Background on Access to Recreation Facilities & Programs
Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) require facilities to be accessible to people with disabilities. For example, all newly constructed parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, museums, theaters, federal buildings, government facilities, and places of public accommodation are required to comply with federal accessibility design guidelines.
In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the ADA require programs and services to be made accessible to people with disabilities. Programs and services provided by the federal government, units of state and local government, and private businesses are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities. For example, a person who is blind or visually impaired must receive the same opportunities and benefits from a program as a person who is sighted. To achieve this, the site will need to use effective communication to convey interpretive, safety and site design information. (For more information, see Recreation Access Rights under the ADA by John N. McGovern, JD.)
To assist in understanding the physical accessibility of a site, visitors with disabilities should become familiar with the accessibility guidelines developed by the U.S. Access Board. These guidelines are available online at US Access Board and cover physical access to buildings as well as recreation environments. For assistance applying these guidelines to a recreational activity or facility, contact the National Center on Accessibility.