Welcome to the November session of our ongoing Audio Conference Series that is featured and supported by the 10 Regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers. Our November session is titled, "Over the hills and through the woods, accessibility of trails in the outdoor environment" and we are joined today by speakers, Gary Robb, Executive Director and Jennifer Skulski, Director of Marketing and Special Products, National Center on Accessibility, Indiana University. This session will focus on and be a discussion on the proposed guidelines for, or the draft guidelines of trails and accessibility of outdoor environments. This has been a long-standing issue that I know our offices and many of the other Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC)''s have had a lot of questions on. I know the National Center on Accessibility spends as lot of time addressing this issue. This session is one of a series of sessions that are offer on a monthly basis. For those of you that have access to the internet if you are interested and would like to follow along using real time captioning, you can go to our Great Lakes Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website, which is ADA Great Lakes, all one word dot org. You will also find audio archived of this session as well as past transcripts posted to our website. The session for today will be posted within the next 7 business days. At this time, I''m going to give a little bit of instruction about what will happen. Our two speakers will be engaging in the topic of the day, which will be followed by a question and answer period. Once they have finished their session, we will ask the operator to give instruction on how you can engage in the question and answer period. We encourage you to take notes during the session of questions you might like to bring back up again with the speakers at the conclusion of their remarks. If time allows, we will take additional questions. At this time, I would like to introduce our speakers. First is Gary Robb, he is the Executive Director of the National Center on Accessibility and Bradford Woods at Indiana University''s Outdoor center. He is also an Associate Professor in the department of Recreation and Park Administration, School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University. I doubt that it fits on one business card. Most recently, Gary has served on the U.S. Access Board''s regulatory negotiation committee on accessibility guidelines for underdeveloped areas and has a great deal of expertise on our topic today. He is joined by Jennifer Skulski who some of you may be familiar with as Jennifer used to work with the Great Lakes DBTAC at one time. She is currently the Director of Marketing and Special Projects at the National Center on Accessibility. She previously worked as Associate Directors of the Great Lakes ADA center and a coordinator for the Rockford Illinois park district. Currently she is coordinating the development of a distance learning series on access outdoor developed areas to be available through the National Center in the next spring. Hopefully you will all enjoy the information that they are going to be giving you today and will find that the information meets your needs as you delve into this topic further. At this time I will turn it over to Gary and Jennifer and we will proceed with the program. Go ahead Jennifer and Gary?
Good afternoon and welcome wherever you are at. Here in Indiana, it is a great day to talk about trails, but not to be out on them. It is pretty windy and nasty day here. What we thought we would do today is to begin by giving some background of the rule making process and where this all stands, talk a little bit about the process that was used and the dynamics of attempting to develop these guidelines and some detail relative to what they consist of, and then obviously we will be interested in listening to you and fielding your questions. The as I''m sure you all know, the Americans with Disabilities Act covered and outdoor areas but did not, or in the law, but did not provide any guidelines as to how to make recreation and outdoor developed areas accessible. And it is obvious to everyone that we are dealing with some pretty significantly different issues when we talk about the, the natural environment versus the built environment, and obviously all of the standards to date when the ADA was passed were based on the built environment. That being said, the U.S. Access Board recognized this and convened, created a recreation advisory committee back in July of 1993 and this committee met for almost a year and concluded its work in ''94, and dealt with the various issues in making recommendations for creating accessibility guidelines to venues such as amusement parks, boating facilities, fishing, golf, sports, swimming and so forth. And this group was made up of a very diverse group of people. The attempt of the access board was obviously to have all of the interests in these varies areas represented. So the committee, I think it was a 27-member committee consisted of people from organizations, representing organizations such as the American Ski Federation, Disabled American Veterans, Golf course superintendents, National Recreation of Parks Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America and on and on and on. So it was a very diverse group of people representing state and local government, the federal as well as private enterprise. The committee actually worked in subcommittees on each of these varies issues and in fact, in the areas, in all of the areas other than playgrounds and outdoor areas, the committee reached agreement on what their recommendations would be to the access as far as standards go, or the guidelines go. And then the access board went to work at obviously the notice of proposed rulemaking and the public comment, which took approximately 8 years to complete the standards that were finally approved in October of last year, 2002. And those covered those areas of amusement, boating, fishing, golf, sports and swimming. Since there were a lot of issues on the areas of play and the areas of outdoor developed areas, the Access Board decided that it needed to get a lot more input and decided to use a procedure called regulatory negotiation, and in this they engaged the federal mediation conciliation service to facilitate the development of proposed guidelines. This process more affectionately known as the "regneg" is really an interest based model where various committee members negotiate for their various constituents. As with the recreation advisory committee, the outdoor developed areas regulatory negotiating committee, consisted of a very diverse of people. Just to name-I won''t all of them, but to name some of them, and again, remember we are now about the outdoor developed areas such as, such as trails, picnic areas, camp grounds and beaches, and consisted of representatives of the American Society of landscape architects, the American Trails, Appalachian Trail Conference, Hawaii conference on persons with disabilities, KOA, National State Park Directors, National Association of trail administrators and then number of organizations representing persons with disabilities, such as the national council on independent, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, National Center on Accessibility, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and then a number of the federal land managing agencies, such as the U.S. forest service, park service, federal highway administration and others were involved as well. So as you can see it was a very, very diverse group of people. Basically, what the process, the regulatory negotiations process is all about is reaching consensus, and basically it is to involve all the constituencies that it might be effected by the rule with the purpose of being that if, these diverse groups could reach a consensus, they would be representative of public opinion and therefore the recommended standards or guidelines would face fewer hurdles in the rulemaking process. This group met from June of 1997 through July of 1999, and we held a total of 10 meetings. And these meetings were held throughout the country. We met several times in Washington, D.C., we met in San Diego, Seattle, Albuquerque, and we also met at 2 different outdoor centers. We met in Colorado at the Rocky mountain national park at the Easter seals society outdoor center and we met at Bradford woods here in Indiana. These venues were particularly of interest and of importance since it provided us the opportunity to get out and actually see and practice what the varies issues were as it related to creating standards and guidelines for outdoor developed areas. The committee finished its work and actually did reach consensus and submitted a report to the U.S. Access Board on September 15th of 1999. I will talk more about that in a few minutes, but I wanted to give a little bit of background of the process that the committee went through because I can tell you, being a part of it, it was probably one of the most difficult experiences that I''ve ever engage in and I think if you talk to other committee members, they would say the same thing. We did agree at the outset that there were some premises and some principals that we would follow, and we wanted the guidelines to look like, and basically these consisted of the three major areas were that we wanted the guidelines to ensure the protection of the resource and the environment. We wanted to be sure that the guidelines would preserve the experience that the public was looking for in the outdoor environment, and thirdly we wanted to ensure that we maximize, wherever possible, accessibility for the maximum number of users. As I it was a very difficult process and required tremendous amount of compromise along the way. In fact, I''ve been asked a number of times by people who were reviewed the final report and say, well, how could any group of sane people come up with these proposed guidelines? And really, it really did come down to a whole lot of movement on the part of people representing very diverse. It was a very painful and we started, as you can recognize, with a group of people that either had little or no history related to disability or had, and/or had minimal or no knowledge about outdoor environments or how to create trails or, or what goes into making a good outdoor recreation area. So we spent a lot of time in that process educating each other and attempting to come to an understanding of each others'' positions and attempting to see where we could agree on compromise and then as we moved along, tackle the much tougher issues that I will also talk about here in just a few minutes. But to tell you, to give you a couple of examples of how difficult this was, I recall one of our early meetings, we actually spent several hours in each of these 10 meetings that I mentioned were 2-3 days in length. By days, I''m not talking about 6 hour days. I''m talking about 13, 14, 15-hour days that this group worked. But to give you an example, I recall spending several hours one day just trying to get the group to agree on the definition of a picnic area, and so if you start, you start from there, you can understand when we really got into the difficult issues how difficult it might have been. Another example, and it was sort of a major issue that took quite a bit of time, was in defining the difference between maintenance and alterations. As you all probably know that the rule, or any rule that the Access Board creates deals with new and/or altered facilities, and so the definition in the outdoor environment particularly was very critical in defining what is a maintenance item and what is an alteration item. Obviously, a maintenance item would not require, or kick in the guidelines, whereas an alteration to the facility, whether trail or camp ground or picnic area, would then kick in the guidelines. So it was major issues and we were able to reach pretty much consensus on the how we differentiated between an alteration and a, and maintenance and essentially in the final analysis, basically the difference came down to where maintenance would be those items that, as required to perform to return the trail or the segment, trail segment back to the original conditions for which it was originally intended and designed. So things like removal of debris and vegetation or downed trees, broken branches and filling roots and entrenchments, erosion control, those sorts of things were all considered to be maintenance and when those routine operations took place out on a trail or in a picnic area or camp ground, they would not kick in, in the accessibility standards. We had a lot of long debates, about this and about other issues. I guess to get down to the nitty gritty of this though, the major issues that this group faced in attempting to recommend guidelines for accessibility to trails was, first of all, how do you define an accessible trail, just simply defining what an accessible trail is versus what is an outdoor recreation, or what is a recreation accessible route or whatever. And then the second major issue was what approach should we use in determining the requirements for accessible trails? So that is kind of what we want to focus I think on those two issues in the presentation today. I''m going to ask Jennifer if she would start by talking about some definitions of trails versus accessible routes.
Thanks, Gary. I think that one of the main things that we should really point out to people at this point in time is that here at National Center on Accessibility, we spend anywhere from 2-5 days in training programs on outdoor developed areas. And so it can be really challenging, especially in this amount of time to give you all of the information that there is to possibly know about accessible trails. So our goal really this afternoon is to kind of introduce the topic to you and give you some of the key concepts to take away with you, especially since the rulemaking process is still in progress. You out there in the field and advocates at Centers for Independent Living play a really critical role in the rulemaking process opens up for public comment. And so for those of you that are familiar with Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), or the Americans with disabilities accessibility guidelines, you could use that kind of as a starting off point when talk about the technical provisions that are proposed for trails. You probably have familiarity already with the requirements for accessible routes and what the minimum width for an accessible route needs to be, what the resting places and cross slopes, passing spaces, all of those types of technical provisions that are required. And, you know, really when it comes to talking about trails, again, kind of as a disclaimer, we can talk a real lot about trails and we can show you a lot of pictures about trails, but it is a completely different experience when it comes to actually getting out on the trail and applying the proposed technical provisions. So what I would like to do is kind of give you a couple different definitions as you move your familiarity with accessible routes into the outdoor developed areas, and what you are seeing in this process of rulemaking as the new rules come out and get added to ADAAG is that we have a growing number of paths that are being introduced. In the children''s rule, you will see a little bit of an exception when it comes to accessible routes that are primarily used for children. When the playground rule came out, you saw the rule addressing accessible routes when it came to picnic areas. In the recreation rule, you see another addressing of accessible routes when it comes to sports areas and playing fields. And so in the outdoor developed areas, we actually add 3 more types of paths to the areas of accessible routes, and those 3 different types of paths are outdoor recreation access routes, trails, and beach access routes. For the purposes of today, I''m really only going to talk about the outdoor recreation access routes and the trails. And as reference for we have put on the website 2 monographs that the National Center on Accessibility has put out. One is called what is an accessible trail and the second one is called trail surfaces, what do I need to know now? On that first monograph on what is an accessible trail, on Page 3, there is a table there, or a chart that shows you basically the differences in the technical provisions between accessible routes, which are really geared more towards the built environment, or the bricks and mortar environment, and then outdoor recreation access routes and trails, which are really in the outdoor areas. And so to give some of premise about where these kind changes in the technical provisions is really dependent on the type of path that you are looking at and what it is intended use is. So when we talk about accessible routes that are generally known in ADAAG, we are talking about a continuous, unobstructed path connecting all elements and spaces of a building. So that might be anything from your parking to entrance of a building, anything from accessing the building, going to the visitor desk, going to an office, going to a meeting room or so forth. Those are the access routes that are already addressed in ADAAG. In the outdoor developed areas report, we add these two additional definitions and so based on the type of path, you would look at different technical provisions, or maybe even lesser accessibility requirements based on that type of path. So the next similar type of accessible route would be an outdoor recreation access route. And basically, what that is a continuous unobstructed path designated for pedestrian use that connects the accessible elements found in developed outdoor areas. So this might be the path or the route from a picnic area to a rest room. It might be a route from a picnic table to an accessible campsite. It might be from the campsite to a shower room. So those types of routes that are primarily found in the outdoor developed areas. Things that are not considered outdoor recreation access routes, and that are already addressed in ADAAG are sidewalks or paths in highly developed areas like amusement parks or commercial theme parks. And where you might have some types of paths, we have this here at Indiana University where you have paths that connect college campes or the buildings on college campes. Those are not considered outdoor recreation access routes. Those are actually considered accessible routes under ADAAG and they use that of the most stringent technical requirements. When we talk about trails, what a trail is intended to be defined as is a route that is designed, constructed or designated for recreational pedestrian use, provided as a pedestrian alternative to vehicular routes within a transportation system. So it could be one of those two, but really it is for the purposes of recreational use. And so you might have a trail, you know, the Appalachian trail, trails in the Rocky mountains where the purpose of the trail is really for recreational use and to get some type of recreational experience. Often times we have people that ask questions about shared use, and different types of paths and really when it comes to those types of areas, you really have to look at what the intended purpose of the design was for that path. Where you might have mountain bike trails, those would not be covered by the outdoor developed area report because they were designed with the specific purpose of mountain biking. However, you might multi-use trails where their intended for people to use them in a variety of ways. Say, for example, a recreation path that people can roller blade on it, they can bicycle on it, and they can walk on it use it for pedestrian use as well, this would be covered under this area. We should also point out, though, that because bicycles are used in that type of multi-use path, there are already guidelines that exist through the Highway transportation department on the specifications for those types of trails whereby bicycle, recreational use is intended. So with that, I will just turn that back over to Gary.
Okay. Thanks, Jennifer. And thanks for mentioning where we are in this rulemaking process. I think that is worth repeating. First of all, the that you have available to you there and that many of you probably have studied, really are not enforceable standards at this point. Really where this is, it is only in the final report and there hasn''t even been the opportunity yet for public comment through the notice of proposed rulemaking. All of that will be coming up, but it is only in the final report status. However, I guess it is also important to mention that while there are no enforceable standards for say the making trails accessible, that does not-the absence of these standards does not obligate you, or those of you who abide by Americans with Disability Act or other accessibility legislation, and indicate your responsibility for making accessible trails accessible. That is a very confusing thing for people because it is probably one of the most often asked questions we get. Well, if there aren''t any standards, how can we comply with the law? And basically, what we advise people, and it is strictly advise, but we have heard it from other sources, that if you are going to, let us say, for example, if you are going to create a new trail or if you are going to make a major alteration to a trail, or any other outdoor developed area for that matter, then you will be safe by using the best available information. And currently, the best available information on how to make a trail accessible is the final report by the Regulatory Negotiation Committee. So while they are a not enforceable standard that does not mean that you couldn''t be liable for creating an outdoor developed area, trail, whatever, that is not accessible. Having said that, we as a committee and any of you out there who have had any experiences on trails certainly know the challenges that are faced by designers and by trail builders in thinking about making trails accessible. For the, the years that we were involved in this process, we spent by far the majority of our time trying to determine how we would treat trails, how we could what would be the best way to consider accessibility in looking at trails. And we looked at a lot of different approaches as the, as the report talks about. We looked at well, maybe we should just determine that a certain percentage of trails or miles of trails should be accessible or maybe it is just a certain percentage of the total number of trails that we should make accessible. Those were two approaches that we considered. We also considered very seriously another approach and that was recognizing the fact that trails are found in literally every environment from the urban environment to the wilderness environment that maybe we should designate trails by levels of accessibility depending upon the environment that they are located in. And then I guess the fourth approach that we looked at was similar to that and that was more of the looking at the U.S. Forest service recreation opportunity spectrum model and saying you are going to create a lot more accessible trails in highly developed areas and fewer and perhaps no trails that are accessible in areas that aren''t developed. Basically, the committee in the end rejected all of these approaches for a number of different reasons, but I guess the major reasons were, one, that it would be very easy for the land manager to say well, we will just make all the easy trails accessible. We won''t even have to worry about those trails that might traverse a more rough terrain or that we really don''t have to consider accessibility. And our concern there was, well, why eliminate the opportunity to create accessibility regardless of what the environment might be? So basically those were the purposes that we didn''t try to put any quotas or, or use environments as the primary mechanism to determine how to determine levels of trails, the trail accessibility. What we basically decided to do, and we all agreed that by the very nature of trails that all new trails or all trails weren''t going to be able to be made accessible in certain types of environments. But what we decided to do, and I think in the end we agreed that this approach was the best approach because it has the potential at least for maximizing accessibility regardless of where that trail may be located, and that was to start with the notion that all trails would be accessible. If you are going to build a new trail or if you are going to alter a trail, let us at least start on paper with the idea that, that this trail is going to be accessible. Recognizing then, of course, that that was not going to be possible in certain situations and maybe in a lot of situations, we then had to determine, okay, under what conditions do the accessibility or the technical requirements that we recommended apply, and under what conditions would accessibility not need to be considered? We are not going to get into talking about the various technical specifications because those are all-you know, they are written similar to the standards in ADAAG and they are very similar, obviously, considering the nature of the outdoor environment, there are variances, but those are all easily found in both report as the final report. I think what is worth just mentioning briefly at least is the, how we came up with or what those conditions are that need to be applied in order to, say, well, it is just not possible to make this trail or this segment of the trail or this particular location on a trail accessible. And so we created what we called conditions for departure. And the key aspects for conditions for departure were really-the key terms in at least the committee''s discussion was-the two key terms were significant and substantial shall. And so the conditions for departure really basically are intended to be where compliance would be almost impossible, would significantly alter or change the environment, then the entity could opt out of accessibility for either that trail or that segment of trail or one of the technical provisions, whatever the case might be. I mean that there were four basic areas that we considered. If there were significant or substantial issues that one could opt out of accessibility, and one was where compliance would alter significant cultural, historic, religious or natural features. We know, just as an example that in different parts of the country we have different kinds of natural features. Some of them may be historically significant, such as the stone crib in New England; perhaps a Native American burial ground would be certainly of a religious significance. In Indiana, we have endangered species such as the flowering purple raspberries and others states have those. Where a trail would create damage to those significant features, then while that significant feature exists, technical specifications could be waived. There are other situations; the second condition for departure would be the purpose of the trail or the nature of the setting. It is certainly legitimate to create a trail that is challenging. There is nothing in these guidelines or the intent of the ADA or anything else that would say you can''t create something because it is challenging. So if you have a purpose and you are creating a trail specifically for challenge or fitness or whatever it might be, then certainly that would be a legitimate reason probably not to meet some of the slope or cross slope requirements that make up an accessible trail. Maybe if you are traversing a cranberry bog or a lava field, because of the nature of that setting, it might not be possible to make that entire trail accessible. Then the third condition for departure was where construction materials and methods may be prohibited by state, federal or local statutes. This is where we get into the issues about wilderness areas, both federally designated wilderness as well as other wilderness areas, where you might get into situations where you have a conservation easement that simply will not allow you to create an accessible trail through there or perhaps an ecosystem issue. All of these things can be considered when looking at whether the technical specifications for accessible trails apply or not. Now, each technical specification has to be applied against that system and if, for example, you are in a situation where you can''t make the 32 or the 36-inch tread width for 5 or 6 feet, then the condition might allow you to narrow that to lesser. But as soon as that condition is departed, or passed, you have to go back to the trail width or if cross slope or slope or surface isn''t an issue, they have to be applied at all times: Then the fourth condition for departure really looks terrain, whether terrain makes it not feasible to create accessibility or perhaps the prevailing construction practices of that terrain. If you are creating a trail that goes through rock cliffs spaces or if you have a trail where you just typically would not haul or take mechanized equipment in there, that the trail would only be created by hand tools and that trail can''t be made accessible by using only hand tools, that would qualify for a point of departure a condition for departure. And again, those can be applied to each situation. So it may sound complex, but it really isn''t. What it does, it really forces the designer, the builder, to, one, include potential user, people with disabilities and others, into the design process and to really look at the environment and to determine if in fact we can make it accessible, let us do it. It kind of comes down -always tell people if these guidelines, or if these recommendations become to guidelines, sort of like in lot of other aspects of the ADA, it is going to largely come down to the attitude of the people that are responsible for trails. It is sort of the analogy of the glass of water, the glass being half full or half empty. You know, you can create a lot more accessibility if you are trying to create accessibility. If you are trying to find ways to not create accessibility, then there is probably going to be some ways, some wiggle room there where you won''t have to create as much accessibility as if you were really looking to maximize those opportunities. You know, so it comes down to the difference between, well, what is our legal obligation and versus what is our moral commitment and kind of that is sort of what it is all about. There are a couple of other exceptions. Because we also recognize that there are situations in certain parts of this country and maybe in every state really, where a trail route has to be a trail if it is going to be created, has to be routed through an area where we have all kinds of difficulties in making it accessible. And so there are situations where in these general exceptions, if you will, apply, then you really, beyond a certain point, you really don''t have to consider accessibility anymore along that trail because of the fact is if your conditions so severe for a length of time, then no one that has need for these accessibility guidelines are going to be able to get there anyway. So there are some situations where you have real severe cross and running slopes for, you know, for example, cross and running that exceeds 40% to 30 feet, or if you come to the part in a trail where you have a tread obstacle that is at least 30 inches high and there is no way to get around that tread obstacle, there is no way to continue on that trial except to go up over the 30-inch obstacle, if you reach those kinds of situations or if you reach a situation where the trail surface is not firm for a length of time, or that the tread width is very narrow for 20 feet or more, then simply going, considering accessibility beyond that point really doesn''t make a lot of sense and therefore after that point of departure, you no longer would have to consider accessibility along that trail simply because of the severity of that particular circumstance. And the other exception is that if you are planning a trail that let us say, runs a mile long, if in the route, the proposed routing of that trail, the only route that you can take for that trail in considering accessibility, 15% or more that trail simply cannot be made accessible, then after the first point of departure, you would not have to consider making any of that trail accessible. And that is basically the-that is basically the guidelines and hopefully some of the rational for-from that the committee used in creating these recommendations. And really it came down to one, an attempt to create as much accessibility as possible recognizing at the same time that trails were not going to be able to be accessible, but in those cases where trails couldn''t be accessible at least there was the application of some criterion that could be used to say we applied all these and found that we could not meet the technical specifications to make this particular trail accessible. And that is sort of the broad overview of the work that has been done to date on making trails, developing and creating accessibility standards for trails.
Well, great. Thank you, Gary and Jennifer. I think you have given us a lot of information and it is almost overwhelming just to even start to begin to put the pieces together about what applies to what and separate the concept of a trail versus, you know, as Jennifer''s discussion of an accessible path and such. So let us see what kind of questions our participants have today to see if we can further provide clarification and such. One thing I do have a question on, though, Gary, it is one we receive a lot on. I know your one fact sheet we provided today talked about the issues of surfacing and things of that nature. That always comes up to one thing that constantly comes back at us is what is the surface that we should be using? We understand the concepts of the various types of what is difficult or not difficult for someone using a cane. But when you get to the outdoor environment, it is not like we have to pave the world, things of that nature. What work is being done in this area? Is there hard and fast, or where do you think things might go in this arena?
Gary, can I piggy back on that too, is that through our website, which is NCAonline.org, we have a listing of products and those are not endorsements, but certainly they are to give you an idea of the different types of products that are outdoor and there is a complete list of surfaces. One of the things that you can do through NCA, because of the type of technical assistance that we provide, is that if you are interested in one type of product or another, you can call us, NCA, and one of our accessibility specialists can give you some on a product. They can also give you some ideas of the types questions that you should be asking the vendor before you actually purchase the products.
Thanks. That''s a good pointer for people, I think. Sometimes we are too trusting because we don''t know it or we are uncomfortable, we just rely on other people without asking all the questions we need to at times. Chris, can we get an opportunity to see if any of our participants have any questions, please?
I''m in Hawaii. I''m the trail manager for the state of Hawaii. The question I have relates to adapting technology to trail surfaces versus modifying the trail surface itself, and what I saw in a magazine several years ago was a wheelchair that was designed for use specifically on hiking trails. It was a knobby-tired type of device. I think the user used their hands to propel the thing across trails. I think it was a 3-wheeler. I guess my question is, has there been any-in the literature, it is all discussing modifying the route itself or the surface. But what about taking, you know, wheelchair technology and improving upon it so that it is more adaptable to more varying trail surfaces and specifically, I would like to know to purchase one of those or if they are available on the market because it would make a good kind of pilot project to maybe pick up a few of them and see if there is user interest and if they actually work on trails in Hawaii, which are traditionally very steep, muddy, lots of roots, lots of run, a lot of design modification issues. Big question. Thank you.
Actually that is a really good question. And we got that question a lot. I think that it really comes down to the balance between how much responsibility you put on the park visitor that comes to your park versus how much responsibility do you take on as the park facility manager in your provision of access. And so there''s kind of a balance there. We have on the website, that''s one of the sections under our product section, that we do have a list of those types of alter rain wheelchairs. Our experience with a lot of the parks is that they are designing according to the final report on outdoor developed areas, but then also considering that some people might not want to take their wheelchair out into the sand or through rugged terrain, or that, and so they might add as a customer service looks at some of these all-terrain wheelchairs. I don''t know if you want to talk about the beach study we just did.
I think beaches trails are similar issues relative to that, and let me first of all state that, various types of technology development certainly have the opportunity and the potential for enhancing accessibility, no doubt about it. I think Jennifer''s point being that the expense to the individual, I mean most of those devices that the questioner asked are individual devices that are fitted for an individual and therefore may or may not work for, you know, 15 or 20 different visitors. However, the other point I wanted to make is that in terms of just the whole philosophy of creating accessibility and standards for accessibility, the access boards has the responsibility of creating accessibility guidelines for the built environment, and their guideline or their approach by law has to be that whatever is created for accessibility has to be something that is fixed, something that is permanent or at least that is there that users can use their own devices, access independently and so forth. That is not to say that is not a great idea and that wheel devices of all types might not enhance accessibility. Beaches are a little bit different because beaches you are not going to-in most case, you are not going to take them miles like you might a mountain but we have also conducted some research on the various types of beach devices that are out there. In fact, we are just the finalizing report on the study that we last year. So it is certainly a way to enhance accessibility. It is not an alternative to create accessibility, however,
Thank you. Why don''t we move on to the next, please?
I have a question related to the soil stabilization materials again. I''ve had a number of people ask me related to some of the chemicals that are used in that material and if there has been any sort of study or information related to the impact of the environment with using those soil stabilize material. Do you know of anything?
Hi. I can just tell you this, that as far as I know, I am not familiar with any independent studies. It is always a question that we ask and that we look at the literature and documentation relative to their, the environmentally friendly aspects of the substance, and of course in most cases, and you know, you would have to go through every one of them, but we are told that, you know, that they have tested them and they don''t have any adverse effects for the environment and so on and so forth. But it is probably something that in our upcoming research project that we would include as a part of that in terms of analyzing any impact or harmful characteristics that that might have an effect on.
Thank you. Next?
Yes, hi. I have a two-part question. The first involves the evaluation or assessment of trails when we are doing a self evaluation as a state agency, and when we look at our self evaluation, when we look at all of our facilities to measure for access and see what can be made accessible or more accessible, the questions are coming in because of extensive trail networks in the high peaks areas. If we have to assess the entire trail system or may we use the guidelines and conditions for departure and if we meet enough for high peaks area, for example, for measuring a trail and we reach a point where we actually, through the percentage approach or conditions for departure, reach a point where we have an exemption, can we then stop that process for self evaluation and say that the trail is not able to be made accessible because of the terrain or so on? The second question is about if signage is required on outdoor recreation access routes, signage, labeling the access routes as we would label an accessible parking spot or an accessible trail. That is it.
I will take the first part of that. Jennifer, you can think about the answer to the second one. I guess in terms of itself self evaluation, I''m not totally sure I fully understand your question, but let me give it a shot. The self-evaluation process is obviously, it is going to be, it is going to be applied by whatever standard that agency determines that you need to follow. And if it is a state agency, then the state, that particular state agency may have certain guidelines that you have to follow in terms of determining whether you are going to create accessibility or not. You know, my suggestion would be though that if you follow the approach that you suggest and that if you on a particular trail you reach the situation on that trail where you are using the conditions for the trail and the general exceptions that I mentioned, then you reach the point where you reach that general exception where it-the recommendations say that, you know, we no longer need to consider this trail being accessible because we''ve met these severe condition, either over 15% of the trail can''t be made accessible or we''ve met these exceptionally high running and cross slopes or barriers or whatever, then certainly met the obligations relative to the, looking for ways to make that trail accessible according to the current, the final report. Now, whether that''-that fulfill-there is nothing in any standards that says that an agency can''t require more. These like all other accessible standards are minimal, would be minimal guidelines and so you at least have to go that far relative to the federal guidelines.
That is a really good question, and let me kind of preface it and I''m sure that Gary can jump in here and disagree or agree with me. When it comes to the signage in general for outdoor developed areas there is discussion of signage on trails and the use of the international symbol, and basically the rational behind that provision is so that people wouldn''t go slap the international symbol of accessibility on all of their trails that would not necessarily meet all of the technical requirements for an accessible trail. And so that is really kind of the main point of where they talk about signage. Your question is more specific to outdoor recreation access routes, and so I would have to kind of balance that with how the signage is used under ADAAG and the built environment and what ADAAG does is that it says where not all of your routes or entrances or amenities where they are not all accessible, that you should include some type of signage that indicates where the accessible routes or where the accessible amenities are. Hopefully that answered If Gary wants to disagree with me, this would b-
No, that is good, Jennifer. The only other thing I would say, Jennifer, is that there is a requirement in the final report on trails that if a trail meets the technical specifications for accessibility as defined in that report, then, yes, you have to have signage that indicates that this trail does meet those technical specifications. It has not been determined what that sign looks like. It obviously is not going to probably be the international symbol of accessibility since it-certainly the trail is probably not going to meet the guidelines that a sign is associated with, typically in the built environment. But there is a requirement that a trail be-that is accessible that meets the guidelines does require signage. Now, you were talking about trail assessments and certainly assessing a trail is, we think, and we earn courage it strongly that entire trail be assessed entirely for these technical provisions because it is going to provide a lot more information to the user, potential user, all users, whether it is an elderly person or young person or person with a disability or whatever, it is going to provide some very valuable information that a sign can''t provide. And so certainly, you know, and what might be, you know, sort of like in the built environment, a ramp that is no greater than 1:12 can be considered accessible, but some 50% of population can''t independently go up a 1:12 slope. So the same would be true on trails. There is probably, and probably there will be some of the specifications that could be met and still be considered accessible, but that doesn''t mean all of the users, that all of the users are going to be able to independently access those. So the more information you can provide to the potential user, the better-the easier it is going to be for them to make a decision as to whether that is a trail want to hike or not.
Good morning, guys. Actually it is morning still up here in Alaska. One question and one solution for the first caller, Jesse Owens had invented that 3-wheeled trail bike and I will get you that information that way you could put it up on the website. And the second thing is I would like some clarification for the definition between the outdoor access routes in a trail, if you could help me a little bit with this. I will go ahead and give you an example just for ease. Would be if you had a parking lot and then a pathway leading to an accessible waterfall area. Now regardless of whether it was 100 feet or 2, 3 miles, would that be considered an access route or a trail, leading to an accessible feature?
That actually is a good question and am going to actually defer it to you in a second, Gary, is that-money in a, thanks for asking it, is that you are all-especially park and recreation practitioner that are out in the field, you are all going to get to a point that you are actually standing on a path and trying to figure out if this is an accessible outdoor recreation route, or is this a trail? And so, you know, the first part of that response I would have to say is that you would have to really look at what the purpose of that experience was intended to be, and so from that, I''m going to turn it over to you, Gary.
Yeah, I think basically, in most cases and I can''t think of really any that it wouldn''t be, it would be a trail because you are going from the parking lot to a prominent feature that-and that is the purpose. The purpose is to get from point A to point B, rather than most cases the outdoor recreation access route is moving you from element to element. So in my opinion, it would be, it would be considered a trail.
You have referenced several studies that you''ve done and new rules and regulations that have come out. We are wondering where we can get a copy of those. Are they posted on the website?
You can go through our National Center on Accessibility website, which is NCA online. That is all one word. Dot O R G, and you can go through there topically. We have sections there that range on recreation areas from beaches and swimming pools to golf, playgrounds and trails and picnic areas. And then we also have a section for the handout today that we referred to Monograph that is under our publications listing, is that we have about 10 different Monographs on various topics. If you are working with picnic areas or campgrounds, there are Monographs there that kind of put the proposed results of the report into more use usable quick format. So that is NCA online dot ORG.
I''m involved in wilderness and near wilderness land management, and my question has to do with something that is in the draft report, something close to my heart, others I work with. The question had to do with whether backcountry elements should be made accessible if their located in places that are accessed by trails which are not accessible. And you know, for the most part, we are talking about trails that currently exist and therefore, you know, won''t be subject to major alteration and so, you know, none of the guidelines will kick in. So you might be 2-4 miles in the backcountry and decide that you want to build a lean-to or, and with that a pit privy, pit toilet. You know, there are so many variations of this question. You''ve got an existing trail and the bridge needs to be totally rebuilt. It is a foot trail. The foot trail is not and never will be made accessible. You are 3 miles in the woods, should you make that rebuilt bridge accessible with ramps and everything else. Obviously, the accessible privy is a much more substantial structure and requires more expense and quite a bit of process to get it into the backcountry, etcetera. I don''t know whether this question has more of an answer since the final report was submitted. I''m also confused about whether these things are considered structures or just elements, you know, since you don''t generally think of a bathroom as a structure in the built environment. You probably are anticipating all these questions, so I''m just wondering what you say about that.
Lots of discussion about, about all of those, all of those items that you raised. I''m not sure that I can give you definitive answers, but I will give you some of my thoughts about it. One of the things that we spent a lot of time discussing was sort of the trail access in the middle of nowhere, which is kind of what you are talking about. Basically, in the final analysis decided that, no, if you go somewhere two or three miles and, you know, and there is no way that that trail to that point could be made accessible or it is an existing trail that is not subject to accessibility or whatever the reason, then you would not be required to create accessibility in the middle of nowhere, In terms of the trail itself. There was a lot of discussion, though, and more sentiment for making elements accessible, whether it is the privy or the bridge or whatever it might be, simply because you can''t always who might get there under what circumstances they might be able to get there. I think particularly the privy issue, in fact, I''m sorry that off the top of my head I can''t think of the specific circumstances, but you probably heard, and I believe it was on mountain Rainer, where an individual with a disability was able to hike Mount Rainer and he got there and the room was not accessible or the privy was not accessible and raised a number of issues about that and my understanding was that in fact they did have to go back and put in an accessible rest room. So that doesn''t necessarily answer your question, but I think that certainly the sentiment is that where, you know, where you are going to build something, a structure, then it should be accessible.
I guess my question is separate from whether or not we decide that it is a good idea. I mean obviously we are interested as an agency and in making things accessible, but for various reasons it is always nice to start from what are you legally required to do, and so I''m wondering specifically that is really my specific question today, what is your best guess interes-about whether this is currently legally required as opposed to may become legally required once the regulation is adopted.
Yeah, I''m not going to jump into that one. Okay. Because I really don''t know. But I can tell you that it is a question that is out there, and if you were to do that today, I honestly, I honestly could not give you an opinion on that. Because there just hasn''t been, you know, like so many other things with the ADA, that you don''t know the answer until the lawsuit''s over. And I hope not to get there. Yeah, I know, and I understand that. I just don''t know. I think that that will be something that will be debated hot and heavy in the public comment period and hopefully the public input on that will be substantial enough to where the access board can make that determination on which way to go on that.
What it, is I''m involved in the design of winter and summer trails. Do these guidelines apply to winter trails? We have snowshoe and ski trails. If we do that, do we groom them, do we not groom them, we also design in very steep terrain so we can separate between snowshoe and ski. Does this apply if any, at all to that type of thing?
If the trail is intended for a type of use, like, for example, if it is a trail that is intended for snowshoe use, then that is certainly acceptable. If it is not, if it is not intended for people walking, you know, if it is intended for a sled or snow shoes or skis or whatever, that is certainly a legitimate purpose for a trail and it would just have to ensure that people, you know, that there is no obstacles on that trail that would eliminate an individual''s ability who might have access to a specially designed sled or snow shoe or whatever to utilize that. That is my understanding of how to answer that question.
We have an issue in the city of Chicago right now in regards a recreational area along the lake front where there is a plan to have it paved with concrete that it would be more accessible with people with disabilities. It currently has limestone and the option is to replace it with limestone or replace it with concrete. Is there anything in the outdoor areas rules that would speak to that issue?
Can you describe the area or the purpose of the-is it a trail or is it a path or, or-what is the purpose?
Yes, pedestrians typically go by the lake sit on the limestone or they; they walk along the lakefront along that path area.
It is probably an accessible route, I would guess, and needs to be accessible.
So if the limestone can''t be made accessible, you would say concrete would be a replacement?
Well, anything-you know, any substance that would be firm and stable has to pass the firm and stable test. Jennifer, do you have any thoughts about that?
Well, I think you also have to look at what is exactly the nature of the limestone that they are currently using or proposing to use. You know, we do know from complaints that have been resolved through the department of that gravel, so to speak, or peak gravel, that those are the types of surfaces that the department of interior has said, no, those are not accessible surfaces. So you could kind of look to the complaints that have been resolved as far as surfaces. But if you have other types of-and really, and Gary can talk about this too, if you have limestone where you have like a quarter minus stone or smaller and that you have fine materials mixed into it, it could actually end up meeting that requirement of firm and stable as well. It would depend on how well it is maintained. So to just generally say limestone or gravel is or is not accessible, it is not really-I guess I''m kind of giving that it depends answer that you know from the department of justice, but it really does depend on the nature of the substance itself. It probably wouldn''t be considered firm or stable if you could step into it and twist or foot and have more penetration into the surface, then it might not necessarily meet the firm and stable.
I think the issue is probably whether it is defined. I''m still not clear, but whether it would be defined as an accessible route, an outdoor recreation access route or a trail. It is probably an accessible route that would be required to meet the requirements of the accessible route. But yeah, the firm and stable really, there is a test for firmness and stability that, that can be applied to determine if, whatever the substance is, there is no requirement for concrete. There is no requirement for asphalt. There is just a requirement for a test for firmness and stability.
Back to the wilderness. I''m thinking about tent sites. We have interest in making some of our primitive tent sites accessible. In some areas they are very easy to get to you can drive to some, but others, you know, are a little ways off road and we have to link them from a parking area with an access road. But the kind of a management issue we are thinking about, you know, in these remote locations not having very many tent sites and making what will amount to the most accessible, most attractive site, you know, out there for people with disabilities, and the question is, well, I guess we could talk about recommendations on the one hand, but on the other hand maybe there are any legal issues having to do with whether this site needs to be reserved for the exclusive use of people with disabilities or whether we make the site accessible, we leave it out there and it is first come first serve. If you are not a person with a disability and you occupy the site and a person with a disability comes along, oh well.
That is a really good question, and that one, as staff we get that question a lot and we debated pros and cons back and forth. It is not really very clear in the recommendations right now whether or not there needs to be signage on it. What it comes down is kind of a policy and procedure-type issue. And so we have a lot of experiences with parks that will put up some type of signage not, you know, the little blue international symbol of accessible but more of informational type signage to indicate to people either at the camp site itself or the map on the camp site that this is the accessible camp site and to please give courtesy to park visitors that might need the accessibility. So that is kind of a policy/procedure issue. But it is also a really good question that when it comes time for the period of public comment to also ask that type of question so that it does get flagged when these proceed on through to policy and procedure issues through adoption from the department of justice.
And what we hear a lot people doing really is, and again, it is, it is a customer service situation. It is not a legal issue or it is not a legal answer, but basically creating the policy, as Jennifer states, and particularly in a very popular camp ground where there is high demand for these sites to basically reserve this site until a certain time prior to the site being used and then releasing it to the public. But to allow a potential user with a disability to reserve that site up to a certain time prior to the date and then release it, and then just to publicize what that policy is.
Okay. Well, thank you very much. And we are at the rounding out the end of our time period here right now and we really appreciate the time that both Gary and Jennifer have spent with us in discussing topic. I think we probably could go and on and on because there are so many questions and so many thing, as Jennifer says, it depends by the various aspects and the details of any particular situation, but I do want to thank you for your time today and although you''ve probably been on the call today for joining us and showing interest in this particular question. If there are questions or things that you did not get answered today or further follow-up that you would like, both of our speakers would be available, I''m sure, through their website. I know that they have a technical assistance aspect where people can ask questions. Am I correct?
That is right, yes.
And As well as contacting your Disability and Business Technical Assistance center who may also be able to assist you, and we work with and have relationships with the National Center, soy think that either way, we can help you get your question answered. You can contact the Regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers by calling 800-949-4232 both voice and TTY. I also would like to point you to the fact that next month we have a session which will be offered on December 16th, and it''s topic, we are shifting gears a little bit, which will be focusing case law and "After the Supreme Court, how are the lower courts brought forth under the Americans with Disabilities Act." The speaker for that session will be Barry Taylor, who is director of litigation services for Equip for Equality. I invite you to join us. That program will start 1:00 p.m. central time. As I said earlier, a transcript of this session will appear on our website in the next 5-7 days. You can link to it under website, under transcripts off of our website. Again that website address is www.adaGreat Lakes.org. I''d also like to repeat the NCA, National Center on Accessibility''s web site where they have wealth of information and documents not only on the topics we covered today, but issues related to the accessibility in recreation environments, which is www.ncaonline.org. Again, thank very much and this concludes our session.