would clearly be exempt here is a playground on a private country club that is fenced that no one can get to ask use unless they are a member or children of a member of the club. Does that help?
You mentioned something about one of the groups we have here is a Jewish community center, you said something you weren''t going to use that as an example is that because it does receive government funding at times and is open to more people than its members
No, I didn''t want to use it because it''s a Jewish community center, not a synagogue. There is some debate about whether a Jewish community center is a religious organization as opposed to a synagogue which clearly is. Many JCC''s, there are numerous in the communities I work in and people who are not Jewish are welcome to use their services. To me they are really more of an open to the public nonprofit with a religious atmosphere, but they are not a religious organization. So I try to draw a pretty hard line there.
So they would have the same regulations as a public playground
Again, that''s my opinion. You may very well find somebody at the Department of Justice that would lean the other way, that''s my opinion.
Hi John. I have a question about shredded manufactured tires as a surface, rubberized material. What treatment does it take to make that accessible?
Well, in pretty general terms, somebody has to figure out a way to bind the shredded material together so that when force strikes the surface that if it absorbs it through displacement it somehow returns to original form or something pretty close to it. Does that make sense? I know that manufacturers right now are experimenting with different types of adhesives or epoxies that are nontoxic, nonflammable, non-allergic that will keep the recycled tires together. Until somebody comes up with a foolproof way of doing that, the other option you are going to see is a variety of mats or surfaces laid over the shredded recycled tire which is a good combination, it''s promotes recycling, so it keeps the Department of Energy or conservation happy within the states. But from an accessibility perspective, I don''t think that''s quite enough yet. So something like a thin mat laid over recycled shredded rubber tire might be accessible and might meet the ASTM requirement for surfacing, does that make sense?
It does, thank you.
John we are coming up at the close of the hour, as people can tell. John and I are both very passionate about playground access, so we could talk on and on and on being the accessibility geeks we are. I''m going to throw it back to you if you have a few closing comments for us.
I do. I would encourage those who are on the call who are owners and operators, to experiment with different surfaces. The Access Board and the committee that the Access Board appointed really acknowledged the fact that in the next five years there are going to be surfaces and play components that didn''t exist before. We tried to write the guideline in a way that encourages creativity and we do believe through some creative solutions better access will occur. So in some places where you might look at the guideline and think, why didn''t they just say this type of product? We had that same debate and we purposely chose not to because we want to give manufacturers and owners and operators an incentive to come up with something new that does this better, to make a better mouse trap, if you will. For the advocates, I would encourage you to encourage experimentation. There are new products out there. In fact the question about shredded rubber surfaces is a good example. There are some states that are working with shredded recycled rubber and different types of mats on top of them as a way to create better and cheaper accessibility. I think that''s something we would probably all agree we want to address. I think to go back to one of the earlier questions, too, I would say that we need to be firm about this. If you think a school district or parks and recreation department or child care facility has put a new playground in and has ignored these guidelines I think it''s incumbent upon all of us, no matter what our role in our community is, to raise that issue with them and to request that they acknowledge the error and tell us how they plan to correct it at that site and involve us in planning the next one so they won''t make the same mistake again. I think the reason the Access Board had to write recreation guidelines was that for decades people with disabilities really have been denied fair access to recreation. And I think it''s about time that that ended. And I will stop there, Jennifer.
Thanks so much for joining us today, John. We truly appreciate it. We will post the transcript and the links to the National Playground Safety Institute and the National Center on Accessibility. That will be available on the Great Lakes web site at the beginning of next week. Thanks for joining us today, we hope you will be back with usb on April 16 when Philip Breen of the U.S. Department of Justice and Herb Ziegeldorf of HUD will join us to talk about service animals, policies and procedures, that''s sure together a dog-gone good show. That''s my one joke for this afternoon. Good thing we are coming up on the close of the hour. As a reminder, the 2002 ADA distance learning schedule is posted at the Great Lakes web site www.adagreatlakes.org In the event you have more questions about the ADA or upcoming sessions, please call your regional DBTAC at 800-949-4232. Thanks for joining us today.