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Laws & Policies

As a federal entity, the National Park Service (NPS) is required to comply with the following accessibility laws:

  • The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 requires that buildings or facilities that were designed, built, or altered with federal dollars or leased by federal agencies after August 12, 1968, be accessible. This law covers all facilities within national parks built after that date.
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by federal agencies or receiving federal financial assistance, in federal employment, and in the employment practices of federal contractors. Section 508 of this act applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Federal agencies must ensure that this technology is accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities to the extent it does not pose an “undue burden.” The NPS.gov website falls under Section 508.

The accessibility of commercial services within national parks is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Learn more about the facilities and information and communication technology standards of these laws on the US Access Board website.

The NPS sets forth its internal policies on accessibility in Director's Order #42: Accessibility for Visitors with Disabilities in National Park Service Programs and Services.

Disability History

The NPS not only works to make parks accessible to those with disabilities but also interprets disability history. The Disability History series brings attention to some of the many disability stories interwoven across more than 400 national parks and National Park Service programs. “Disability stories” refer to the array of experiences by, from, and about people with disabilities represented across our nation. People with disabilities are the largest minority in the United States, but their stories often remain untold. Explore these stories to learn more.

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    Last updated: July 23, 2020

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