Uniform Standards for Accessible Fitness Equipment
D3: Development of Uniform Standards for Accessible Fitness Equipment
People with disabilities have a history of increased health risks as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. This sedentary lifestyle is enforced by the limited access that is provided to mainstream fitness equipment in public fitness facilities. Physical activities increase the health and well-being of all individuals, including those with any type of disability.
Persons with disabilities want and need access to exercise equipment in public facilities and hotels. However, there are many challenges with current equipment. Manufacturers of exercise equipment have notoriously overlooked or ignored the need for designing and manufacturing strength and cardiovascular fitness equipment that can be effectively used by people with disabilities.
In July 2010 President Obama announced that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act would be amended to cover the use of exercise equipment in health clubs, hotel fitness centers, public recreation centers, and schools. In March 2012 the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated an accessible travel path and footprint to and around fitness equipment in public facilities. With growing social and political pressure to provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities in health/fitness facilities, standards that identify critical elements of universal design for fitness equipment are becoming increasingly important.
The major aim of this project is to finalize a set of standards for strength and cardiovascular fitness equipment that will be supported by the leading standards authority in the U.S. through ASTM.
The project team will continue to develop and promote the draft ASTM Standard Specification and Test Method for Evaluating the Universal Design of Fitness Equipment (UDFE) through the ASTM F08.30 Fitness Products Committee. The project team is working closely with the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (UK) to finalize the general sections and incorporate equipment-specific UDFE criteria into published ASTM Fitness Product Standards Documents. Manufacturer evaluations of the draft ASTM UDFE Standards will be conducted as well as independent testing of strength and cardiovascular fitness equipment in order to evaluate the validity and reliability of the draft ASTM UDFE Standards. Consumer usability testing of fitness equipment meeting ASTM UDFE Standards will be conducted in order to evaluate how well the needs of people with disabilities are being met by the standards.
Investigating the Perceptions of Existing and Newly Created Accessibility Symbols
Currently there is no existing universal design/inclusive fitness (UD/IF) symbol to identify UD/IF equipment. A pilot study was conducted and a full IRB approved study has been initiated. 9 different symbols were designed and used as part of this study. The 12-page survey that is mixed methods in design; questions gather demographic information, rankings of the 9 symbols, and qualitative data regarding survey choices. Study is currently ongoing.
The RESNA Standards Committee on Inclusive Fitness was founded in Jun 2012 to develop a facility and equipment certification process upon compliance with applicable accessibility guidelines and standards.
RESNA-IF will develop a RESNA- approved Inclusive Fitness Facility and certification stamp, developed for fitness equipment that meets the UDFE Standards, that will convey accessibility information to the users. In order to meet or pass a standard, all criteria within the standard must be met according to the detailed test methods. The RESNA-IF will follow the general steps that apply to all RESNA standards development committees. A certification process for manufacturers using the ASTM UDFE Standards will be developed. Manufacturers will receive a product label icon (stamp) from RESNA when the product meets the ASTM UDFE Standards.
A certification process will also be developed for fitness facilities using the applicable guidelines and standards available for access for people with disabilities. RESNA-IF will set minimum requirements for the number of UDFE-compliant pieces required to be considered an accessible facility, as well as set requirements for staff training in disability. RESNA-IF will develop a certification process to verify that the fitness facility meets: 1) The facility layout standards being developed through NSF International, 2) The minimum number of Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainers that was recommended by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)/National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), and other applicable building requirements and equipment footprints as specified in the ADAAG. Fitness facilities will receive a RESNA- approved certificate when the facility meets all applicable guidelines and standards.
Results of all testing will be used to revise the draft ASTM UDFE Standards as necessary.
The intent of this specification is to assure that the fitness product being designed for inclusive use by individuals with and without functional limitations or impairments remains functional and safe when the equipment is operated according to the manufacturer’s operational instructions.