Accessibility & Universal Design Standards

Review Design Standards General Statements before utilizing this web page.

On this page:
Building Codes & Industry Standards
Denver Service Center (DSC) Requirements
National Park Service (NPS) Requirements
Executive Orders (EOs)

Building Codes & Industry Standards


Facility & Site Designs

  • Must meet the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standards for facility and site designs and address equal opportunity for all program areas. Activities within buildings, interpretation, hiking, walking, picnicking, swimming, and camping are examples of program areas and must provide equal opportunity per Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Universal Design

  • Universally designed sites and facilities provide equal opportunity not only for persons with disabilities, but a variety of situations, such as:
    • a parent pushing a stroller
    • a child on crutches
    • a person with arthritic knees
  • Accessible and inaccessible constructed and programmatic components of a facility are indiscernible in Universal Design. This can include any of the following project considerations:
    • site arrival
    • access paths (interior and exterior)
    • functional spaces
    • furnishings
    • millwork, fixtures, and appliances
    • exhibits and media
  • The 7 Principles of Universal Design

Pedestrian Routes/Entrance

  • Accessible parking is located closest to the accessible entrance.
  • All users follow the same routes through the site and facility.
  • The primary entrances (visitor and employee) of newly constructed facilities do not have steps.
  • Provides a covered entry with the roof draining away from the entry, walk way, and entrance.
  • Provides power assisted door openers on main accessible entrances and lever or push hardware on other doors.

Interpretive Media Accessibility Requirements

Denver Service Center (DSC) Requirements


Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) for Accessibility

Visual Disabilities

National Park Service (NPS) Requirements

NPS Management Policies 2006 - The Guide to Managing the National Park System

Director's Orders (DOs)

NPS Memos


About the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and other Disability Rights Laws

  • Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968 - The ABA requires access to facilities designed, built or altered with Federal dollars or leased by Federal agencies. The law covers a wide range of facilities, including post offices, social security offices, prisons, and national parks. It also applies to non-government facilities that have received Federal funding, such as certain schools, public housing, and mass transit systems. Passed in 1968, the ABA stands as the first measure by Congress to ensure access to the built environment. Facilities that predate the law generally are not covered, but alterations or leases undertaken after the law took effect can trigger coverage.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government services, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and telecommunications. Unlike the ABA, the ADA's coverage is not tied to the presence of Federal funding. For more information, contact a regional Disability & Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTACs) or the appropriate Federal agency.
  • Fair Housing Act - As amended in 1988, prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of disability, as well as race, color, gender, and religion. It covers housing in the public and private sectors and bans discrimination in any aspect of selling or renting housing. Under the law, new multifamily housing must be able to be adapted for accessibility according to established guidelines. The law also requires reasonable exceptions to housing policies and operations so that people with disabilities are afforded equal housing opportunities.
    • Design standards to implement the Fair Housing Act are the ABAAS and ANSI A117.1 - 2003 (Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities).
    • Fair Housing Act Design Manual - A Manual to Assist Designers and Builders in Meeting the Accessibility Requirements of The Fair Housing Act
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - Ensures access to programs and activities that are federally funded. It also protects the rights of Federal employees with disabilities. Federal agencies are responsible for enforcing requirements as they apply to their own programs, services, and employment practices. The law also requires electronic and information technology procured by Federal agencies to be accessible according to standards issued by the Access Board.
  • Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines (1996) / Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508) (2000)

Executive Orders (EOs)


Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)


Last updated: June 14, 2018