future access to chairlifts is in jeopardy!

ski standards

ski area & equipment accessibility

ski standards

ski area & equipment accessibility

ski areas

As a result of Peter Axelson’s role on the Recreation Access Advisory Committee that drafted the Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines, he was able to organize the input of the adaptive ski community at the Hartford Ski Spectacular event that takes place every year in Breckenridge Colorado. At this meeting he drafted the initial guidelines that would eventually be adopted by the U.S. Forest Service.

Most ski areas are located on Forest Service land and operate under special use permits. Therefore, most ski areas must comply with ADA Standards and provide programs that are accessible as well.

The scope of the U.S. Forest Service Accessibility Guidelines is outlined in the 2016 revised edition of the USDA’s Accessibility Guidebook for Ski Areas Operating on Public Lands:

Ski areas operating under special-use authorization from the Forest Service are required to comply with both the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). The ADA applies because the ski areas operate as “public accommodations,” that is, they are businesses open to the public. Section 504 applies because ski areas operate under special-use permits authorized by a Federal agency, the Forest Service. Implementation guidelines for Section 504 that apply to recreation special-use permit holders are located in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 15b. By signing the special-use authorization, the ski area agrees to abide by these and all other applicable laws, regulations, and policies of the Federal Government.

ski area guidelines

To see the 2016 revised edition of the Accessibility Guidebook for Ski Areas Operating on Public Lands, as well as the 2012 edition, which includes images, please click on the buttons below.

passenger ropeways

ski lifts

For the sport of skiing to be accessible, the ski lifts that take people up the mountain must also be accessible.

As the leader of Beneficial Designs, Peter Axelson became a member of the ANSI B-77 Committee. This committee, hosted by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), writes the standard for passenger ropeways. ANSI B77.1-2017 – Passenger Ropeways – Aerial Tramways, Aerial Lifts, Surface Lifts, Tows, and Conveyors – Safety Standard is the latest published standard. As stated on the NSAA ropeway web page,

It is the responsibility of the American National Standards Accredited Committee B77 (ASC B77) to develop a system of principles, specifications, and performance objectives, which will reflect the current state of the art of passenger ropeway design, operation and maintenance, and which will be acceptable for adoption by government agencies and others.

As a member of the ANSI B-77 Committee, Peter has the responsibility to inform the committee of the accessibility requirements that must be met in order to comply with the U.S. Forest Service Guidelines. For example, Peter noted that cabin designs on gondolas must provide level entry with doors with 32 inches of clear opening width in order to provide access to the lifts.

Ski lift signage indicating loading seat height and loading speed

Throughout the Standard, features are included for accessibility. For example, the control gates must provide adequate clearance width for adaptive ski equipment to get through and load onto the lifts. Signage, as shown above, must also disclose the height of the chair lifts to enable skiers to ask for a slow or stop if they need the accommodation to load.

Securement points are to be provided on chairs so instructors can secure their sit-skiers, mono-skiers, and bi-skiers to the chair lifts. The unloading points at the chair lift must be less than a specified height as well.


For further information on the ANSI B-77 Committee, or to join or provide input, please visit the NSAA Ropeway Committee page or visit the ANSI Blog for more information on the ANSI B77.1-2017 standard.


For further information on the ANSI B-77 Committee, or to join or provide input, please visit the NSAA Ropeway Committee page or visit the ANSI Blog for more information on the ANSI B77.1-2017 standard.

adaptive sports equipment

the committee

Peter Axelson is the Secretary of the RESNA Standards Committee on Adaptive Sports Equipment (ASE), developing specifications and test methods for adaptive ski equipment. A revision of the American National Standard RESNA ASE-1 was published in 2019 that includes a new test procedure for restraint harnesses for skiers that are prone to seizures. The committee meets each December in conjunction with the Hartford Ski Spectacular.

ski equipment

The RESNA ASE-1 Adaptive Sports Equipment Volume 1: Winter Sports Equipment standard is divided into two volumes: Volume 1: Winter Sports Equipment: Section 1: Sit-Skis, Mono-skis, and Bi-Skis, and Section 2 Skier Restraint System. The standard contains the following requirements for adaptive ski equipment for skiers to enhance compatibility with chairlifts.

evacuation harness

Requirements for an evacuation harness as part of the sit-ski, mono ski, or bi-ski that be used be the ski patrol lower in upright position in the event a chairlift evacuation is required. The skier has to be maintained upright.

retention line

To keep the adaptive skier on the chairlift.

lifting mechanisms

To assist the adaptive skier or instructor getting the skier into a loading position to get on and off the chairlift.

SMB dimensions

The loading height that adaptive equipment raises up to load on a chair must be disclosed. All other dimensional information for the equipment is disclosed so the skier can select a sit-ski, mono-ski, or bi-ski that will fit them.

skid plate effectiveness

To ensure the adaptive skier will be able to slide on and off the chairlift seat.

friction mechanism

Required on the side of the seating to prevent skiers from sliding down the mountain after falling.

center of mass location

To make sure the skier is sitting securely on the chair lift.

holding points and pinch points

Required to allow adaptive instructors to assist their skiers on and off the lift and in case of falling to allow ski lift operators to assist skiers out of the snow.


For further information regarding the RESNA Adaptive Sports Equipment (ASE) standards and the standards committee, please click on the button below.


Call for Committee Interest on Ground and Floor Surfaces