Charting a New Course for Standards


To prepare for a new attempt to update the ANSI/ACCT 03-2019 Standards, the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) has been revising its procedures for drafting standards. And it presented its nearly-complete plan during an April 29 webinar. If the final plan is accepted—it must be approved by both the ACCT Consensus Group (CG) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) itself—it could dramatically reform the way ACCT standards are developed.

The April 29 presentation was rather complex and detailed. To better understand what it all means, API spoke with ACCT board members Michael R. Smith and Korey Hampton, both also members of the Accredited Procedures Task Force (APTF) that has been redefining the standards-writing process.

The Short Version

For those who don’t like to read, the short version is this: Future standards will be developed with much greater input from a wide range of stakeholders early in the process. All stakeholders who will be impacted by the standard will be encouraged to take part in drafting revisions to the current standard, and their perspectives and viewpoints will be incorporated.

That is a significant change. In the past, ACCT’s procedures limited the number of draft writers to 10; ANSI encourages no limits on contributors, and recommends broad participation by all stakeholders who will be affected by the standard. Going forward, there could be dozens or hundreds of stakeholders who have a say in the sections that impact them.

Revised Roles

The APTF proposal also restates the role of the Consensus Group. As is the typical ANSI process, ACCT, as the Accredited Standards Developer, will oversee the draft-writing process; in ACCT’s current procedures, the CG has a role in oversight also. That disappears in the new proposal. The role of the Consensus Group (which in the past had shared authority to set up task groups to help draft standards) becomes that of providing a check and balance on the draft standard.

This proposed change aligns with ACCT’s fiduciary requirements as the Approved Standards Developer, Smith said. ACCT also has the budget to fulfill this role, he added.

Draft-writing will likely be based in the TIRE Committee, as has been the case in the past. However, under ANSI rules, standards can be proposed by anyone, and that obviously includes the Consensus Group. So it’s still possible for the CG (or its members) to be involved in standards development.

To help ensure the CG’s role of providing balance in the approval process—think of a body like the Supreme Court, but one representative of the overall industry and not stacked to any particular point of view—the APTF proposal creates five stakeholder groups: producers, servicers, commercial operators, educational operators, and general interest. All groups have an equal say on a draft standard. The new groups would replace the current three, which are vendors, users, and general interest.

Again, the aim is to ensure that future standards achieve consensus across all the stakeholders in the industry. If any one group of stakeholders has an objection to a provision of a proposed standard, that objection must be resolved before the standard can gain “consensus” status.

In another change, the role of resolving any negative comments on the draft will be shared by ACCT (in practice, the Board and/or TIRE Committee) and the Consensus Group.

There’s a lot more in this proposal, which the APTF refers to as a “redlined copy of ACCT’s current Accredited Procedures,” but that’s it in a nutshell.

Next Steps

Once the APTF completes its work, the revised procedures must be approved by the ACCT Consensus Group and by ANSI. The fate of the revised set of procedures was unknown at press time, but the APTF did not anticipate major changes to it. Even if all goes smoothly, it will likely be late July, at the earliest, before the changes become final. And it could take longer.

For more information on the latest efforts to update the standards development process, check out the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Adventure Park Insider by subscribing today.


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