Access Today: May 2010

Trail Planners and Builders Discuss Outdoor Access at NCA 21st Century Trails Workshop
NCA training course participants inspect the trail surfaces installed at Bradford Woods that are part of the NCA research study.Trail planners, builders and coordinators from land management agencies around the country participated in NCA’s 21st Century Trails Workshop last week. The 2-day experiential workshop was held at Bradford Woods amidst some of central Indiana’s most beautiful weather and springtime foliage. Bill Botten, U.S. Access Board, presented an overview of the draft accessibility guidelines for outdoor developed areas. Patti Longmuir, PEL Consulting, presented sessions on trail construction and considerations to plan universally designed and sustainable trails. Participants commented:
“[It was] very beneficial to get ‘hands on’ application practice and go through real world problem solving.”
“I now have ideas for both park district situations, museums, historical areas, zoos and nature areas.”
“The presentations were great and informative, but the site visits were the most helpful. Being able to physically practice what is preached is invaluable. Even better was to be able to work with staff that used and needed accessible facilities, units, and trails.”
The next NCA training program, Accessibility Management in Parks and Recreation, is scheduled for June 22-25 in Portland. 2.4 CEU's.
DOJ Sends ADA Revisions to OMB for Final Approval
On April 26, the Office of Management and Budget received the Final Rule for revisions to Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act slated to be released by the U.S. Department of Justice. Review by OMB is considered one of the last steps before the final rule can be issued. Typically OMB has 90 days to approve the rule or send it back to the issuing agency with questions or further direction. At the earliest, this could suggest enforceable updates to Title II and III could be released in sync with the 20th anniversary of the ADA in July. DOJ rulemaking revisions to Title II and III date back to 2004. For park and recreation practitioners, DOJ’s long awaited rule is anticipated to adopt Chapter 10 Recreation Facilities issued by the Access Board in 2004 under the ADA-ABA and clarify regulations on how the program access standard applies to existing recreation facilities.
Let the Picnic & Grilling Season Commence

The Memorial Day holiday weekend typically marks the start of the outdoor picnic season. As maintenance staff ready new picnic tables, repair old tables, distribute and disperse throughout their parks and forests, they can prepare picnic sites to be accessible for everyone by adopting just a few simple practices:

  1.  Position picnic tables, grills and other amenities on either accessible routes or outdoor recreation access routes.
  2.  Allow space for more than one wheelchair user at the picnic table and locate the spaces to facilitate social interaction.
  3.  Allow for extra leg space, knee clearance and bench length for comfort and ease of sitting at the table.
  4. Provide extra wide clear floor space around picnic tables and grills and ensure the surface is firm and stable.
  5. Disperse picnic tables among various locations to give visitors choice of sunny or shaded areas.
  6. Provide information such as signage, maps and park brochures to indicate the location of accessible picnic sites if not all of the sites are accessible.
These tips are based on NCA research with the University of Minnesota "Functional Aspects of Accessible Picnic Elements.” The April 2010 issue of Recreation Management also has a great article by Kelli Anderson on how to Turn Basic Site Furnishings into Recreational Enhancements.
Overheard: Listserv Discussion Fuels Great Examples for Accommodation of Wheelchairs in Park and Venue Settings

There are a number of disability and accessibility listservs for professionals to share information on procedures for accommodating visitors with disabilities. Betty Siegel at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts facilitates a listserv for accessibility specialists in the cultural arts. A recent question came up where a program coordinator asked how other facilities offer wheelchairs as a visitor service without the wheelchair “wandering off” the property. The provision of wheelchairs is not a requirement of either the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act since they are considered personal assistive devices and the responsibility of the individual with the disability. However, in large park and venue settings, the provision of the assistive device can be good customer service especially for visitors who may be ambulatory but have difficulty walking long distances or individuals with temporary impairments such as a broken leg where using crutches for long distances would cause fatigue and negatively impact their overall experience. Some suggestions from the listserv discussion included:

  • Acquiring a heavy frame wheelchair that is more difficult to pick up, fold or load into a car;
  • Stenciling/painting the facility name and logo to the back support and other areas of the wheelchair;
  • Use of RFID or theft prevention technology; and/or
  • Attach a vertical metal pole similar to those used in airports.
Take some time to be a “visitor” in your park, forest or facility. How can you improve the visitor experience for people with disabilities by balancing operational needs and procedures with good customer service?
NCA Seeks New Playground Installations for Research Study
With support from the U.S. Access Board, NCA is conducting a longitudinal study of playground surfaces. More than 20 sites in the Midwest have already joined the study. New installations are being sought in the Chicago suburbs and northeast Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan and central Ohio. New sites must be located within public parks and utilize either poured in place rubber, tiles, engineered wood fiber, shredded rubber or a hybrid system. New installations with shredded rubber are particularly sought for participation. Interested participants should contact Jennifer Skulski,   
NCA to Host Workshop on Exhibit Design Relating to Low Vision and Blindness
In conjunction with the LEAD (Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability) Conference, NCA will host a pre-conference workshop on exhibit design relating to low vision and blindness on August 25 in San Diego. This two-part pre-conference workshop is a comprehensive analysis of exhibition design as it relates to people who are blind or have low vision. Participants will engage in exhibit planning and design process with experts in the field, study examples of exhibits that successfully provide access for people with low vision or who are blind, and contribute to the development of a Best Practices Technical Assistance bulletin on exhibition design. LEAD Conference >