The State of Disability
You may be asking the question, what is an ADA campsite? If you are one of the 61 million American adults who live with a disability that impacts major life activities, you may know about ADA campsites. Then again, reconstruction of these sites is still relatively new, and the opportunity for disabled people to actually have the ability to visit these formerly inaccessible places is unprecedented. It represents a significant change in the right direction for America and beyond, in our quest for equality and non-discrimination. The facts are, 1 in 4 Americans have a disability, 26% of the population. In 1990, when the original Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, 13.7% of the population had disabilities. With the percentage only rising as the years pass, it is in any business's best interest to become ADA compliant, especially since over one quarter of consumers (just in the United States) are disabled. The thing we all need to keep in mind, is the fact that disability can happen to anyone. Every single person is vulnerable to the possibility of becoming disabled. Your chances are 1 in 21 (approximately 20%) of having an accident where you would become disabled. That's an alarming number, if you think about it. Even back in 2008, a disabling accident occurred every second; 498 people every 10 minutes. So it's important to remember that people with disabilities, for the most part, enjoy visiting the same establishments, doing the same things, and being treated the same way as everyone else does. Equally important is to be cognizant of the fact that a disability can happen to anyone, whether you're born with it, it develops over time, or you're in an accident that results in one. No one chooses to be disabled.
That said, what would it be like to be, for instance, confined to a wheelchair and yet have a strong inner connection with nature? Or what if you used to be an outdoor sports type, but you experienced a debilitating accident and you lost a limb? What if you lost your vision, or hurt your back, or developed cancer? Had an injury on the job? What would it be like to suddenly not be able to do the "normal" things you used to do, and had to depend on others for assistance? Having to learn to adapt to a whole new world, if you suddenly had to, has got to be more difficult than most of us could even imagine. I have a great respect for those who have had to adjust their entire way of living, and done so successfully. In any case, it would be especially hard for someone who loves nature and the outdoors. That is, until recently! Now, even the outdoor activity business is adapting, and there are ADA campsites in varying degrees, in many different states, parks, and recreational facilities. These spots are still fairly few and far between, but most states have at least a few places like Oregon, Colorado and Virginia, that feature accessible campgrounds and facilities. Others are quickly learning that not having these ADA requirements can cost them much more than the reconstruction adjustments will. There are steep fines and significant risk of litigation involved if your business is not in ADA compliance. Frankly, it's just not worth it.
ADA Campsite Regulations
So is every campsite and recreation area required to comply? The short answer is yes, absolutely. Because regardless of the legalities of the issue, it will potentially bring you a significant increase in revenue, the possibility of gaining great reviews and P.R., plus it's just the right thing to do, as a business owner and as a human being. The longer, more complicated answer is that, if you really want a legal answer to that question, you need to hire a special representative or lawyer who has expertise in ADA compliance. There are a few exceptions, such as religious groups and certain non-profit organizations, but as a rule, if you have 15 or more full-time employees, you must be in ADA compliance. There are specific regulations for exactly what you need to do in your reconstruction efforts, so be sure to hire a contractor who specializes in ADA requirements, and order your signs from a place that specializes in ADA signage (like ADA Central). This will ensure that you meet the very specific guidelines. Measurements and percentages are a part of these, so trying to get by cheaper will cost you in the long run. Your alterations will pay for themselves and then some, in the not-too-distant future. After all, the disabled community has an estimated discretionary income of $200 billion dollars!
As An Example…
If you'd like some examples of specifics, let's say you're a campground with 50 regular parking spaces plus 15 more that are designated for RVs. That would mean altering your parking lot to include 3 new regular handicapped spots and 2 new RV spots that are accessible and ADA compliant. Each space must measure a minimum of 96 inches wide, marking to define the width. The maximum slope grade is 1:48 in all directions, and the surface must otherwise be relatively smooth. There needs to be an accessible aisle from the parking spot to the main building that measures 36 inches wide, and the spot must be designated by an ADA compliant sign with the international symbol of accessibility and be mounted 60 inches minimum from the ground to the bottom of the sign. All of these particulars, you'll note, are just for parking spaces. You can see why it's important to hire ADA specialists. All current, explicit regulations can be found online in a handbook or guide book entitled: 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. All new construction for businesses must be built according to these guidelines. One day, hopefully all places of business will have united in their understanding of people with disabilities, and will design their facilities in a uniform way that is functional and accessible for everyone.