On Sept. 26 the U.S. Access Board issued new accessibility guidelines for outdoor areas developed by the federal government, according to the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

CalARVC notes that the guidelines are only for federal recreation sites, and it will be several years before commercial businesses will have to comply with the guidelines.

The guidelines provide detailed specifications for accessible trails, picnic and camping areas, viewing areas, beach access routes and other components of outdoor developed areas when newly built or altered. They also provide exceptions for situations where terrain and other factors make compliance impracticable.

“The board is eager to release these guidelines, which were long in the making, to explain how access to the great outdoors can be achieved,” said Karen L. Braitmayer, chair of the Access Board. “The greatest challenge in developing these guidelines was balancing what’s needed for accessibility against what’s possible in natural environments with limited development.”

Requirements for trails, outdoor recreation access routes, and beach access routes address surface characteristics, width, and running and cross slopes.

Exceptions are included under certain conditions. Departures are permitted where compliance is not practical because of terrain or prevailing construction practices. Exceptions are also recognized where compliance would conflict with mandates such as the Endangered Species Act and other laws or where it would fundamentally alter a site’s function or purpose.

The Access Board will address the guidelines Nov. 8 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. (EST) as a free webinar.

In the webinar, Board representatives will review scoping and technical requirements of the new guidelines which will become effective as part of the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards on Nov. 25. For more information, including registration instructions, visit www.accessibilityonline.org