The Access Board, which oversees the Americans with Disabilities Act, has just run a Federal Register notice to convene a group to reach a consensus on rulemaking for "outdoor developed areas." This will address trails, camping and picnic areas, and beaches.
American Trails has been invited to participate, along with groups like the National Association of State Trail Administrators, the American Assoc. of Landscape Architects, KOA Inc., Natl. Assoc. of State Park Directors, Natl. Parks and Conservation Assoc., various federal agencies, and several interest groups for people with disabilities.
We will pass the information from this process on to other interested trails advocates. Certainly we need to follow common sense. Obviously we can do a better job of providing many trails without obstacles, but just as obviously we can't make the great outdoors conform to an 8% grade with handrails. Nor is paving desirable on backcountry trails. We also see improved surfaces that are suitable for a wide variety of uses on rail-trails, some appropriate routes in county parks, on interpretive trails, etc.
Finally, new technology is bringing much more capable fat-tired wheelchairs&emdash;and a lot of folks regardless of disability want a challenge. Our job will be to understand these complex issues and reach a consensus on how best to serve the needs of all trail users.