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June 16, 2022
As a campground owner or operator, you know your business’s success is dependent on making sure each camper has a great time at your property. However, for every visitor to enjoy their stay, accessible accommodations are a must.
Some of your campers may have disabilities and deserve an equally enjoyable experience at your property, so it’s crucial to take the necessary steps for creating an accessible campground. To provide the best experience possible for all guests, there are five measures you can take to make your outdoor property accessible.
A civil rights legislation piece, The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), was passed in 1990 to allow those with disabilities access to aspects of life that had previously been difficult — if not impossible — for many people with disabilities. Although it’s illegal to deny access to your property based on disabilities, adhering to most ADA guidelines is optional.
While it’s not required for campgrounds in most cases (with the exception of accessible bathrooms for employees), following the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and building codes for accessibility can help make your campground available to everyone.
ADA Central says that adhering to the ADA requirements for campgrounds “will potentially bring you a significant increase in revenue, the possibility of gaining great reviews and P.R., plus it’s just the right thing to do.”
One ADA regulation requires a certain percentage of ADA accessible areas per campground, based on the total number of campsites at your property. These accessible campsites should have a tent pad — a flat surface with minimal slopes. Flat surfaces not only make wheelchairs more manageable, they can also make it easier for those with disabilities to lie down and get up without risking injury.
In addition to flat surfaces, having ADA compliant ramps and trails with compact surfaces can benefit anyone with mobility challenges. This may include individuals who use wheelchairs, canes, or rollators during their camping trips.
Going to the bathroom can be a challenge for people with disabilities where a bathroom wasn’t designed with accessibility in mind. This is why bathrooms used by campers and employees must be ADA compliant.
In fact, ADA compliance is required in this case because it is the right of employees to have accessible restrooms to use while they are at work. Consider the following ways to make your bathrooms accessible:
You may be able to respond to the needs and requests of campers with disabilities by using a campground reservation management system to communicate with them about their camping location options ahead of time. Having campsites that are closer to accessible bathrooms as an option can make those with disabilities feel cared for and respected.
Creating rest areas with seating along your trails can help your campers avoid dehydration, offer those with mobility issues a way to take a break, and if these rest areas are covered or shaded, provide a cooler retreat to help people avoid overheating. This is also an effective way to allow those who fatigue easily to enjoy a hike or walk along your trails.
There are several options to increase accessibility, including by implementing yurts or tents with tall doors to accommodate wheelchairs. Not only will this help all guests to be comfortable, it’s also a fun way to make your campground more unique and memorable.
If there are RV rentals available at your outdoor property, you can make them more accessible by including ramps that lead to the RV entrance. Additionally, consider offering taller bed options to make the process of getting in and out of bed more comfortable.
Remember that some disabilities are more visible than others, but you should make sure that all people with disabilities are able to access your campground and its amenities.
To meet the needs of all employees and campers, it’s important to consider invisible disabilities — such as epilepsy — when updating your property with accessibility measures. For example, having a private place to rest after a seizure is a smart and thoughtful offering.
Illnesses such as anemia, chronic Lyme disease, or depression can cause fatigue, especially in the warmer seasons. Other chronic illnesses may have additional symptoms. Offering your guests the option to make special requests through your reservation system can ensure that they can enjoy their stay and feel secure while visiting your property. Requests, such as bottled water, should be met with compliance when possible, and an understanding attitude always.
ADA-compliant and accessible campgrounds are difficult to find, and many older campgrounds are not equipped to accommodate people with disabilities. However, gradual accessibility updates and improvements can make your campground stand out while providing an equal camping opportunity to everyone who visits.
By putting in the effort, you can show your campers that your priority is to provide the best experience possible, and that you care about all of your guests.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to create a memorable experience at your campground or RV park, download our Operational Excellence guide to take your property to the next level.