The Adaptive-ready Checklist

Go beyond ADA to make a welcoming, inclusive climbing environment where EVERYONE wants to be.

Guess what? People have physical differences.

We ALL have physical differences. Taller, missing a leg, shorter, can’t see, one arm doesn’t work as well as the other, use a wheelchair. You get the idea.

What if you could make simple adjustments to your current climbing facility or plans for your new climbing terrain and building that would make your place accessible and welcoming to all those people with physical differences a.k.a. EVERYONE?

Some of those people might join your community, take your classes, and buy memberships. They just need to know they fit in.

This little guide offers tips on how to make sure your place is accessible-ready. You can take action on many of them as soon as you finish reading this pamphlet. 

If you’d like information beyond the checklist below, contact:

Paradox Sports – The nonprofit leading the way towards making climbing accessible to everyone

Team Eldo – The leader among climbing wall manufacturers when it comes to designing and building adaptive climbing terrain

General

  • Follow ADA guidelines during development, or retrofit your facility to meet criteria.
  • Host monthly adaptive climbing nights and build community.
  • Work with an existing adaptive sports group in your area.
  • Don’t turn groups away because “it might be too tricky”!
  • Incorporate disability etiquette into your staff training. Check out Paradox Sports to host an Adaptive Initiative Course!
  • Don’t be scared by insurance / running “risky” programs – it could be a violation of the ADA to exclude people because of a presumption about their limitations.

Wall Design & Routesetting

  • Include overhanging sections to accommodate campusing and mechanical advantage systems.
  • Add or utilize existing corners to allow for routesetting that helps with balance and offers novel routes for sit-climbers.
  • Incorporate slab walls for visually impaired climbers or climbers with limited mobility.
  • Install load-bearing anchors at the top and bottom of walls.
  • Vary routes for different climbing styles, not just “easy” to “hard”.

Flooring

  • Ramps to all climbing areas
  • Firm, closed-cell foam to facilitate movement with wheelchairs and crutches
  • Floor anchors or sandbags

Bathrooms

  • Accessible bathrooms have trash receptacles
  • Accessible changing room
  • Appropriate grab rails in restroom
  • Baby changing station in the men’s and women’s restroom
  • Space to do 360 degrees turn in wheelchair
  • Stall is wide enough to fit wheelchair parallel to toilet and close the door

Entry and Facility

  • Entrance wide enough to fit standard wheelchair base (ideally 32”)
  • Tables of appropriate height for comfortable seating in a wheelchair
  • Waiver station at appropriate height for a wheelchair or have a tablet that can be hand-held
  • Ability to reach the checkout counter
  • Offer paper waivers
  • Elevator for access to upstairs areas.
  • No turnstiles
  • Keep ramps, hallways, and doorways unblocked
  • Offer alternative belay tests

Equipment

  • Chest harnesses or adult full body harnesses
  • Headsets for Visually Impaired climbers
  • Climbing Foot – Eldo Z
  • Easy Seat – Misty Mountain

Disability Etiquette 101

Please share these helpful hints with staff. Even if your facility doesn’t go completely adaptive-ready, knowing these pointers can make interactions for everyone more comfortable. Remember, 1 in 4 people has a disability. They will walk through your doors.

  • Person First—“people with disabilities” not “disabled person”
  • Ask before you help—people with disabilities are the best judge of what they can or cannot do.
  • Do not touch a person’s assistive devices (wheelchair, crutches, cane, etc) without permission—people with disabilities consider their equipment to be part of their personal space.
  • Do not touch a person’s guide dog unless you have explicit permission.
  • Speak directly to the person, not to the person assisting them.
  • People who use wheelchairs have different disabilities and varying abilities. Some can use their arms and hands. Some can get out of their wheelchairs and even walk for short distances.
  • Identify yourself before making physical contact with someone who is blind.
  • If you have to change your facility (rearranged furniture) let the person with visual impairments know.
  • Yes – you can say “It was good to see you,” and “See you later,” to a person who is blind.
  • People with amputations or limb difference often refer to their residual limb as “stump”.
  • Don’t use words like “victim”.