NCA Research

NCA conducts and facilitates research on issues critical to access in recreation environments. NCA has partnered with researchers from the universities of Minnesota, Utah, Georgia and Tennessee to discover the needs and preferences of people with disabilities. NCA Research provides professionals with practical solutions to enhance access for visitors with disabilities. NCA Research has shaped the development of policy and accessibility standards nationally and internationally.

 Electronic copies of all NCA research reports are available through the IU Scholar Works repository.

Best Practices

Best Practices of Accessibililty in Parks and Recreation: A Delphi Survey of National Experts in Accessibility.  Voight, Alison; Robb, Gary; Skulski, Jennifer; Getz, Deborah; Scharven, Debbie (2008).  Final Report (PDF).



Temporary Beach Surface Study - Seven temporary surfaces tested on ease of installation, maintenance and usability in Daytona, Florida (2001).  Executive Summary (PDF).  Final Report (PDF).

Beach Study: Assistive Devices and Surfaces - Original study conducted at Bradford Woods (1993).  Final Report (PDF).



National Survey on Campground Accessibility: Policies and Practices -- A study of policies and procedures common to accommodating people with disabilities in campgrounds and campsites throughout the United States (2006).   Final Report (PDF).


Cultural Arts Venues & Sports Arenas

Accommodating Patrons with Disabilities - A Survey of Ticket and Accommodation Policies for Performance Venues, Theaters and Sports Arenas. Conducted in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the ADA/504 Coordinators for the Arts, and the Indiana Institute on Community and Disability (2002).  Executive Summary (PDF).  Final Report (PDF).



For The Good of the Game - Under a grant from the USGA, a report on the status of golfers with disabilities in America. (1999).  Executive Summary (PDF).   Final Report (PDF).


Outdoor Developed Areas

Functional Aspects of Accessible Picnic Elements - This NCA research project, conducted in partnership with the University of Minnesota, looks at the functionality of different designs of picnic tables, grills and fire rings while surveying the preferences of park visitors with disabilities (2001).  Executive Summary (PDF).  Final Report (PDF).  Appendix (PDF).


Physical Activity and Disability

NCA has developed a series of monographs in collaboration with the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability. In addition, NCPAD maintains a database of research projects, resources, organization and programs focused on physical activity for people with disabilities.



A Longitudinal Study of Playground Surfaces to Evaluate Accessibility: Year One Findings.  The purpose of this longitudinal study, funded by the U.S. Access Board, is to evaluate a variety of playground surfaces, their ability to meet accessibility requirements, their costs upon installation and maintenance over a 3-5 years (April 2011),  Year One Findings Executive Summary (PDF)


Swimming Pools

Swimming Pool Accessibility Study - A swimming pool accessibility study for the U.S. Access Board resulting in the development of accessibility guidelines for pools. (1997) Final Report (PDF).  Recommendations and Product Information (PDF).



NCA National Trails Surface Study - Initiated in 2005, this longitudinal study is primarily the result of questions that the National Center on Accessibility has, for many years and continues to receive from organizations, agencies and individuals who desire to make their trails accessible; are interested in an unobtrusive surface that blends and is friendly to the environment; and provides a quality trail experience for people with and without disabilities.

NCA Longitudinal Trail Research Program on Soil Stabilizers - (1999) A two-year study on the effectiveness of surface treatments for creating trails accessible to people with mobility impairments.


Visitor Expectations

National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) is the most recent study of outdoor recreation of the US population. (2000)

Visitor Expectations and Perceptions of Program and Physical Accessibility in the National Park Service - An executive summary of a study of national park visitors with disabilities. The study identifies the perceptions of people with disabilities relative to program and physical accessibility in the National Park Service. Conducted in partnership with the University of Tennessee (2001).  Executive Summary (PDF).  Final Report (PDF).  Appendix (PDF).