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Feature Article - October 2008

All-Access Recreation

Going Beyond ADA to Meet All Needs

By Stacy St Clair


You can't put a price on universal accessibility, but that hasn't stopped contractors from putting steep price tags on plans to make buildings and parks more accessible.

Recreation facilities and sporting venues have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 18 years to make themselves compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that ensures everyone has access to public settings. As the legislation marked its 18th anniversary this summer, the federal government has been weighing 1,000 pages of suggested changes to the law.

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or the first time, the proposed regulations will establish requirements for an array of recreational facilities including playgrounds and swimming pools, amusement parks and golf courses, according to Grace Chung Becker, the acting assistant attorney general for the department's civil rights division. Proponents say they hope the changes will make it easier for individuals with disabilities to travel, enjoy sports and leisure activities, play and otherwise participate in society.

"We expect that measures will be taken to ensure access to places of public accommodation and government services, and we now have a common appreciation that to live a full and fulfilling life, one must have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of American life," Becker said. "And while there has been much progress since the enactment of the ADA, there is still more work to be done. As times change and with advancement in technology and other developments that enhance our quality of life, we must update our regulations to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity for full engagement and involvement in our civic life."

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