The products shown in this guide are only intended to serve as examples to illustrate the accessibility guidelines, and are not intended as endorsements of the products. Other products may be available. The Access Board does not evaluate or certify products for compliance with the accessibility guidelines. Users are advised to obtain and review product specifications for compliance with the accessibility guidelines.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA requires that newly constructed and altered state and local government facilities, places of public accommodation, and commercial facilities be readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) is the standard applied to buildings and facilities. Recreational facilities, including boating facilities, are among the facilities required to comply with the ADA.
The Access Board issued accessibility guidelines for newly constructed and altered recreation facilities in 2002. The recreation facility guidelines are a supplement to ADAAG. As a supplement, they must be used in conjunction with ADAAG. References to ADAAG are mentioned throughout this summary. Once these guidelines are adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), all newly designed, constructed and altered recreation facilities covered by the ADA will be required to comply.
The recreation facility guidelines cover the following facilities and elements:
This guide is intended to help designers and operators in using the accessibility guidelines for boating facilities. These guidelines establish minimum accessibility requirements for newly designed or newly constructed and altered boating facilities. This guide is not a collection of boating facility designs. Rather, it provides specifications for elements within a boating facility to create a general level of usability for individuals with disabilities. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that individuals with disabilities are generally able to access the boating facility and use a variety of elements. Designers and operators are encouraged to exceed the guidelines where possible to provide increased accessibility and opportunities. Incorporating accessibility into the design of a boating facility should begin early in the planning process with careful consideration to accessible routes.
The recreation facility guidelines were developed with significant public participation. In 1993, the Access Board established an advisory committee of 27 members to recommend accessibility guidelines for recreation facilities. The Recreation Access Advisory Committee represented the following groups and associations:
The public was given an opportunity to comment on the recommended accessibility guidelines, and the Access Board made changes to the recommended guidelines based on the public comments. A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register in July 1999, followed by a five-month public comment period. Further input from the public was sought in July 2000 when the Access Board published a draft final rule soliciting comment. A final rule was published in September 2002.
"Whenever any barrier stands between you and the full rights and dignity of citizenship, we must work to remove it, in the name of simple decency and justice.The promise of the ADA...has enabled people with disabilities to enjoy much greater access to a wide range of affordable travel, recreational opportunities and life-enriching services.”
The recreation facility guidelines described in this guide focus on newly designed or newly constructed and altered boating facilities. Other provisions contained in ADAAG address elements commonly found at a boating facility, such as accessible vehicle parking spaces, exterior accessible routes, and toilet and bathing facilities. ADAAG addresses only the built environment (structures and grounds). The guidelines do not address operational issues of a facility. Questions regarding operational issues should be directed to the Department of Justice, 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).
Recreational boating facilities can include fixed and floating facilities. Facilities can vary in size from one boat slip (for example, at a small campground facility) to several thousand slips, and can handle boats ranging in size from small canoes to large sailboats and powerboats. Facilities may be located in the same waterfront area or even in the same site (such as a State park with a large lake) and include marinas, launching facilities, piers, and docks that are designed for recreational use.
These guidelines do not cover the design of passenger vessels or ferry docks, and do not address access on and off passenger vessels. These issues will be addressed in future rulemaking for passenger vessels.
ADAAG requires that at least one accessible route connect accessible buildings, facilities, elements, and spaces on a site. Accessible boat slips, accessible boarding piers at boat launch ramps,and other accessible spaces and elements within a boating facility must also be connected by an accessible route. The accessible route must comply with ADAAG provisions for the location, width (minimum of 36 inches), passing space,head room, surface, slope (maximum of 1:12 or 8.33%), changes in level, doors, egress, and areas of rescue assistance, unless otherwise modified by specific provisions outlined in this guide.
Gangway Slope and Rise Exceptions
The maximum rise requirements in ADAAG do not apply to gangways. As a result, no intermediate landings on the gangways are required and gangways may be any length.
The gangway slope and rise exceptions do not apply to other sloped walking surfaces that may be part of the accessible route. For example, where a non-gangway sloped walking surface greater than 1:20 (5%) is provided as part of an accessible route connecting accessible spaces of a boating facility, it must comply with ADAAG slope and rise requirements. This would include a ramp connecting a fixed pier or a float with fixed switchback ramps.
Elevators and Platform Lifts
A boat slip is the portion of a pier, main pier, finger pier, or float where a boat is berthed or moored, or used for embarking or disembarking. Where boat slips are provided, the number of boat slips required to be accessible must comply with the table shown to the right. In these guidelines, boarding piers that are not part of boat launch ramps are also classified as boat slips. For purposes of these guidelines, piers not typically thought of as providing boat slips where boats can be moored, such as a fuel pier, are also included in determining the total number of slips at the facility.
If boat slips at a facility are not identified or demarcated by length, each 40 feet of boat slip edge along the perimeter of a pier will be counted as one boat slip. For example, a new boating facility will provide a single 60-foot pier with boats moored parallel to the pier on both sides. The pier has 120 feet of boat slip edge, which equates to three boat slips. According to the table, one slip must be accessible, with clear pier space at least 40 feet long and a minimum width of 60 inches. In this case, the width of the pier is not considered when totaling the amount of boat slip edge, since it is not designed for mooring. Another new boating facility plans to provide a single pier that is 25 feet long and 3 feet wide and will allow boats to moor on both sides and on one end. The pier has 53 feet of boat slip edge, which equates to two boat slips. According to the table, one slip must be accessible, and the width of the pier must be increased to a minimum of 60 inches.
Accessible boat slips do not need to be marked and are not reserved in the same way as accessible vehicle parking spaces. For example, facilities should hold the accessible slips open for persons with disabilities until all other slips are filled. At that point, the slip may be made available for general use. For seasonal slip holders, accessible slips should be held until the expiration period for slip contracts has expired. Marina operators may choose to make information regarding accessible boat slips available in promotional material or a facility guide. Ensuring that accessible slips are available to persons with disabilities is an operational issue and operators should contact the Department of Justice for further information.
Cleats and other boat securement devices at accessible slips do not have to comply with ADAAG reach range requirements. However, clear space must be provided at each securement device and each device must be located on an accessible route. This reach range exception does not apply to other controls and operating mechanisms such as hose bibbs, water supply hoses, outlets for electrical power, telephones, or cable TV.
A boarding pier (sometimes called a courtesy pier or a launch dock) is the part of a pier where a boat is temporarily moored for embarking and disembarking. A boat launch ramp is a sloped surface designed for launching and retrieving trailered boats and other watercraft to and from a body of water. The provisions for boarding piers cover only those that are associated with boat launch ramps. Boarding piers that are not part of a boat launch ramp are classified as “boat slips” for purposes of these guidelines.
If boarding piers at boat launch ramps are provided, at least 5 percent but not less than one, must comply with these guidelines and be served by an accessible route. The exceptions for gangways, previously described above, may be applied to boarding piers (see Accessible Routes).
In addition, gangways connecting floating boarding piers may exceed the maximum slope specified in the guidelines, if the total length of the gangway is at least 30 feet.
ADAAG ramp requirements do not apply to the portion of the accessible route serving a floating boarding pier or skid pier if it is located within a boat launch ramp. For example, a facility provides a chain of floats on a launch ramp to be used as an accessible boarding pier. At high water, the entire chain is floating and a transition plate connects the first float to the surface of the launch ramp.As the water level decreases, segments of the chain rest on the launch ramp surface, matching the slope of the launch ramp. An accessible route must serve the last float because it would function as the boarding pier at the lowest water level, before it possibly grounded out. Because the entire chain also functions as a boarding pier, it must comply with all ADAAG provisions, including the 60-inch minimum clear pier width provision.
Another facility provides a non-floating boarding pier that is supported by piles and divides a launch area into two launch ramps. An accessible route must connect the boarding pier with other accessible buildings, facilities, elements and spaces on the site. Although the boarding pier is located within a launch ramp, because the pier is not a floating pier or a skid pier, no exceptions apply. To comply with ADAAG, the accessible route could run down between the two launch ramps. Or, the fixed boarding pier could be relocated to the side of one of the launch ramps, which would allow the slope of the launch ramps to remain unchanged since the accessible route would run outside the launch ramps.
Boarding Pier Clearances
Launch Ramps Without Boarding Piers
Technical assistance on the guidelines for boating facilities is available from the Access Board at (800)-872-2253 (voice), (800)-993-2822 (TTY) or firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
This information has been developed and reviewed in accordance with the Access Board’s information quality guidelines.