Feature Article - January 2011
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Are You Accessible?

Tips From the Pros on Compliance With New ADA Standards

By Margaret Ahrweiler

Accessibility Plus

What's more, with a little thought and creativity, planners can provide access to all kinds of facilities, Miles added, not just playgrounds, pools and playing fields, when considering the 2010 standards.

At Apex Center, even the climbing wall accommodates disabled users, said Terry Goldwater, the center's manager. At the request of a special recreation group, Apex found special climbing harnesses to accommodate severely disabled users. While wheelchair-bound patrons couldn't necessarily use the wall like other patrons, they got to experience the thrill of ascent as belayers guided them to the top of the wall.

Similarly, Apex hosted the USA Cup Sled Hockey in 2005. While the event took place long before the 2010 guidelines, districts can still learn Apex's experience, Goldwater said. (In sled hockey, disabled players who might normally use wheelchairs use specially designed sleds to play competitive ice hockey.)

"The ice rinks were already pretty accessible, but we did have to adapt the player boxes and penalty boxes, which normally had a step," Goldwater said. "The tournament was an outstanding success, with players coming all the way from Europe, and it really showed how it pays off to accommodate disabled user's needs."

Since then, the center even has hosted disabled groups who take their wheelchairs out on the ice with aides, she added.

Apex also met accessibility standards for its fitness rooms and equipment well before the new rules took effect. Miles reassured recreation professionals that meeting the new standards for fitness equipment constitutes one of the easiest areas to comply without spending any money. Facilities now need to allow a 30-by-48-inch turning space for fitness machines. Typically, this can be accomplished by ensuring one treadmill, exercise bike or elliptical at the end of a row of machines provides enough space, he said. Similarly, one set of weight benches and racks needs additional space.