December 06, 2018

Duckworth Introduces Legislation to Make Fitness Facilities More Accessible for People with Disabilities


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced legislation to make fitness facilities across American more accessible for those with disabilities. The Exercise and Fitness for All Act would establish new federal guidelines to help ensure people with disabilities have the same opportunity to use fitness facilities as their able-bodied peers, and it would allow small businesses to use the Disabled Access Tax Credit to help cover the purchase of accessible exercise equipment.

“No one should be the denied the ability to lead a healthy lifestyle because they have a disability, but many exercise gyms and fitness facilities across our country are not accessible for people with disabilities and do not comply with federal rules,” Duckworth said. “I know how frustrating this problem is. This legislation will help lower the barriers that prevent many Americans from accessing gyms across our country.”

Adults living with a disability experience far higher rates of obesity and chronic disease than those without a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also found that the inaccessibility of many fitness facilities create barriers for those will a disability to exercise due to the lack of accessible space and equipment.

Under current rules issued by the Department of Justice, fitness facilities are required to meet accessible design standards, such as providing sufficient space next to each type of exercise equipment so that a person in a wheelchair can use it. However, many fitness facilities do not currently meet these standards. The Exercise and Fitness for All Act will help many facilities upgrade their facilities to comply with the law – and it would require the U.S. Access Board, a federal agency that promotes accessibility, to issue guidelines specifying the number and types of accessible equipment at the facility.