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A Study of Participation in the Game of Golf by Persons with Disabilities and Persons Who have Health Concerns

A Study of Participation in the Game of Golf
by Persons with Disabilities and Persons Who have Health Concerns

A number of important events have occurred in recent years such as the invention or improvement of assistive devices for use in golf; development of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines for recreation facilities including golf facilities; and an increase in the number of organizations promoting golf for persons with disabilities and health concerns. 

ADA Compliance: March 15, 2012 is a Starting Line, not a Deadline

March 15, 2012 is upon us, the compliance date for the 2010 ADA Standards. The National Center on Accessibility staff continues to field questions from practitioners. Many questions are rooted in misinformation. As reported in our October article, What’s the Big Deal About March 15, 2012? there has been an influx of product advertisements warning facility operators to come into ADA compliance by March 15. The date has been falsely advertised in a sense as a “deadline” with statements to the effect that your facility must be retrofitted by this date or you run the risk of ADA litigation.

NCA Seeks Land Managers with Trails to Participate in National Study

In a collaborative effort between the U.S. Access Board, the National Center on Accessibility (NCA), and Oklahoma State University, NCA is seeking to provide qualified professionals, resource specialists and operations staff of parks in the United States with descriptive and or/comparative information about the status of construction practices of pedestrian/hiker, natural surface trails in the United States. This study will provide better insight into the products used on trail surfaces, the firmness and stability of those surfaces, and the frequency of maintenance/repair activities performed.

Access Today: January/February 2012

DOJ Issues Guidance on Means of Entry/Exit to Swimming Pools

Is a pool lift required at every public pool? Can a pool lift be shared between pools? Can a pool lift be portable?  To address these questions, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a technical assistance document earlier this month Accessible Pools: Means of Entry and Exit. Long awaited, the DOJ guidance offers its interpretation and expectations for pool access at existing facilities covered by Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. DOJ cites the provisional requirement for Title II entities to meet the program access standard and provide swimming programs in the most integrated setting. The enforcement agency also lists factors to determine which pools should be made accessible. DOJ further states in the guidance for Title II entities that sharing accessible equipment between pools is not permitted, unless it would result in undue burdens to provide equipment at each one. For public accommodations covered by Title III, DOJ cites the readily achievable provision and states that the barrier removal obligation is a continuing one, and it is expected that a business will take steps to improve accessibility over time. 

Access Today: December 2011

Season’s Greetings from the National Center on Accessibility

During this holiday season more than ever, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who make inclusion of people with disabilities in parks, recreation and tourism possible.  Your commitment and continued work are vital to improving the health and wellness of people with disabilities throughout the United States and abroad. In this spirit we say, simply but sincerely, Thank You. Season’s greetings and best wishes this holiday and throughout the new year.          -the NCA Staff


Registration Open for NCA 2012 Training Courses

Access Today: October 2011

2012 International Building Code Expands to Recreation Facility Access
While the US Department of Justice has been garnering headlines over the last year for adoption of the new 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, the 2012 International Building Code has quietly come on the scene as The new accessibility standard. In many ways, the new 2012 IBC may have far more reach for making recreation facilities accessible. For the first time in the IBC history, the model code includes technical provisions for recreation facilities.   

Access Today: June/July 2011

From Tape Measure to Transition Plan: NCA Trains Intermountain Region on Accessibility Assessment Process for National Parks

News Release: First Year Findings on the Accessibility of Playground Surfaces Published

May 24, 2011


First Year Findings on the Accessibility of Playground Surfaces Published

Do playground surfaces remain accessible for people with disabilities over time? A research team at the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) at Indiana University is attempting to answer that question. The first year findings from a longitudinal study on the installation and maintenance of accessible playground surfaces reveal there is no perfect playground surface. The NCA study, which is being funded by the U.S. Access Board, is examining the performance of various types of surfacing materials at 25 newly constructed playgrounds, including poured-in-place rubber, engineered wood fiber, rubber tiles, and hybrid surface systems.

Access Today: May 2011

Expert White Papers on Exhibit Design for People with Low Vision Published


 Visitors touch a bronze tactile model of the island and Pearl Harbor.

Visitors examine the tactile model of Pearl Harbor at the visitor center in preparation to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.

White papers on exhibit design for people with low vision have been published as a result of a conference workshop conducted by the National Center on Accessibility in cooperation with the U.S. Access Board and the National Park Service. The four papers, written by leading national experts, discuss exhibit design issues and operational considerations for people who are blind and people who have low vision. The project Summary Report describes the global issues from visitor expectations for independence to tactile experiences and staff training.  The expert papers include:

What Visitors with Vision Loss Want Museums and Parks to Know about Effective Communication by Beth Ziebarth, Director of the Accessibility Program at the Smithsonian Institution.
Tactile Mapping for Cultural and Entertainment Venues by Steven Landau, President of Touch Graphics, Inc.
Current Media Technology, Appropriate Application of Technology, Future Research Needs by Larry Goldberg, Director of the Media Access Group at WGBH.

NCA Staff Make Trek to Everglades


A man sets a digital level down on the rocky ruin-lined trail.

NCA Intern Brent Wells measures the running slope along a trail to the ruins at Tuzigoot National Monument.

While many were on spring break in March, the NCA team was hard at work in South Florida. A special request was received from Everglades National Park to conduct an accessibility assessment of major visitor use facilities and programs within the park. In addition to the accessibility assessment of the Everglades, recent site visits and assessments for NCA staff have included Weir Farm National Historic Site (Wilton, CT), the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site (Hogenville, KY), Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site (La Junta, CO), Petroglyph National Monument (Albuquerque, NM), Catoctin Mountain Park (Thurmont, MD), the Martin Luther King National Historic Site (Atlanta, GA), Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle National Monuments (Camp Verde, AZ). 


The assessments give park personnel the opportunity to ask NCA staff in depth questions on ways to improve visitor access. According to NCA Accessibility Specialist, Jeff Townsend, “The park personnel were very interested in getting feedback regarding their renovations to the visitor center and exhibit space currently in progress. We are excited to return in June when we will be conducting a training course for the Intermountain Region and have the chance to see the completed project.”


Iraq War Veteran Speaks to Indiana University Community as Part of Disability Awareness Month


Photo of Josh Bleill wearing Indianapolis Colts shirt, holding football and leaning against Colts goal post.  Bleill's shorts reveal prosthetics on both legs.
 Indianapolis Colts Community Spokesperson and Iraq war veteran Josh Bleill on the cover of his new book, “One Step at a Time.”

The Indiana University Disability Roundtable hosted Josh Bleill, Iraq war veteran and Indianapolis Colts community spokesperson, on March 22 as part of Disability Awareness Month on the Big Ten campus.  Bleill's inspirational talk discussed his "one bad day," when on October 15, 2006, an improvised explosive device (IED) struck his vehicle while he and other Marines were on combat patrol in Fallujah, Iraq.  Bleill awoke five days later in Germany to learn that two of his friends had been killed and that both of his legs had been amputated.

With a lot of hard work and determination, Bleill recovered after 22 months rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. His time spent at Walter Reed included an excursion to see the Indianapolis Colts play the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl and a follow up visit from the team. During the Colts visit to Walter Reed, team owner, Jim Irsay, requested Bleill come see him after his rehabilitation to discuss job opportunities. That he did. Bleill was brought into the NFL franchise to speak to community groups around the state regarding personal challenges, leadership, team work and being a good citizen. Bleill recently published his first book “One Step at a Time, A Young Marine’s Story of Courage, Hope and a New Life in the NFL.” In the book and through his public appearances, Bleill frankly discusses the experience of acquiring a disability. But it is his charm, good sense of humor and easy going personality that suggests Bleill may soon be well sought after beyond Indianapolis as a national speaker.


Wheeled Mobility Devices: New Regulations and Litigation Roll Forward

In the newly revised regulations for Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Department of Justice seeks to clarify the definitions and distinguish between wheelchairs and “other power-driven mobility devices.” Use of both must be open to all areas that are also open for pedestrians. However, use of “other power-driven mobility devices” might be different if the covered entity can demonstrate such use would fundamentally alter its programs, services, or activities, create a direct threat, or create a safety hazard. For parks, recreation and tourism, this means facility owners and land managers should 1) become familiar with the revised regulations; 2) develop a policy on the use of wheeled and other power-driven mobility devices specific to the facility and/or land use area; while 3) openly communicating the policy to the public via web sites, brochures, signs and other materials.
To become more familiar with the revised regulations, consider accessing the webinar archive “Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices” hosted by American Trails earlier this year. In the session, Janet Zeller, USDA Forest Service, gives excellent examples of other power-driven mobility devices often used in the outdoors and the unique policy issues that may arise. An American Trails fact sheet on other power-driven mobility devices also accompanies the webinar.
Even with the new regulations, the litigation regarding other power-driven mobility devices has not necessarily come to a screeching halt, specifically when it comes to use of the Segways. A class-action lawsuit against Walt Disney World regarding its policy toward Segway use was order to settlement in April in U.S. District Court. In this case, the court does not agree with DOJ’s regulations specific to Segways and has sided with Walt Disney World blanket ban of the device on all properties. To read Judge Presnell’s ruling, see Mahala Ault, Stacie Rhea and Dan Wallace vs. Walt Disney World, Co, case no: 6:07-cv-1785-Orl-31KRS.

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.