Over the past decade, there have been some much needed changes and updates applied to major legislation here in North America regarding accessibility for people with disabilities. These changes have paved the way for facilities to create environments that go well beyond simply retrofitting a physical location with wheelchair access.
These changes take into account those living with disabilities by allowing all participants and spectators equal access to our sports equipment and infrastructure, providing a safe and inclusive environment for all.
Ramps, Landings Stairs and Guard Rails
These are obvious areas of concentration when converting an existing bleacher system to meet current requirements or designing a new bleacher system. Ramps are designed to provide adequate space and access to those in wheelchairs or scooters and should be equipped with a slip-resistant coating and provide ample protection along edges.
Landings are designed to coincide with the width and size of the ramps leading up to them. Sightlines are one of the chief concerns when designing bleacher landings. When designing landings, sightlines are a primary consideration as all landings made for wheelchairs must be higher than those used by non-wheelchair spectators but must not obstruct the view of anyone in the bleachers.
Those with prosthetic limbs or who require the assistance of a cane are taken into consideration when designing stairways leading up to bleacher seating. All stairs must include a non-slip surface and must be equipped with properly installed handrails on each side of the stairway.
The use of colour contrasts on flooring can immediately warn those with visual impairments of potential obstructions and structures as they approach them. Visual cues leading up to stairways and platform edges can guide and alert the visually impaired to important upcoming changes in the structure of the bleachers.
This article is by no means a comprehensive guide to federal, provincial, state or municipal regulations in your area. Always be sure to contact the proper governing body when beginning to update or install an accessible bleacher system.
For more information on Ontario and the United States guidelines, please see the links below:
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act: http://www.aoda.ca/
The Americans with Disabilities Act: http://www.ada.gov/