Access Today: February 2011

Register Early for Discount on Upcoming NCA Training Courses

A group measures the accessible parking space in front of a wooded nature center.
NCA training course participants practice conducting an accessibility assessment at a nature center as part of the field exercise.

NCA will be hosting two open registration courses this spring, Retrofitting for Accessibility and Accessibility Management in Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The Retrofit course will be held on the Indiana University campus, while the Accessibility Management course will be held in St. Louis. For the first time, NCA is offering early bird discounts with $55 off the standard registration fee for those received before March 1. The early bird discount is a great opportunity to take advantage of training particularly during times with reduced budgets for professional development.


People with Disabilities Sought for Study of Participation in the Game of Golf

NCA continues to seek participation in an on-line survey to determine why people with disabilities or who are aging do or do not participate in the game of golf. The study is looking for people with disabilities who may have never played, currently play or are interested in playing golf to determine what factors help or hinder golf participation. Read more >

Awaiting Outdoor Accessibility Standards: Trail Building at Shaver’s Creek

When Brian Sedgwick, Building Services Coordinator for Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, first heard the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) was offering training last spring in San Antonio, he was thrilled at the opportunity to attend. Sedgwick’s anticipation to attend an NCA training course was sparked by an upcoming project to design a new accessible trail at Shaver’s Creek. The outdoor center at The Pennsylvania State University provides a variety of educational and recreational opportunities ranging from tours, trails, discovery rooms, a boardwalk and gardens. Read more >

Awareness: Service Animals Providing Support to People with Hidden Disabilities

As part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s revised regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2010, the definition of service animal was clarified. The rule defines "service animal" as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Further, it states “dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals.” It might be obvious to determine the tasks a service dog is performing for a person with low vision as they work to navigate the environment. However, when it comes to tasks helping people with hidden disabilities, the “service” is not always so clear.


Adria Nassim is a 24 year old student with autism and has just started using a service dog. She is featured in a new YouTube video with her service dog, Lucy, a yellow lab. In the short video clip that can be used for disability awareness training, they explain the work and tasks Lucy helps Adria with throughout the day. Adria also blogs about her new experiences with Lucy and the latest news surrounding use of service animals.

Is SMARTE the Next Generation of Playground Surfaces?

NCA does not promote, sell or endorse any product, service or vendor. The following article is an illustration of research and development of products to create greater access for people with disabilities. As with any product, consumers are encouraged to research before making any purchase. Read more about what questions to ask before purchasing a product to improve access >

New playground composite structure.

New playground at the Leeward YMCA, Honolulu, built by the NFL Play 60, P & G, and Kaboom.

There are unitary playground surfaces: poured in place rubber and tiles. There are loose fill playground surfaces: engineered wood fiber and shredded rubber. Could a hybrid surface system combining both unitary and loose fill materials be the new generation of playground surfacing? Elaine Sherman hopes so.

Sherman has spent the last 10 years working on the development of the SMARTE playground surface system. Originally prototyped and researched through the Illinois Park and Recreation Association, Sherman has worked on combining the properties of shredded loose rubber in pillows to serve as the surface base. Then she covers the “pillows” with a rubber mat that looks much like melted spaghetti. An accessibility advocate with more than 30 years in the field, Sherman focused her development on creating a surface that was resilient to protect children from falls and accessible to enable children with mobility impairments to play with their non-disabled peers throughout the play area.

Last summer, Sherman entered into an exclusive partnership with Liberty Tire Recycling (LTR) to make the surface system more widely available. In January, Sherman and the LTR crew were on hand during the Pro Bowl in Hawaii to build a new community playground built by the professional football players as part of the NFL Play 60 program. The community build was coordinated through Kaboom. Sherman and LTR continue to work on product development in hopes that a hybrid surface system can provide the perfect balance between impact attenuation and accessibility.