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Creating the Best Facilities for Accessible Winter Resorts

Accessible winter resorts and activities are nothing new, but they are lacking in number.

When you’re designing, building, or renovating a winter resort, don’t forget to use Universal Design principles so that individuals of all abilities can access the property. Universal Design promotes inclusion and safety when every person can enjoy the facility! Keep the following ideas in mind when looking to create accessible spaces for winter vacation spots.

snow lodge with stairs and ramp at front entrance

Accessible Entrances  

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), every individual should have the ability to "arrive on-site, approach the building, and enter as freely as everyone else." The standard for this is that 60% of public entrances in newly constructed (built after 2010) facilities are required to be accessible. Existing facilities are required to have 50% of public entrances accessible. You must also factor in that there needs to be the same number of accessible exits as there are entrances.

Here is a quick checklist to ensure that your entrances meet ADA standards:

  1. If there are stairs leading to the main entrance, there should be a ramp or a lift available for use. If there is not a ramp or lift, there must be an alternative, accessible entrance.
  2. All inaccessible entrances require signs leading to accessible entrances.
  3. Alternate accessible entrances should be able to be used independently.
  4. There must be a 32-inch clear opening for entrance doors.
  5. There must be 18 inches of clear space on the "pull side" of the door next to the handle.
  6. The threshold edge cannot be more than a quarter inch. If the edge is beveled, it can be up to 3/4-inches high.
  7. Edges must be securely installed to prevent tripping hazards.
  8. Door handles must not be higher than 48 inches and must be operable with a closed fist.
  9. Excessive force must not be required to open doors.
  10. Doors with closers should take at least 3 seconds to close.

Gecko Grip up close zoom

Slip-resistant Access Solutions  

The ADA suggests slip-resistant surfaces for every entrance, but this is especially important for a winter resort. As guests ski down slopes, go tubing down hills, and adventure out in the snow, they will undoubtedly track some snow and debris back with them. To avoid injuries from shoes or wheels slipping while using a wheelchair ramp, make sure to install a ramp with a slip-resistant surface.

We recommend more specifically, a ramp with a permanent tread surface that can provide superior traction in all weather conditions. Oftentimes, when wood ramps are installed, grip tape is applied to the walking surface, however, with the amount of traffic at a winter resort, this can easily become worn down and ineffective overtime, even causing potential trip hazards when it lifts. EZ-ACCESS commercial-grade ramp systems have a patent-pending, slip-resistant tread surface that we call Gecko Grip™. The unique gripping surface features raised-ribs and deep knurling to provide cross-directional traction when moving up and down the ramp. You’ll find details of this tread design on each of our commercial ramp solution pages on our website.

plowed road and sidewalk

Clear Pathways

After the access solution is installed, it’s only truly accessible when the facilities or maintenance team keeps the path clear. This means nothing can be on the ramp itself, and nothing can obstruct the handrails. To keep an outdoor ramp clear in high snowfall climates, follow these guidelines:

  1. Track the weather to be proactive
  2. Scoop snow with a plastic shovel
  3. Use a snow broom to clear ridges on surfaces
  4. Lay out the right ice melt

You can read the details for each of these guidelines on our blog from last month: How to Maintain a High Traffic Ramp in the Winter.

Once you put a plan in place to keep the outdoor access solutions clear, you can think about the indoor pathways. The hallways and door thresholds should have minimal bumps when transitioning to different surface areas and rooms. If you’re working with a pre-existing structure that has uneven transitions in these areas, an easy solution is to install a TRANSITIONS® entry ramp or mat for door threshold accessibility.

Accessible bathrooms sign on wall

Accessible Rooms and Bathrooms

Every winter resort should have a few rooms with bathrooms that are accessible for individuals who use assistive mobility devices. If you’re designing a building from scratch, the best option is to include barrier-free showers and wide doorways. If an existing building does not have barrier-free or “roll-in” showers, there are several businesses around the country that offer bathroom renovations for this purpose.

To be able to access the room and bathroom, make sure that the clear width for a doorway meets ADA standards. The clear width is the width of the doorway when the door is open to 90 degrees. The minimum clear width is 32 inches with a maximum of 48 inches.

Also, appliances such as towel racks and closet shelving, should have lower options that someone can reach from a seated position.

If you have questions about a current or future project, the access experts on our Customer Service team are always happy to help.

Contact our team today to talk about access solutions for your property.

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