Missoula Technology and Development Center Facilities Toolbox: Accessibility Tools
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What is program accessibility?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in all federally conducted and federally assisted programs and activities. Such access is to be provided in the most integrated setting, with each person participating as independently as possible.

Photo o a deck built on a scenic waterway

A "program" can be defined as the reason a person visits an area and may include:

  • Camping in a campground

  • Viewing the scene at a scenic overlook

  • Swimming at a beach

  • Enjoying solitude in the wilderness

  • Gathering information at a visitor’s center

  • Learning about an area on an interpretive trail

7 CFR 15e provides specific requirements for ensuring access to programs. If a program, such as an exhibit in a visitors’ information center, general forest information provided at an administrative office, or a campfire program in an amphitheater, is provided inside a structure, that facility should be accessible. Workplaces must be accessible, or potential employees with disabilities would be excluded from the "program," which in this case means employment.

If the facility is not yet accessible, the program must be temporarily provided in another manner. Any alternative program must integrate all customers and must not be a separate, segregated program just for persons with disabilities. For example, if a program has been held in an amphitheater that is not accessible, it should be conducted at an accessible location until the amphitheater is accessible, so that all can participate together in the evening program.


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