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ADA, Beaches and the Need for Accessibility


By Dan Hounsell ADA
Wheelchair woman sitting with arms up on the beach

Warm-weather vacations become more popular as the weather cools, but for travelers with disabilities, beaches can present accessibility challenges, according to Mic.com. Just as state and local governments are responsible for addressing and removing barriers to accessibility in institutional and commercial facilities, they must pay attention to the same issues on beaches.

For people with disabilities, a beach day can be a complex challenge that includes research, tough decisions and lots of compromises. The United States Access Board has comprehensive guidelines for recreation and outdoor areas, including standards for the number of beach access routes required — at least one — and the width of a firm and stable access route surface. But figuring out logistics often requires research at the expense of the wheelchair user.

“It’s not just a question of whether the beach is or isn’t accessible,” says Stefan Honisch, a researcher and wheelchair user in British Columbia, Canada. Honisch noted the importance of location and facilities: “Can I be assured that the bus stop near the beach will stop in a place that I feel is physically safe to even get to the beach? Then, will there be wheelchair-accessible washrooms in the area, or do I have to shorten my trip to ensure that I can get back to a place where I know they do have wheelchair accessible facilities?”

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.

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