View Full Version : The ATC compliance to The Americans With Disabilities Act

05-06-2008, 09:00
The Americans With Disabilities Act was enacted to ensure that all Americans will have access to Public Facilities. That no American would be denied access to Public Places due to poor design. It is now federally mandated that all public facilities will by design be open to all Americans. This article is to address that Appalachian Trail Conservancy's compliance to The Americans With Disabilities Act. As a society we like to believe that people will comply with the Law and will act in good faith. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has been given a pass by saying that the Appalachian Trail is a Wilderness Trail, it has been given that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will comply with the Law and act in good faith.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's has through it's actions has shown little regard for the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Americans With Disabilities Act legislates that Structures will be accessible to all Americans regardless of disabilities. It is not uncommon to find “Privy's” without roofs or sides to avoid compliance to Americans With Disabilities Act. A privy without a roof or sides is not a “structure”. It should be noted that some A.T.C. privy's have ramps and hand rails attached to the walls. There are far more privy's without roofs and sides than those Privy's that include ramps and side rails.
The manner of trail construction and the routing of the Appalachian Trail has shown a lack of compliance to the American's With Disabilities Act. The following are three examples from widely geographically dispersed locations of where the A.T.C. Has routed the Appalachian Trail from fairly negotiable hiking tread to climbing tread that involves rock scrambling or rock climbing. In an are close to Johnson Mountain there is a boulder strewn ridge, which at one time was Peregrine Falcon habitat. During the time that the Falcon habitat was protected the Appalachian Trail was routed beneath the ridge. As soon as the Falcon was moved to a less protected category the Appalachian Trail Conservancy routed the Appalachian Trail from a hiking tread to a rock scramble tread on the ridge through the previously protected habitat. This rerouting of the Appalachian Trail shows little regard for wild life or Disabled Access. A second example is the Mau-Har trail section. The Mau-Har is a hiking tread which has been superseded by a rock scramble reroute over Chimney Rocks and “Three Ridges”. Close to this section has been a reroute from hiking treas to climbing tread that involves a thirty foot rock climb in the Humpback Mountain area. Thirdly in the Mount Mariah area there has been a reroute from hiking tread to rock scramble tread. These are three of many examples of where the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has rerouted the Appalachian Trail Tread from fairly accessible hiking tread to less accessible rock scramble or rock climbing tread. These reroutes show little regard For The American's With Disabilities Act by The Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Lone Wolf
05-06-2008, 09:18
the stupidest thing i've seen recently is a wheelchair access privy at old orchard shelter near mount rogers. it's in a wilderness area. no way anyone in a wheelchair can get there. ridiculous waste of money

05-06-2008, 09:18
What is the point you are trying to make?:-?

05-06-2008, 09:22
Troll alert!!! aaaaaahhhhhoooooga

Two Speed
05-06-2008, 09:26
Gene, lemme show ya how that's done:

:jump:dance Troll Alert! Troll Alert! :dance:jump


05-06-2008, 09:27
Are you effin' kiddin' me? Face it, there are always going to be certain activities people with disabilities will not be able to participate in. It's just the way it is.

05-06-2008, 09:27
I think he wants to say that none of us can go anywhere that a person in a wheelchair can't. If someone in a wheelchair can't make it, then none of us should be allowed to go.

ADA is like many other federal and state regulations - taken WAY too far, and no common sense is used.

05-06-2008, 09:30
Let's knock the mountains down a few hundred feet and pave the whole trail. We can call it Operation Disability Freedom.

05-06-2008, 09:31
I'm just giggling at the idea that the Mau-Har trail is fairly accessible.

Obviously, someone hasn't been there.

05-06-2008, 09:40
Oh my god. Delete this piffle.

SGT Rock
05-06-2008, 09:40
Much of this is speculation at best. The ADA regulation never ment for people to make all trails wheelchair accessible. MOWGLI probably knows more about the actual route this is going through, but I reccomend you guys read this: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/accessible/McGovernADA.html

So to put this into context:

Condition 2. Where compliance would substantially alter the nature of the setting or the purpose of the area, or a portion of the area
If a trail is intended to scale a mountain, and the experience is to be a rugged steep ascent, then requiring continuous switchbacks and a reduced grade destroys the nature of the trail. Other examples include trails that traverse boulders or outcropping stones ascending and descending over and through the boulders and stones is indeed part of the experience. Removing the boulders and stones is possible but then the trail is not the same.

The Committee recognized that in some settings "people are generally looking for a higher degree of challenge and risk where they can use their outdoor/survival skills. This condition is intended to address these concerns." (pg 9, unpublished draft Final Report, Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas, July 9, 1999, US Access Board).

Basically: if you design a trail to be steep and go over boulders, it should have boulders and be steep.

le loupe
05-06-2008, 09:40
First of all its not an article- its a poorly written, disjointed, unedited couple of paragraphs.

As an architect & designer it is my belief that the ADA guidelines are for the built-environment. At that it only covers new construction or the modification of previous structures, not the retrofit of every building.

As the AT is not part of the built environment it can't fall within the scope of the various titled acts.

But hey, maybe it should all be flattened out so that no grade is steeper than 1:12 so that my battery powered wheelchair can get up every summit.

05-06-2008, 09:45
I've always figured that EA meant anyone who wanted to go there, was not prevented by fences, locks, guards, and the like from doing so. As in, if a water fountain is higher than someone in a wheelchair can reach while sitting in the wheelchair, it still has EA status unless it has a "Not for use by the handicapped sign" on it. It's a lot simpler for that wheelchair-user to bring a cup, than it is to redesign and replace all the water fountains in the country. What will happen, with a requirement to R & R all the water fountains, is that financially-pressed businesses will instead commonly will simply tear them out or, for new construction, never build them. Thus, the public in general will lose many water fountains, for no benefit for the relatively few disabled who would want to use them (including for those that can remember to bring a cup with them).

Besides, there is the issue of inconveniencing hundreds of adults who would no doubt prefer not to bend down to an unnaturally low level, so that one wheelchair-user doesn't have to remember to bring a cup along on outings. I don't think that the average wheelchair-user is anywhere near that special, that hundreds of other, also ordinary, people should be inconvenienced so that that one person (who happens to be a wheelchair-user) will not be inconvenienced. If it's so reasonable a concept let the advocates of such an idea convince owners of commercial establishments to do it of their own free will. If those owners choose not to, well, the marketplace and their own consciences are the only legitimate appeals, as ownership of a property means control of it.

Since the ADA came out, I have wondered when someone would sue to have the AT made handicapped-accessible. As I've said, I believe that anyplace that doesn't directly tell the handicapped they can't enter, is HA. The mountain K2 is HA, by my definition. However, to use the definition that advocates of infinite special rights for the handicapped use, the AT would need to be made into a level paved road over its entire distance (one that very few handicappeds are likely to want to thruhike). We already have such routes, Interstate highways and state/county roads. All that would happen if the AT were made level and paved is that hundreds of thousands of people would lose access to what it is now. The only "benefit" of this loss (and financial cost of many millions of dollars, taken by force from the unwilling) would be to provide the handicapped with just another ordinary road between Georgia and Maine. If someone makes the personal decision that the AT is not something they wish to or can traverse, there are already plenty of other routes to follow.

There is one other issue to consider, having to do with when a group is awarded what large numbers of other people consider to be unearned favoritism. (This does not describe military veteran's benefits in most Americans' eyes, especially for those injured or disabled in combat.) What it does is make them resent or even hate members of that group on a long-term basis. We have seen this happen with affirmative action for certain ethnic groups and for environmentalists. (Likewise, think of how rarely men on buses will give up their seats for even elderly or obviously pregnant women now, after 40+ years of feminist-pushed laws and regulations.) More than one American has changed from having pity and goodwill for the disabled to being uncaring for them at best after a few hundred times of having to park a great distance from a store entrance in the rain, and walking past numerous empty handicapped-only parking spaces right in front of the store entrance.

I don't think that changing the POV of most of the public from neutral or
favorable to resentful or even hatred for them and their goals is a good plan for any special-interest group. The chances of eventually ending up with a majority of the public who will forever oppose anything that group wants (even if for once reasonable) is just too high, the exact opposite of productive WRT such a special-interest group's goals. So it is with the handicapped and environmentalists, who would either level and pave the AT, or forever end access to it by the entire public, had they their wishes.

jersey joe
05-06-2008, 09:47
The Americans With Disabilities Act was enacted to ensure that all Americans will have access to Public Facilities.
Sometimes common sense must be infused into Laws...that's what judges are for.

05-06-2008, 09:50
I don't believe the ADA forbids the construction of trails that are not accessible by wheel chiars.

And for that matter, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy does not build or relocate trails. ATC publishes guidelines for the construction and maintenance of trails that it hopes, but does not require, maintaining clubs will follow.

The ultimate authority for what is built rests with the US Forest Service, the National Park Service or the state agencies that own the land over which the trail passes.

In my experience all three allow a great deal of flexibility.

Ramps to privies are a matter of federal law. The requirement is indeed silly. But handicap access advocacy groups oppose changes because they know that any exemption will become an excuse for further exemptions.

The requirement was rarely a problem when privies were mostly a box over a hole in the ground, surrounded by a small building. Modern privies tend to be mostly above ground to facilitate the decay of wastes and to minimize pollution. This makes a ramp more expensive and difficult to build, especially in Maine where often privies are located miles from the nearest road.


le loupe
05-06-2008, 09:51
Ok it does covers things like trails- althought the link by Sgt Rock was only a committees trying to create standards. That committee met in 1999 and came to no agreement as the article concludes. Virtually all those exception could be applied to the AT.

The AT is not essential services- Beyond that the ADA covers new or modified construction - not a retro-fit of existing buildings or environments.

05-06-2008, 09:52
Isn't that what the Blue Ridge Parkway is for?

05-06-2008, 09:53
Sometimes common sense must be infused into Laws...that's what judges are for.

Rather, elections, juries, and violent revolts with wide public support are the backstops. What's the progression on stopping gov't BS? Ballot box, jury box, cartridge box.

SGT Rock
05-06-2008, 09:56
Exactly. The ADA has not been applied to the AT. It has been applied to some new structures on the AT. The ATC guidelines apply to some parts of the trail more than others - but most of the time the FS and NPS have guidelines that the local maintenance clubs have to follow as Weary pointed out.

All new construction has to be approved by the local land manager. The ATC doesn't verify if the trail meets construction standards - that land manager does. This argument in the original 'article' was all a bunch of speculation. It is more like a poorly worded argument to get the trail put in certain places, and off others and to put lids on the privies. The ADA was the "evidence" or argument to support the why.

As has been pointed out - it is a lousy article. The best thing to do is to stop commenting on it and let it die.

Whoa Bear
05-06-2008, 10:01
I'm just giggling at the idea that the Mau-Har trail is fairly accessible.

Obviously, someone hasn't been there.

Me too, I also hiked from the wintergreen area to humback rocks parking lot a couple of weeks ago and there were not any 30 foot rock scrambles that I came across.

Wise Old Owl
05-06-2008, 10:06
the stupidest thing i've seen recently is a wheelchair access privy at old orchard shelter near mount rogers. it's in a wilderness area. no way anyone in a wheelchair can get there. ridiculous waste of money

I second that smooth move.

Brought to you by Ex-Lax!

05-06-2008, 10:10
What a load of crap you are putting out today MS.

Regarding water fountains. It doesn't take much effort to install a new one at a lower level. In fact, it costs nothing. There is probably a small cost to add the extra button. If they need a new one, they may have a small extra cost to lower it (cosmetics really). That you have to bend a little further is a very small inconvience and often there's more than one.

Walking the extra distance in the parking lot. Wake up lazy America, it's no big deal. OMG, there's a total of maybe fifty feet extra to walk. The horror.

One day you may be old and less capable MS. There's a huge number of older Americans on the horizon. In addition, there is a growing number of disable veteran's too. It's not an insignificant proportion of the population.

The ADA allows people who have disabilities to continue to have productive, manageable lives. People who through an unfortunate twist of fate are saddled with the negative outcome of life: genetic flaws, diseases, accidents, etc.

Everytime this subject comes up it brings the worst out in people here.

SGT Rock
05-06-2008, 10:17
This one is already starting to go way off base. I reckon we can't just ignore a poorly worded argument. It's becoming a bone to fight over on larger issues.