Inclusive Park and Recreation Design: Versluis Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan

"It broke my heart every day seeing Dad or Mom seated on the pavement watching their kids play 100 feet away on the beach." These words from John Short, Parks Director of Plainfield Charter Township, echoed the feelings of many in the community.

This quickly growing township on the northeast edge of Grand Rapids saw a need at Versluis Park and responded to the challenge. Tired of observing patrons who were unable to engage in beach and water activities because of varying abilities, they decided to do something about it.

Barre Falls Dam Picnic Area: An Outdoor Developed Area "Making the Grade" in Hubbarston, MA

Spring time brings a flurry of activity to our parks and recreation areas. As people return to the parks en masse, recreation providers hustle to make improvements to their sites. As park staff undertake spring projects, consider the Barre Falls Dam example and take a proactive approach towards providing accessibility. "We had picnic tables with no seats. People with disabilities would come with their families and the family members would have no where to sit." Ralph Gendron, Project Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, refers to the picnic site recently completed at Barre Falls Dam in Hubbardston, Massachusetts.

Renovations "Make the Grade" at Lake Sylvia State Park

A paved path winding along the edge of the lake.

Located north of Montesano, Washington, Lake Sylvia State Park is a quiet, peaceful retreat surrounded by forest. The Park began as an old logging camp in a wooded area halfway between Olympia and the Pacific shore. The lake was formed by damming up Sylvia Creek for the purpose of log ponding and power production.

In 1936, the town of Montesano donated the land to the State parks Commission for conservation. Additional lands were added to the park by a trade in 1985.

Disney Introduces Handheld Captioning

How do you caption a moving amusement ride? Use technology. That’s what the folks at Walt Disney World Resorts did.

Effectively communicating the story and message of moving amusement rides has long been a challenge for the amusement park industry. In many moving narrative attractions, such as Peter Pan’s Flight, it’s a small world, Pirates of the Caribbean and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, fixed captioning systems are not always effective as the ride is often moving too fast to read the captions. So the Disney engineers put wireless technology to work and developed a synchronized handheld captioning system.

Access at Mission San Luis

Mission San Luis, a National Historic Landmark site located in Tallahassee, Florida, was one of more than 100 mission settlements established in Spanish Florida between the 1560s and 1690s. Between 1656 and 1704, more than 1,400 Apalachee Indians and Spaniards lived at the mission. San Luis was a principal village of the Apalachee Indians and home of one of their most powerful leaders. San Luis was also the Spaniards' westernmost military, religious, and administrative headquarters. In 1983, the State of Florida purchased the property where the mission was located and began the research necessary to begin to present its story to the public. This story has been developed by painstaking archaeological excavations as well as through the translation of 17th- and 18th-century documents from Spanish archives. San Luis is the most thoroughly documented and archaeologically investigated mission in the Southeast.

What is an Accessible Trail?

Previous accessibility standards such as the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) address the built environment, "the bricks and mortar." These guidelines do not transfer well to the natural environment. The built environment is open to manipulation. For example, if there is a hill where someone wants to build the parking lot for a store, then a bulldozer is used to level the area. In contrast, the natural environment includes factors, such as the weather, that are out of human control. The natural environment is part of the experience people wish to enjoy on a trail.