Missoula Technology and Development Center Facilities Toolbox: Accessibility Tools
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What can be done to improve accessibility during routine facility maintenance?

Improved accessibility does not always mean new construction or major renovation. Maintenance and routine service present many opportunities to improve accessibility.


An accessible surface is firm and stable. Use caution with the size and depth of gravel when maintaining unpaved surfaces. Generally, smaller graded gravel with some fine material can be compacted to a firmer surface than larger graded gravel or when all gravel particles are the same size. Depending on the surfacing material, mixing in some soil stabilizer might provide an accessible surface at little cost.

Rule of thumb:
If you could ride a narrow-tired bicycle AND if you could push a chubby 3-year-old child in an "umbrella" stroller across the surface without making ruts, a person in a wheelchair can probably cross the surface.

Parking Lots

Accessible parking spaces are to be included in parking lots. See the ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines section F208.2 to determine the required number of accessible spaces for various sizes of parking lots. Even very small lots must have at least one parking space that is van accessible (with an extra-wide parking space and access aisle). On paved parking lots, designating the required accessible spaces is relatively easy when repainting the parking lot stripes, especially right after the lot has been seal-coated. Designating accessible parking spaces on gravel lots is even easier. All you need is a sign and probably some parking bumpers.

Ensure that curb cuts for ramps are located appropriately—beside, not IN the parking space.

Getting In

Building entries must be flush with the grade of the outside access route and have a beveled doorsill that is not more than one-half inch high. Sometimes it's fairly easy to add surfacing material, shim up the deck or porch boards, or use asphalt or concrete to bring the access route up to the height of the building floor.

Water Hydrants

The surface at the base of water hydrants at recreation areas must be firm and stable with a 60-inch turning radius. See the "Surfaces" rule of thumb above. You can also build a wood or concrete surface around hydrants. If you don't have funding for a major site renovation, you can repair the area around a few hydrants at a time, starting with one or a few at each campground and picnic area.

Operating Controls

When parts need replacing, think of accessibility. All controls must be operable without pinching, grasping, or twisting the wrist and with no more than 5 pounds of pressure to comply with accessibility guidelines. This guideline includes the microwave in the kitchenette, the water fountain, the light switches, and the doorbell, as well as the sink faucets. If accessible parts are available or can be ordered, it makes sense to keep some on hand for future routine replacements.

For instance, faucets with accessible handles tend to be special-order items that are more expensive than faucets available off the shelf at the local hardware store. If you have some accessible faucets on hand, it's easy to replace faucets that are not accessible with the accessible ones when the old ones fail.

Rule of thumb:
If you can operate the control with a closed fist and with less than 5 pounds of pressure, the control is accessible.
Graphic image of an accessible push button water faucet Graphic image of an accessible hand control for a water faucet Graphic image of an accessible hand control for a water faucet

Gates, Bars, and Berms

Forest Service-constructed barriers on pedestrian travel routes must have a 32-inch minimum width gap or include a route beside them that will permit passage of a wheelchair. Frequently, a little shovel or carpentry work will correct the problems.

Photo of a clear passage for foot travel around a gate
To meet accessibility guidelines, allow 32 inches of clear passage for foot travel around a gate.

Forest: Allegheny
Region: 9
Photo of a woman in a wheelchair moving through a three-post passage around a gate
This three-post passage is accessible passage around a gate is accessible.

Forest: Monongahela
Region: 9


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