By John McGovern, Principal-in-Charge, Accessibility Consulting
All 50 states are subject to title II of the ADA. The title II regulation, last published by the US DOJ on September 14, 2010, and effective March 15, 2011, requires all 89,004 states and local governments to adhere, in section 35.151, to the 2010 Standards.
A state department of conservation in, as an example, Florida or New Mexico, when designing or constructing a new playground, must adhere to the 2010 Standards regarding these new playgrounds (new is after March 15, 2012). It must also, in grant programs to local entities, compel compliance with the 2010 Standards.
A county, city, school district, or special purpose park and recreation district such as, for example, Morris County (NJ), Las Vegas, or Deerfield Park District (IL), when designing or constructing a new playground, must adhere to the 2010 Standards regarding these new playgrounds (new is after March 15, 2012).
Regarding existing playgrounds, a state, county, city, school district, or special purpose park and recreation district is required by title II section 35.105 to evaluate its existing sites for compliance with the only playground access standard, the 2010 Standards. In our world of playgrounds, we refer to this step as an access audit. At every existing playground, a listing of access deficits is compiled and a recommended solution for each is considered.
The US DOJ has made it clear that not necessarily every existing site need be made accessible (see section 35.150(a)(1)). Therefore, integral to this process is the application of the complex "program access test for existing facilities" found at title II 35.150. The process should yield the number of agency playgrounds that will, over time, be made accessible. That retrofit work must comply with the 2010 Standards. But...how many recurring sites, such as playgrounds, must be made accessible? There is no DOJ ratio here. It is a community-by-community solution. We have worked closely with our local government clients to address this and have a very good approach to this issue. Units of state and local government must convert this work product into a 35.150(d) transition plan.
For both new and existing sites, do remember to blend in the more stringent state and local codes.
For both new and existing sites, do blend in ASTM Standards, such as F1487, F1292, and F1951, which are incorporated by reference into the 2010 Standards. Here it is interesting to note that the ASTM term "public use" has a definition that does not perfectly match the ADA title II and ADA title III definitions for playgrounds owned and operated by certain types of entities. It is unlikely this will change. It is therefore important to be aware of this difference and be able to use all three terms appropriately.
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