Rulemaking history by the U.S. Access Board has shown less participation by people with disabilities than participation among the affected industries. For example, when the Access Board released its last notice of proposed rule on recreation facilities, few individuals with disabilities submitted public comment. But, many industry leaders, manufacturers, and industry organizations submitted comments to the Access Board disagreeing with the proposed accessibility guidelines and actually requesting less access. Significant volume of public comment can affect the final requirements within the rule. Note the preamble of the Access Board's Recreation Final Rule from September 3, 2002 and the explanation as to why the section on amusement rides has significantly less access requirements than previously stated in the Proposed Rule:
Significant comment on amusement ride accessibility was received on the proposed rule. The proposed rule would have required that one wheelchair space and one transfer seat be provided for each 100 seats on new amusement rides and proposed technical provisions for the wheelchair spaces and transfer seats. The majority of comments were from amusement park operators, and amusement ride manufacturers and designers. The Board also received comments from groups representing persons with disabilities.
Overall, commenters did not support the provisions in the proposed rule for access to amusement rides. The commenters stated that the proposed rule lacked flexibility, making it impossible for most rides to comply with the guidelines given the uniqueness of this industry. They also raised concern about the lack of available manufactured rides that would meet the proposed provisions. Most rides are manufactured outside the United States where there is an absence of accessibility requirements. The ride manufacturers in the United States indicated significant hardship on their businesses to retool to meet some of the proposed technical provisions. Amusement park operators interpreted the proposed rule to require operators to modify manufactured rides. Most indicated that they were either unwilling or unable to modify a ride in a way that would differ from the manufacturer's specifications because they were not willing to accept the liability associated with modifying the ride or did not have sufficient engineering expertise to do so.
Based on this information, the final rule differs significantly from the proposed rule. The final rule makes major changes in the number of accessible spaces per ride and in the options for providing access. It also includes different requirements for wheelchair spaces and for ride seats designed for individuals to transfer from their wheelchair or other mobility device. The final rule provides the flexibility requested by commenters in this unique environment, while still providing a high level of accessibility to persons with disabilities.