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American Trails presents "Getting the Word Out about Accessibility of Trails and Outdoor Recreation" as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"



Getting the Word Out about Accessibility of Trails and Outdoor Recreation

American Trails presented this Webinar on April 26, 2018. Presented by Peter Axelson, Todd Ackerman, and Samuel Schnorbus of Beneficial Designs, Inc; as well as Mike Passo with American Trails.


This webinar provides an introduction to Universal Access Information and how it provides people with information they need to determine whether an outdoor recreation environment meets their needs for accessibility and their desires for an achievable challenge.




The presenters are:

Read more and learn about the presenter...



Learning Credits and CEUs


American Trails is now proud to be a certified provider of the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities:

Learning credits are included in the registration fee. Our webinars earn the following credits: AICP CM (1.5) LA CES (1.5), and NRPA CEU equivalency petition (0.10).


CLOSED CAPTIONING: We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with VZP Digital. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.


Webinar Partners




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Universal Access Information provides people with information they need to determine whether an outdoor recreation environment meets their needs for accessibility and their desires for an achievable challenge. The various families of Universal Access Information—Trail Access Information, Campsite Access Information, Picnic Access Information, Sidewalk Access Information, and Water Trail Access Information—meet the dissemination requirements of the ABA for all outdoor recreation paths of travel by providing objective information about physical conditions that affect accessibility. Using mathematical equations to perform weighted averaging of grades, cross slopes, tread widths, and surface firmness and stability, Trail Access Information is created for trails and other linear elements in the outdoor recreation environment and is displayed in a Food Facts label format to provide trail users with information about the conditions they will encounter in any given trail corridor. The information is available in a variety of formats with standardized fonts and formats that trail users across the country are learning to recognize. Standard signage layouts have also been developed for campsites, picnic sites, shared-use paths/sidewalks, and watercraft landing sites, providing information about accessible features.









This webinar qualifies as a Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) course (via LA CES).



Presenters for the Webinar:


photo of peter

Peter W. Axelson received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design in 1979 and an M.S.M.E. degree in Smart Product Design in 1982, both from Stanford University. He is the founder (1981) and the Director of Research and Development at Beneficial Designs, Inc., a rehabilitation engineering design firm that works towards universal access through research, design, and education. With funding from various federal agencies, Beneficial Designs developed a system to measure and define outdoor recreation trails (Universal Trail Assessment Process, or UTAP). Beneficial Designs then obtained additional funding to design the computerized High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process (HETAP) and the Developed Outdoor Recreation Assessment Process (DORAP). Trail Access Information, included on trailhead signage that meets Architectural Barriers Act requirements, benefits people with mobility impairments, parents with strollers, hikers with low vision, aging outdoor enthusiasts, and many others. This universal design approach to consumer information also helps inform other companies on how to make technologies more accessible to people with cognitive impairments. Peter Axelson and his staff at Beneficial Designs continue to work on standards for improved accessibility for ski areas, amusement parks, playgrounds and other outdoor recreation environments, as well as design improvements for recreational and fitness equipment for people with mobility impairments. Beneficial Designs has also guided the development of universal design standards for sidewalks and trails across the country. The company has also developed a variety of technologies to improve seating and mobility systems for people who use wheelchairs. Peter has served on the American Trails Board of Directors, and has been a member of standards committees for the Recreation Access Advisory Committee to the U.S. Access Board (U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board) and also the Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Outdoor Developed Area Guidelines. In addition, he is Secretary of the RESNA Standards Committee on Adaptive Ski Equipment, a member of the RESNA Standards Committee on Wheelchairs, a member of the Paralyzed Veterans of American Research Foundation Board of Directors, and a member of the ASTM Playground Surfacing Systems Subcommittee. Peter regularly gives presentations at the annual RESNA and Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals conferences. He recently presented research about assistive technology for airline travel at the PVA Summit & Expo. He is a regular guest lecturer in the Perspectives in Assistive Technology course at Stanford University. He has taught the trail assessment process at dozens of workshops over the last two decades. Peter is an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast. He enjoys cross-country and alpine skiing. He likes hiking in his street wheelchair, Cobra, and all-terrain vehicle. He also enjoys kayaking, canoeing, and rafting.






photo of stu

Todd Ackerman is an ADA/Assessment Coordinator at Beneficial Designs. Mr. Ackerman participates in both field collection of data and processing of the data for sidewalk and trail assessments. He has participated in more than 60% of the sidewalk assessment projects (including public right-of-way and access route assessments) completed by Beneficial Designs using the Public Right-of-Way Assessment Process (PROWAP). Mr. Ackerman combines his passion for accessibility, his enjoyment of the outdoors, and his love of teaching by regularly teaching certification workshops for the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) and the High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process (HETAP). In these workshops, participants gain practical experience out on the trail. He has taught more than 15 of these workshops while at Beneficial Designs. He also has presented the Developed Outdoor Recreation Assessment Process (DORAP) at conferences. Mr. Ackerman also contributes his knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards, Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Standards, and the California Building Code (CBC) on plan review projects and site assessments.






photo of a Margie

Samuel Schnorbus is a Technician at Beneficial Designs and has performed many trail and sidewalk assessments across the United States. He has led assessment teams, trained assessors, and co-taught trail assessment training workshops at conferences, where participants gain classroom knowledge and hands-on experience using the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) and the High-Efficiency Trail Assessment Process (HETAP). He also has experience following ANSI, RESNA, and ISO standards in performing mobility device testing and laboratory and in-field testing of surface firmness and stability. He enjoys exploring state and national parks, national forests, and wilderness areas. He is currently pursuing a BS in Civil Engineering, with a focus on Transportation.






photo of a Margie

Mike Passo is the Executive Director of American Trails. Mike has also served as the Executive Director of the Professional Trailbuilders Association and the owner and operator of a sea kayak outfitter called Elakah Expeditions. Mike has led groups of all backgrounds, ages and abilities on sea kayak expeditions in the San Juan Islands of Washington, Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Mike has conducted an extensive study of outdoor developed areas nationwide to determine the cost implications of construction according to proposed Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and a Congressional study on improving access to outdoor recreational activities on federal land. He has a B.S. in Recreation Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, including three years’ coursework in Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering. He has presented on Universal Design and Programming at several national conferences and served on the Board of Directors of American Trails since 2000. His love of the outdoors and his own paraplegia has given him a great interest in the creation of an accessible outdoor environment that does not ruin the characteristics and value of that environment.




Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines (ABAAG)


Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines (FSORAG) pocket version


Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) notes on most recent best practices for designing accessible sidewalks and trails


Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access
Part I (1999):
Part II (2001):


Beneficial Designs Outdoor Recreation Products and Services


Beneficial Designs Firmness and Stability Equipment


Research regarding Firmness and Stability Equipment

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