7 Ways Public Parks Must Be Accessible

A key requirement of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is that public facilities must remove barriers to access.

Unfortunately, many public parks continue to discriminate against persons with disabilities.

1. Ramps should be provided. Under the ADA, places of public accommodation must generally provide a ramp or elevator whenever a step or set of steps is a barrier to access.

2. Restrooms should be accessible. At each group of restrooms, at least one stall shall be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Additionally, the pipes under the sink should be insulated, grab bars must be provided, and an accessible route shall be available.

3. Parking lots should contain accessible parking spaces. In order to visit a public park, one must be able to park and exist their vehicle. Therefore, the ADA requires that a certain, reasonable percentage of parking spaces must be accessible. Failure to comply with this requirement may constitutes discrimination.

4. Accessible routes should not be cracked and broken. Public parks must ensure that their routes are accessible for persons who use mobility aides. This usually requires the provision of a firm and stable accessible route. Sidewalks that are cracked or broken are usually not sufficient.

5. A percentage of the picnic tables should be accessible. According to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, 5% of dining spaces must be accessible. This requirement is no different for picnic tables. If less than 5% of the picnic tables are accessible, this likely constitutes an ADA violation.

6. Accessible routes must be provided. Under the ADA, each unique element must generally be located along an accessible route. Unfortunately, many public parks include unique elements along difficult to access or navigate routes. Failure to accommodate patrons with disabilities constitutes discrimination.

7. Weeds are no excuse. The ADA requires that public facilities must maintain their facility in an accessible condition. Therefore, even if an accessible curb ramp is provided, the public entity cannot allow the curb ramp to fall into a state of disrepair. A curb ramp that is covered with weeds may be barrier to access and an ADA violation.

There are many other ways public parks must be accessible. If you believe you have experienced discrimination at a public park, should speak with an attorney about your legal rights.


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