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The Access Board has posted for 60 days of Public Review their Draft Final Outdoor Areas Accessibility Guidelines (pdf 228 kb) for developed areas such as campgrounds, picnic areas, etc and also for trails.


arrow View the slides from the Access Board's Dec. 3 Webinar on "Draft Final Guidelines on Outdoor Developed Area" (pdf 150 kb)


Accessibility Guidelines for Federal lands reach final publication

September 21, 2013

The Final Rule Outdoor Developed Areas Accessibility Guidelines from the Access Board has completed the Office of Management and Budget's Regulatory Assessment and is expected to be published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2013. The Access Board will be presenting a webinar on the Accessibility Guidelines on October 17, 2013 scheduled for 1 pm - 4 pm (ET). More information is available from American Trails at Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas finalized for Federal lands.


Outdoor Accessibility proposal heads back to OMB

From National Center on Accessibility, Nov. 19, 2012


The U.S. Access Board is awaiting the process to set rulemaking for outdoor developed areas back in motion. The rulemaking had been delayed earlier this year due to a backlog at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It is not unusual for federal agencies to experience rulemaking delays during the election cycle. The guidelines for outdoor developed areas will include trails, beaches, campgrounds and picnic areas covered by the Architectural Barriers Act. The Board approved final text for the rule earlier in 2012. Constituent groups such as federal land managers and disability groups hope the rulemaking with resume fairly soon as the outdoor guidelines provide the most comprehensive technical provisions to date for open recreation spaces. See the 2009 draft final accessibility guidelines...


Board releases Accessibility Guidelines for trails and recreation on Federal lands


By Bill Botten, US Access Board, October 25, 2009:

THE U.S. ACCESS BOARD HAS made available for public review and comment draft final accessibility guidelines that address trails, camping facilities, picnic facilities, viewing areas, outdoor recreation access routes, and beach access routes. The guidelines will apply to sites developed or altered by Federal land management agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and Army Corps of Engineers.

photo of wheelchair

The proposed guidelines cover new trails and

other facilities on federal lands

The format of the guidelines has changed from a stand-alone document to an integrated document with the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines (ABA). Releasing the draft final guidelines will provide another opportunity for the public to comment on the changes made from the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in June of 2007.

Throughout the rulemaking process, the federal accessibility program managers from all of the land management agencies have met and worked to provide input that has shaped the draft final guidelines. Their expertise helped the Board to simplify the draft final guidelines to promote access by persons with disabilities while understanding the natural environment and maintain consistency with agency resources and management practices.

After a 60 day comment period, the Board will proceed to finalize the guidelines and republish as a final rule based on the public comments received. Additionally, the Access Board is collaborating with the Federal land management agencies to develop a separate technical assistance document to accompany the final rule. The draft final guidelines, supplementary information, and information on submitting your comments are available on the Access Board’s web site.

The Board is also planning to offer a webinar to help those interested in reviewing the Accessibility draft final guidelines. For more information and details on when this program will be offered, please contact Bill Botten at (202) 272-0014 or



Access Board expects to soon release a draft of final guidelines


August 27, 2009: Access Board approved text of final guidelines for Federal outdoor developed areas and the text of proposed guidelines for accessible public rights-of-ways.

The Board will soon release for public review a draft of final guidelines covering access to outdoor sites managed by the Federal government, including national parks and recreation areas. These guidelines address how to achieve accessibility in outdoor developed areas and take into account challenges and constraints posed by terrain, the degree of development, and other factors. They specify where compliance is required and provide detailed technical criteria for new or altered trails, beach routes, and picnic and camping facilities. The guidelines will apply to sites developed or altered by Federal land management agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others.

The Board is finalizing the guidelines based on public comments it received in response to a proposed version published in 2007. The final version will include revisions made to clarify various provisions and exceptions. Conditions that necessitate departures are recognized, including situations where meeting certain provisions would compromise natural features, require prohibited construction methods or materials, or be infeasible due to terrain.

The Board is releasing a draft of the final guidelines to allow interested parties the opportunity to comment on the revised format. As initially proposed, the guidelines were organized as a stand-alone document. The Board has restructured the final version for integration into the Board's existing guidelines for facilities covered by the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which were issued jointly with guidelines updated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA and ABA guidelines cover a variety of elements and spaces that are often part of outdoor developed areas, including parking, restrooms, drinking fountains, and recreation facilities. Integrating the criteria for outdoor sites into the existing guidelines will be beneficial for many users by bringing all relevant information together in one source. However, to preserve some of the benefits of a stand-alone document, the Board plans to prepare a companion guide on the final rule in cooperation with Federal land management agencies.

The draft final guidelines (pdf 228 kb) will be available for review for 60 days and will be posted on the Board's website at The Board intends to develop similar guidelines for outdoor developed areas controlled by non-Federal entities at a future date.


Rulemaking on outdoor recreation sites and rights-of-way progresses

From the Access Board (Feb. 2009)

The Board continues to make progress on guidelines it is developing or updating in a variety of areas. At its January 2009 meeting, the Board approved the text of final guidelines for Federal outdoor developed areas and the text of proposed guidelines for accessible public rights-of-ways. The Board will proceed with the remaining steps that must be completed before these guidelines can be published, including adding figures and advisory notes, drafting companion discussions of the rules, and preparing cost impact assessments. At the same time, work will proceed on several other rulemaking initiatives.

Final Guidelines for Federal Outdoor Developed Areas

The guidelines for outdoor developed areas will cover access to trails, beach access routes, and picnic and camping areas on sites managed by the Federal government. They will address how, and to what extent, access can be achieved in light of challenges and constraints posed by terrain, the degree of development, construction practices and materials, and other factors. The Board is finalizing the guidelines based on input received from the public on a proposed version published in 2007. In response to the proposed guidelines, the Board received comments from Federal land management agencies, professional and trade groups, individuals with disabilities, disability groups, trail and park operators and designers, and state and local parks and recreation agencies. The comments addressed all sections of the proposed guidelines, including provisions covering trails and outdoor recreation access routes, beach access routes, picnic areas, and camp sites, and called attention to compliance concerns and areas where further guidance is needed.


Proposed Guidelines for Public Rights-of-Way

The Board’s guidelines for public rights-of-way will cover access to sidewalks and streets, including street crossings, access for pedestrians with vision impairments, on-street parking, and constraints posed by terrain and space limitations, among other topics. The Board previously released drafts of the guidelines for public input but must follow up with an official proposal and comment period before the guidelines can be finalized. In addition to the feedback received on earlier drafts, the upcoming proposal will incorporate information gained through close coordination with counterpart agencies and research on rights-of-way issues the Board has sponsored or promoted. The proposed guidelines also will be responsive to issues further identified through the Board’s extensive outreach and training program on rights-of-way accessibility.

Further information on these rulemakings is available on the Board’s website at


Board Continues Outreach on Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility

As work on new rights-of-way guidelines progresses, the Board remains committed to an active outreach program to provide interim guidance on achieving accessible streetscapes. The Board regularly delivers training, technical assistance, and resources on the topic, often in partnership with various organizations, including professional associations, advocacy groups, and counterpart agencies. Most recently, the Board conducted a series of trainings for the Michigan Department of Transportation as part of a course developed by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. The Board also provides training programs of its own upon request at different locations across the country. Training sessions, which range from hour-long workshops to full day programs, are targeted to the needs and interests of each audience.


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