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Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails



ABA—Architectural Barriers Act

ABAAS—Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards

Access Board—Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board

ADA—Americans with Disabilities Act

ADAAG—Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines

ANSI—American National Standards Institute

ATV—All-terrain vehicle

BEIG—Built Environment Image Guide

CFR—Code of Federal Regulations

DOD—U.S. Department of Defense

FHWA—U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

FSORAG—Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines

FSTAG—Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines

GFA—General Forest Area

GSA—U.S. General Services Administration

HUD—U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

IBC—International Building Code

ISA—International Symbol of Accessibility

ITDS—Interagency Trail Data Standards

MUTCD—Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices

OHV—Off-highway vehicle

ORAR—Outdoor Recreation Access Route

RHRIBS—Recreation & Heritage Resources Integrated Business Systems

ROS—Recreation Opportunity Spectrum

RRAC—Regional Recreation Accessibility Coordinator

RV—Recreational Vehicle


UFAS—Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards

USDA—U.S. Department of Agriculture

USPS— U.S. Postal Service

AGORT Definitions

Accessibility Evaluation Survey—Comparing each portion of a structure to the accessibility standards and recording compliance and deficiencies.

Accessible—In compliance with the accessibility guidelines at the time the facility or other constructed feature was built or altered.

Accessible Facilities—Facilities that comply with the accessibility guidelines.

Alteration of a Trail—A change in the original purpose, intent, or function for which the trail was designed.

Alteration of a recreation site, building, or facility—A change to a portion of a recreation site, building, or facility that is addressed by the accessibility guidelines and that affects the usability of the site, building, or facility.

Conditions for Departure (from the accessibility guidelines)—Specific circumstances found in natural environments that may make it difficult to comply with the accessibility guidelines.

Construction—Building a new trail, recreation site, or facility where there was none before.

Disability—A medically definable condition that causes a limitation in one or more major life activities such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, thinking, and so forth.

Feasible—Can be accomplished with a reasonable amount of effort or with customary practices.

Firm and Stable Surface—A surface that is not noticeably distorted or compressed and that doesn't shift during the passage of a device that simulates a person using a wheelchair.

General Forest Area (GFA)—For purposes of the Forest Service guidelines, GFAs are all National Forest System lands available for recreational use, other than wilderness areas, where the Forest Service recreation site development scale is 2 or less. Development scale 0 recreation sites do not contain any constructed features, while constructed features in development scale 1 and 2 recreation sites are primarily for resource protection rather than visitor comfort and convenience.

Grab Bar—A bar attached to a wall to provide a handgrip for steadying oneself or to assist in transferring across short distances.

Guardrail—A railing designed to protect people from accidentally falling off an edge where the immediate dropoff is over 30 inches.

Handrail—A narrow railing to be grasped with the hand for support.

Interagency Trail Data Standards (ITDS)—National Trail Data Standards agreed to by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.

Limiting Factor—An extreme, uncorrectable environmental barrier that makes the trail beyond the barrier unreachable for many people with mobility limitations.

Maintenance—Routine or periodic repair of existing trails, recreation sites, or facilities. Maintenance doesn't change the original purpose, intent, or function for which the facility was designed.

Pit Toilet—A simple toilet provided in a general forest area with waste disposed directly into the ground or that relies on moldering or composting.

Program Accessibility—Providing all people, including people with disabilities, the opportunity to participate in a program—an activity in which someone may participate or the reason someone visits an area.

Reconstruction—This term is not used in Federal accessibility guidelines or the FSORAG and FSTAG, even though it is used frequently by folks who work in recreation and trails. For the purposes of the FSORAG and FSTAG, actions are categorized as construction, alteration, or maintenance.

Recreation Site—A discrete area on a National Forest that provides recreation opportunities, receives use, and requires a management investment to operate and/or maintain to standard.

Recreation Site Development Scale—A six level development scale describing Forest Service recreation site development levels. Definitions of each level are available at

Scoping—The term used for the process of figuring out when, how much, and where the guidelines apply.

Setting—The term used to describe the natural surroundings of a trail or recreation area.

Slope Ratio—A ratio of vertical distance to horizontal distance, or "rise" to "run."

Technical Provisions—Specific physical characteristics that are required to make the built environment accessible, as identified in the accessibility guidelines.

Trail Classes—Broadly characterize and group trails by desired management characteristics and level of development, while taking into account user preferences, the recreation setting, protection of sensitive resources, and other factors. See the Interagency Trail Data Standards.

Trail Designed Use—The intended use that controls the geometric design of a trail and determines the level to which it should be maintained. See the Interagency Trail Data Standards.

Trail Managed Use—Any mode of travel that is actively managed and appropriate for a specific trail or area. See the Interagency Trail Data Standards.

Trailhead—A site designed and developed by the Forest Service or other government agency, a trail association, trail maintaining club, or other cooperators to provide a staging area for trail use.

Transition Plan—Identifies the changes needed to make a facility accessible and the timeline for completing the changes.

Universal Design—Programs and facilities designed to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without separate or segregated access for people with disabilities.

Warming Hut—A temporary space or partially enclosed space used briefly for protection from the weather.


7 CFR 15 is the 1994 USDA implementation guideline for Section 504 that prescribes the requirements for ensuring access to programs.

Access Board

Accessibility Guidebook for Outfitters/Guides Operating on Public Lands

Accessibility Guidebook for Ski Areas Operating on Public Lands

Accessible Exterior Surfaces Technical Article

Accessible Handpump

ADAAG Accessibility Checklist for Buildings and Facilities

American Trails

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Americans with Disabilities Act/Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines

Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)

Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard (ABAAS)

Backcountry Sanitation Manual

Beneficial Designs

Built Environment Image Guide (BEIG)

Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access

Facilities Toolbox

Federal Highway Administration/USDA Forest Service recreational trail publications and videos

Forest Service recreation opportunities

Forest Service National Trail Specifications

Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines (FSORAG)

Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines (FSTAG)

Forest Service Trail Design Parameters


Interagency Trail Data Standards and (also in the FSTAG:

International Building Code (IBC)

Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines

Recreation & Heritage Resources Integrated Business Systems (RHRIBS, formerly Meaningful Measures)

Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS)

Regional Recreation Accessibility Coordinators (RRAC)

Region/Station Facilities Program Leaders

Rehabilitation Act Section 504

Soil Stabilizers on Universally Accessible Trails 1202 and

Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook 2825P and

Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards Accessibility Checklist

Universal Design Forest Service Policy, Forest Service Manual Section 2330.5

Universal Trail Assessment Process

Wetland Trail Design and Construction 2833 and

Wilderness Access Decision Tool

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