DOJ Requires Public Fitness Facilities to Provide Accessible Equipment

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The intent of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was to facilitate access for people with disabilities to public facilities, including participation in activities within the building structure. The new DOJ (Department of Justice) guidelines recently confirmed this intent by requiring public fitness facilities to provide accessible fitness equipment. Exercise is important and provides many of the same benefits for people with and without disabilities. Increase in activity level decreases secondary conditions and health costs often associated with disability. Affording people with disabilities the opportunity to exercise in public facilities, rather than specialized medical therapy settings, increases the social opportunity to interact with family members and friends.

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Beneficial Designs responded to the DOJ’s call for comments on this proposed ruling for fitness equipment criteria back in January 2011. Minimum scoping requirements and general specifications were submitted based on the draft Universal Design of Fitness Equipment work, Work Item 34535: Standard Specification for Universal Design of Fitness Equipment for Inclusive Use by Persons with Functional Limitations. Individuals with disabilities have struggled to use exercise equipment in public health clubs, fitness centers, recreation centers, etc. Now public fitness facilities will be required to provide equipment, aerobic and strength, that meets the needs of people with disabilities.