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ADA allows everyone to access some of our greatest natural assets

Roughly 20% of all Americans have a disability. While many are elderly citizens experiencing the effects of the natural aging process, others have disabilities that they’d prefer to keep private. People with disabilities come in all ages and with a variety of mindsets, but that doesn’t mean they deserve any less than able-bodied Americans when it comes to experiencing the great outdoors.

Luckily, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) civil rights law protects against discrimination based on any disability, requiring places of public accommodation to be accessible and usable by individuals with a disability.

As an architecture, engineering, and construction consulting firm, Marx|Okubo works regularly with ADA requirements. While accessibility functionality may be more apparent in urban settings and facilities, such as office buildings for example, each summer, we are reminded of a place where ADA requirements can provide a critical boost in quality of life: recreational facilities.

One particular segment that our accessibility teams have extensive experience in is boating and marine facilities. It may sound like a niche outdoor arena, but boating amenities such as docks give the elderly and others with disabilities access to some of the nation’s greatest treasures, from pristine mountain lakes to vast coastal oceans.

For example, the rise and fall of tides and the listing of a ship can prove difficult to navigate with mobility impairments or disabilities. Therefore the ADA requires that boating operations provide at least one accessible route to boat slips, boarding piers, launch ramps, etc.

Marinas are required to have a sufficient amount of accessible slips that range in size and are disbursed around each facility. Gangway slopes are allowed to exceed the maximum running slope of 8.33%, but must still maintain the required 2% cross slope and handrails.

As recreational businesses and facilities learn how to best adhere to ADA requirements, Marx|Okubo is honored to provide services to navigate and implement the right infrastructure and necessary upgrades.

As we age, we all would like to live independently, doing and seeing the things we enjoy outside for as long as possible. After all, everyone should be able to experience our country’s greatest assets—from a day strolling the Queen Mary or joining friends sailing out on a lake or fishing from a pier with a grandchild.

For questions about or an evaluation of ADA requirements and adherence, please contact Gary Cohn, AIA at gary_cohn@marxokubo.com.