Ski Area Access

Adaptive Sports Equipment

A Draft American National Standard for Adaptive Skiing Equipment has been developed. It includes general requirements for the equipment and specific requirements for the evacuation harness, retention device, braking mechanism, skid plate effectiveness, and center of mass location. To test the evacuation harness, both the loaded drop test and the static load test have been developed. Specifications for the material and the harness, as well as its attachment and instructions for use are specified.

The design and construction of retention devices is also addressed in the Standard. Strength and performance testing procedures are outlined, as well as the strength and tensioning mechanisms.

Manufacturers of adaptive equipment with lifting mechanisms are to disclose the forces required to actuate the mechanism, as well as the number of times required for the actuator to lift into a load position. The dimensions of the adaptive equipment shall be included, including the length and width of the skid plate, the loading height, and the angle of the skid plate in both skiing and loading position. Dimensional disclosures for the adaptive equipment are provided to enable better selection by adaptive skiers and programs. The effectiveness of the skid plate is tested by determining the force to pull the loaded sit ski, mono ski or bi ski forward on a 12 degree seat. The center of mass location is determined by determining how far the adaptive skier must be slid forward on the seat before it reaches its balance point.

American National Standard for Adaptive Sports Equipment 6-22-99

Sit-skis, Mono-skis and Bi-skis (SMBs)


  1. General Requirements
  2. Evacuation Harnesses
  3. Retention Devices
  4. Lifting Mechanisms
  5. SMB Dimensions
  6. Skid Plate Effectiveness
  7. Braking Mechanisms
  8. Center of Mass Location
  9. Holding Points and Pinch Points
  10. Requirements for Documentation, Labeling, and Disclosure

Normative Annex

Data Form for Testing

Informative Annex

Information Disclosure on Manufacturer's Specification Sheets

For more information, please contact

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ANSI B-77 Aerial Tramway Standards

The following is an outline of the ANSI B77.1-1999 American National Standard for Passenger Ropeways -- Aerial Tramways, Aerial Lifts, Surface Lifts, Tows and Conveyors -- Safety Requirements

ANSI B77.1-1999

Provides construction, operation and maintenance guidelines on how to meet the intent of the ADA to provide access to persons with disabilities


Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines


  1. General requirements
  2. Aerial tramways
  3. Detachable grip aerial lifts
  4. Fixed grip aerial lifts
  5. Surface lifts
  6. Tows
  7. Wire rope, strand, and chain requirements
  8. Conveyors


For sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8

x.1 Design and installation

x.2 Electrical design and installation

x.3 Operation and maintenance

Chair Height Definition

1.4 Definitions

Distance between the top surface, including padding of the chair seat, to the loading or unloading point surface

Chair Height

1.4 Definitions

Account for the longitudinal swing of the chair which lowers the height

Implied operational commitment to swing the chair back to the desired angle

Mazes and Corrals

x. Loading areas for chairlifts
Shall be approximately level
Should be as straight as possible with gradual turns

Control Points

x. Loading areas for chairlifts
At least one point shall have a minimum clearance of 36 in.

Alternative access is acceptable for existing construction

Approach Path

x. Loading areas for chairlifts

Approximately level or slightly downsloped

Loading Areas

x. Loading areas for chairlifts

Load gates, artificial surfaces and other loading aids shall be designed and installed with regards to all passengers, including adaptive

Lift Load Point

x. Loading areas for chairlifts

Loading areas shall be approximately level

"Load here" point shall be marked

Chairlift Exit Ramp

x. Unloading areas

Shall be sloped no more than 30%

Seat height shall not exceed 22 in.


x.1.1.10 Provisions for evacuation

Provisions shall be made for emergency evacuation of common passenger types

Cabins -- New Construction

x. Cabin

Minimum 32 in. width

Maximum gap 1 in.

Maximum step height 0.5 in.

Minimum clear floor space 48 x 30 in.

Existing Aerial Passenger Tram -- Recommendations

Special carriers can be provided

Maximum 10 min. wait for carrier

Cabins -- Existing Construction

x. Cabin

Where it is not operationally or structurally practical to meet these requirements, platform devices, vehicle devices, system devices, or bridge plates shall be provided for independent loading

Chairlift Seat Thickness

x. Chairs

Thickness of chair seat front including padding, shall not exceed 5 in. from the top of the seating surface to the bottom of the curl

Chairlift Seat Angle

x. Chairs

Tilt back angle of the seat bottom should be a minimum of 7 deg. when loaded

Chairlift -- Ski Entanglement

x. Chairs

Provisions shall be made to keep tails of skis from passing through and being trapped in open spaces between framework safety restraints and chair seat underside

Chairlift Height

x. Additional signs for detachable chairlifts

A sign shall be posted stating the nominal loading chair height +/- 2 in.

The sign shall be posted with the riding instructions

Training of Personnel

x.3.2.1 Personnel

Procedures for loading and unloading of passengers including passengers with common adaptive equipment shall be included in the training

Plan for Evacuation

x. Evacuation

Shall include methods of evacuation to be used for the typical passenger, incapacitated passenger, common adaptive equipment, and non-ambulatory passenger

Operational Log

x.3.5.1 Operational Log

Daily inspection including loading and unloading platforms, seat height, ramps, and signs

All Passenger Types

x.3.6.1 Dexterity and ability

Shall be presumed to have sufficient skiing ability, physical dexterity, or personal assistance to negotiate and be evacuated from the aerial tramway safely

Conveyors -- Belt Width Conveyor belt length/width

Minimum conveyor belt width 22 in.

Conveyors -- Path Width Path width

A minimum clear walking surface that should be snow for skiers along both sides of the conveyor shall be 18 in. wide as a minimum measured from the exposed edge of the belt


National Ski Areas Association

Sid Roslund
ANSI B77 Committee Administrator

Peter Axelson
ANSI B77 ADA Ad Hoc Chair
Beneficial Designs, Inc.

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Programmatic Guidelines

Final Draft Adaptive Ski Program Guidelines for Operating on Public Lands

Over the past several years, draft guidelines have been developed with the support of a cost share agreement between the USDA Forest Service and Beneficial Designs, Inc. This draft document does not constitute final direction, however it represents input from the ski industry, adaptive skiers and agency officials, including representatives from the Department of Justice, the USDA Forest Service, and the Architectural Transportation Barriers Compli-ance Board (the Access Board).

1.0 Introduction

Development of Programmatic Guidelines -- Process

This document is in draft format. It has not been reviewed by the Department of Justice or the USDA Forest Service. It reflects the output of meetings which took place on 7 December 1996 and 6 December 1997 in conjunction with the Ski Spectacular at Breckenridge, Colorado. Adaptive sports equipment manufacturers, chairlift manufacturers, ski area operators, skiers with disabilities, adaptive sports program directors, and federal organizational representatives participated at these meetings. The minutes of the 7 December 1996 meeting have been reviewed by the Disability Rights section of the Department of Justice. Feedback was received that, "generally, the 12/7/96 minutes accurately summarize the programmatic obligations of ski areas under the ADA."

It is encouraged that each ski area create a written transition plan outlining how they will implement physical and programmatic guidelines for access over the next five years. The time period for implementation of programmatic guidelines for ski area access has come. Whatever is provided to the average skier needs to also be provided to the adaptive skier.

This document attempts to define the programmatic requirements of ski areas for access. Written comment is appreciated and solicited. Please provide justification, rationale and case situations that may be of benefit in shaping the scope of this document. Please cite the relevant page and line number(s) when appropriate. Comments should be submitted to: Beneficial Designs, Inc., 2240 Meridian Blvd, Suite C, Minden, NV 89423. E-mail comments can be directed to:

Providing Access is Good Business

Offering services and accessibility to people with disabilities brings in the families of those people as well. An average of 2.5 customers accompany skiers with disabilities, purchasing instruction, lift tickets, food services, and lodging. Skiers with disabilities provide posi-tive role models for other skiers.

Disability Statistics

Every year, there are:

  • 2 million traumatic brain injuries
  • 250,000 people are becoming amputees
  • 10,000 spinal cord injuries resulting in permanent impairment
  • 12,000 - 14,000 new cases of blindness
  • 150,000 babies born with birth defects

Disabled Athletes Already in Sports

  • 1 million athletes in Special Olympics
  • 2500 registered blind athletes
  • 3200 athletes from 104 countries competed in the 1996 Paralympics
  • Many more in various programs

2.0 Background Federal Accessibility Law

Federal laws covering accessibility include the ADA Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The Americans with Disabilities Act includes Titles I -- IV. The two sections that are most relevant to ski areas include Title II, which covers State and local government entities, and Title III, which covers public accommodations and programs open to the public.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to all federal programs or facilities and institutions or concessionaires receiving benefits of federal programs or facilities. These programs must comply with the Uniform Fed-eral Accessibility Standards (UFAS) which are similar to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines.

Ski areas on private land must comply with Title 3 of the ADA. The term "readily achievable" is applied to existing facilities. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) apply to all new construction.

Ski areas run by State and local entities must be physically and programmatically accessible in their entirety and must comply with Title II of the ADA.

Ski areas on Forest Service land must comply with State and local regulations. They must comply with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and they must be physically and programmatically accessible in their entirety.

Undue Hardship

This applies under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The resources of an entity in its entirety are considered in a discrimination claim. The courts would consider the ski area's history as an accessible institution, both physically and programmatically.

3.0 Guidelines

3.1 Skier Code

The Skier Responsibility Code is to be applied to skiers with and without disabilities without discrimination as follows:

    Stay in control.

    People ahead have the right of way.

    Stop only when visible from above without obstructing the trail.

    Look uphill and yield to other skiers.

    Use devices to prevent runaway equipment.

    Observe all posted signs and warnings.

    The skier must know how to load, ride, and unload the lift safely.

Rationale: Skiers with disabilities must comply with the skier code just like any other skier. If an adaptive skier is not capable of staying in control on the hill, the ski area has a right to pull their lift ticket and remove them from the mountain. Similarly if the skier does not have the capability to load and unload the lift safely, they can be removed from the mountain as well.

Ski Slope Access

If a skier needs a guide, personal assistant or interpreter to negotiate the lift, to ski in control, or to meet the conditions of the Skier Safety Code, they must be allowed to ski at the ski area.

Rationale: An adaptive skier may use a guide, personal assistant or interpreter for purposes of skiing in control, and this shall be considered acceptable.

Lift Access

An adaptive skier has the right to use a guide, personal assistant, or interpreter for purposes of safely loading and unloading from the lift. In this case, the guide, personal assistant or interpreter is a component of that adaptive skier's equipment.

3.2 Performance Requirements

A ski area is not allowed to require a competency exam for either skiing or riding the lift.

Rationale: This would be considered discrimination since all skiers are not required to pass a competency exam.

Special Requirements

A ski area is not allowed to require skiers with a disability to fasten themselves to the lift when skiing independently.

Note: Ski school instruction policies with regard to adaptive skiers have a right to vary on this issue.

Rationale: Since the instructor is often assuming more responsibility for the skier in this situation, the instructors method for insuring that the adaptive skier can load, ride and un-load the lift safely might be to use a tether line or safety retention strap.

3.3 Rental

Rental of Adaptive Equipment

Standardized adaptive equipment shall be available for rent with advance notice at a reasonable cost. Advance notice might be on the order of 48 hours to one week (168 hours). Standardized adaptive equipment would include, at a minimum, one of each of the following items: mono ski, sit or bi ski, out-riggers, ski tip stabilizer, and a pair of blind bibs.

Suggested Ways of Providing Standardized Adaptive Rental Equipment

    Ski shops at the host area could own and rent the adaptive equipment.

    An adaptive program at the host ski area could own and rent the adaptive equipment.

    An adaptive program at a nearby ski area is contracted to provide adaptive equipment at the host ski area.

    An adaptive equipment manufacturer rents or leases equipment to the host ski area with 48 to 168 hours notice.

Standardized Rental Equipment Insurance Issues

It has been reported that some insurance carriers currently require instruction with adaptive equipment rentals. Some ski areas own the adaptive equipment used by the adaptive program to enable insurance coverage for rental.

Note: Insurance carriers providing coverage for rental of standard alpine ski equipment should also provide coverage for rental of adaptive alpine ski equipment.

3.4 Instruction

Instruction must be available at all levels for adaptive skiers. A specific adaptive program is not required. Advance notice can be required for all levels of adaptive instruction (48 to 168 hours).

Existing PSIA Certified instructors can take a one to two day PSIA Adaptive Clinic in a specific discipline to obtain the skills needed to provide Level 1 through 3 training to adaptive skiers. PSIA certified adaptive instructors:

  • meet the PSIA ski skill requirements
  • have the required ATS knowledge
  • have the required technical knowledge
  • have the required teaching skills
  • have knowledge about disabilities
  • have the knowledge to set up adaptive equipment

There is an Adaptive division in each of the nine PSIA regions. Each provides education, training, certification. There is also a national adaptive committee meeting every June. PSIA has created a PSIA adaptive training manual. The PSIA Adaptive Chairperson is Gwen Allard, PSIA Eastern. She can be reached at (518) 452-1166.

Instruction for Visually Impaired Skiers

The instructor is ideally the guide for the visually impaired skier. The ski area shall provide a guide for an adaptive lesson at any level. If visually impaired skiers bring their own guide at their own expense, there shall be no lesson or lift charges for the guide.

Instruction for Hearing Impaired Skiers

Ideally, the instructor should be the interpreter for the hearing impaired adaptive skier. The ski area shall provide an interpreter for instruction at any level. If hearing impaired skiers bring their own interpreter at their own expense, there shall be no lesson or lift charges for the interpreter.

Instruction for Sit, Mono and Bi Skiers

Ideally, the instructor generally provides personal assistance needed by the adaptive skier. The ski area shall provide a personal assistant if needed for a lesson at any level. If mobility impaired skiers bring a personal assistant at their own expense, there shall be no lesson or lift charges for the assistant.

Lesson Rates

An adaptive skier should be able to request and pay for a lesson at a group rate, even though the ski area chooses to provide the lesson as a private.

For example, a beginning monoskier would fundamentally alter the structure of a group lesson. It would be advantageous for the ski area to offer private instruction for the monoskier at a group rate until the monoskier reaches level 4. At level 4, the monoskier can be integrated into a group lesson.

Group Lesson Policies

If the ski area has a group lesson policy applying to all skiers that when a limited number of students show up, the length of the lesson is reduced, then this policy could be applied to the adaptive skier lesson as well.

Mainstreaming into Instruction

Mainstreaming an adaptive skier into a level 1 through 3 lesson would fundamentally alter the lesson. However, instruction must be available for level 1 through 3 skiers with disabilities. At level 4 and above, an adaptive skier can be mainstreamed into a group lesson.

If a skier is a level 4 or above skier, he/she may request to be integrated into a group lesson. The ski area would still be required to provide a guide, assistant or interpreter. However, if the adaptive skier has a guide, assistant, or interpreter, he/she would be accommodated in the lesson with no extra lesson or lift fees for the guide, assistant or interpreter.

If the ski area chose to mainstream level 4 and above skiers with guides, assistants, or interpreters into mainstream instruction, they may do so.

Restrictions on Lesson Accommodation

For adaptive skiers using sit skis, mono skis, and bi skis, a weight limit may be set at 225 lbs., including the equipment.

Instruction using Common Types of Adaptive Equipment

Instruction for using common types of adaptive equipment shall be provided.

3.5 Guides, Assistance and Inter-preters

Visually impaired skiers use guides, mobility impaired skiers use personal assistants, and hearing impaired skiers use interpreters.

Need for Personal Assistant

Availability of personal assistants for a fee to adaptive skiers is encouraged at ski areas. Availability should be provided at a reasonable cost to adaptive skiers with advanced notice (48 to 168 hours).

Determining the need for a personal assistant is based on the person's function or lack of function.

The function capability of adaptive skiers varies from skier to skier. Not all adaptive skiers can ski independently even though they may be advanced level skiers. The ability to ski independently is determined by a number of factors, including:

    the skier's ability to load on or off the lift,

    the skier's ability to maintain position on the chairlift.

    the skier's ability to get into and out of his/her adaptive equipment

    the skier's ability to adjust his/her equipment

    the skier's ability to right him/herself from a fall

Availability of Guides for Visually Impaired Skiers

Provision of guides for skiers with visual impairments is encouraged.

Note: Guides should be available with advance notice at a reasonable cost. The price for a private lesson is not a reasonable cost. The price for a group lesson might be considered a reasonable cost. Advance notice might be on the order of 48 to 168 hours.

For skiers who need assistance in the form of a guide, assistant, or interpreter, that assistance is considered an essential part of the adaptive skier's ability to function effectively and safely in the ski area environment. The guide, assistant, or interpreter is essentially an extension of the skier's adaptive equipment.

3.6 Discounts

A discount is not required for skiers with a disability. An adaptive skier's guide, personal assistant, or interpreter shall be able to ski free. If discounts are provided, requirement of proof of disability is allowed.

Special Discounts

If a discount is provided, the ski area may require proof of qualification for that discount.

Proof of Disability

A "handicapped" parking placard, a driver's license noting restrictions, a Golden Access Passport (issued by the Department of the Interior for accessing National Parks), or a physician's statement regarding the status of disability are forms of ID that are often used to identify a person with a disability. Disability is defined within the Americans with Disabilities Act as a loss of one or more basic functions, or a condition that substantially impairs a major life function.

3.7 Ski Storage

If provided, ski storage should be available for adaptive skiers to store their adaptive equipment or wheelchairs while they are skiing.

3.8 Day Care

Children with disabilities must be accepted unless they would fundamentally alter the nature of the program.

Note: A document entitled "Commonly Asked Questions about Child Care Centers and the ADA." is available from the Department of Justice at the following address:

Disability Rights Section
P. O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738
(202) 616-2314 (voice/TDD)
(202) 307-1198 (fax)

3.9 Food Services

The ski area is not required to provide for special diets.

3.10 Transportation

When provided to other skiers, accessible transportation shall be provided for all Title II and 504 entities. Provision of parking to elimi-nate the need for shuttle access is an acceptable solution in many cases.

Note: All other entities purchasing vehicles should contact the U.S. Department of Transportation at (202) 366-1656 for further information on how the ADA transportation requirements apply.

3.11 Lodging/Accommodations

If owned by the ski area, access shall be provided in compliance with ADAAG or UFAS requirements for places of public accommodation for Title II and Section 504 entities.

3.12 Training

For Title II and Section 504 entities, ski areas are required to integrate training pertaining to adaptive skiers within all other training.

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ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Recreation Areas: Ski Facilities

For more information about Accessibility Guidelines, go to the Access Board's web site at

Snow Facility Accessibility

Recreation Access Advisory Committee Recommendations (separate from ANSI B77)

All built structures, indoor and out, should comply with ADAAG, including, but not limited to: cafeteria and dining areas, retail areas, locker rooms, automated teller machines, interior and exterior ramps, multiple and single use restrooms, elevators, parking areas, passenger loading zones, curb ramps, walkways, and exterior stairways.

Parking -- ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) 4.6.1 - 4.6.6

A maximum distance of 300 feet to the base area facility should exist. The parking surface should be a maximum of 3% slope in all directions. The surface should be firm and stable, and may be covered with snow.

Public Transportation

Specifications for accessible transportation are already contained within ADA legislation, however the provision to carry adaptive ski equipment has been added to Snow Facility Access Recommendations.

Drop-off Locations

Should be as close as possible to the entrance of the base area facility, with a maximum distance of 100 feet. An access route should exist linking the parking to the base area facility, the drop-off area to the base area facility, the base area facility to the staging area, and from the staging area to the on-mountain facility. Access routes should meet the requirements of Outdoor Recreation Access routes with firm and stable surfaces, which may be structural and/or snow. Due to the snow environment, they may not necessarily be slip resistant.

Base Area Facilities

Must comply with ADAAG, including bathrooms, showers, ski storage, shops, locker and changing areas, day care facilities, cafeterias, restaurants, ski school, ski repair, ski patrol, first aid, ticket windows, and map and information areas.

On Mountain Facilities

Must comply with ADAAG. Common adaptive equipment must be available, including wheelchairs and crutches, to enable adaptive skiers to utilize on-mountain facilities. A call button or phone access should be provided to enable the skier to contact the personnel within the on-mountain facility.

Ski Storage Area

Shall accommodate sit-skis, mono-skis, bi-skis, artificial legs, wheelchairs, and other adaptive equipment.

Skier Staging Area

A level area for putting on or removing adaptive ski equipment shall be provided. This staging area shall be adjacent to the base or on-mountain facility a maximum of 300 feet away. It shall be a minimum of 8 by 20 feet, with a maximum of 3-1/2% cross slope. It shall be as level as possible, with a maximum of 3-1/2% slope in any direction. There shall be a snow access route between the staging area and the lift facility serving the easiest ski trails. It shall be designed to be maintainable with snow grooming equipment. If the lift is below the base area facility, it is acceptable to provide an easier ski trail for access.

When the lift is on level terrain or uphill, it shall be a maximum of 600 feet from the skier staging area, with a 5% maximum grade and a level landing at the 300 feet interval. The cross slope shall be a maximum of 3-1/2%, with a firm and stable sub-surface. The width shall be a minimum of 8 feet.

Rest Points

A seat or chair shall be provided adjacent to the corral area for persons with endurance limitation.

Communication Devices

Shall be provided for persons with hearing impairments. Signage shall be in compliance with ADAAG.

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Minden, NV 89423-8628
775.783.8822 ph
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