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  Access Today: Summer 2000 issue

Access Today, Summer 2000

Inside this issue:

NCA Moves to Indiana University Campus

New NCA address and phone numbers:

National Center on Accessibility
Indiana University
2805 East 10th St, Suite 190
Bloomington, IN 47408-2698

Voice: (812) 856-4422
TTY: (812) 856-4421
Fax: (812) 856-4480
Technical Assistance: 812-856-4427
Education: 812-856-4429
Marketing: 812-856-4428
E-mail: nca@indiana.edu

National Center on Accessibility Marks 10th Anniversary of ADA with Release of Research Findings on Activity of People with Disabilities in Recreation and the Environment

This is a photo of campers at Bradford Woods accessing the beach and waterfront.
Campers at Bradford Woods accessing the beach and waterfront.
The National Center on Accessibility, a collaborative program of Indiana University and the National Park Service marks the tenth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this summer with the release of research findings on the activity of people with disabilities in recreation. Prepared by Dr. Brian McCormick, Department of Recreation and Park Administration at Indiana University, for the NCA, the research study, "People with Disabilities in the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment" illustrates key points in participation of people with disabilities through the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE). NSRE, conducted by the USDA Forest Service, is the most recent study of outdoor recreation of the U.S. population.

Significant findings in McCormick's analysis include:
  • Patterns of participation in outdoor recreation were similar across most activities for people with and without disabilities. Activities with the highest rates of participation among people without disabilities also tended to show the highest rates of participation among people with disabilities.
  • Overall, people with disabilities participated at rates equal to, or somewhat lower than people without disabilities.
  • In most outdoor recreation activities, people with disabilities in middle age groups reported less frequent participation than people without disabilities; however in the youngest and oldest age groups, people with disabilities participated at rates equal to, or greater than, people without disabilities.
  • In nature study activities, people with disabilities participated at rates higher than those of people without disabilities.
  • Although most people with disabilities reported experiencing few barriers to outdoor recreation, barriers of health conditions and physical limitations were experienced by the majority people with disabilities.
  • Most people with disabilities did not report needing accommodations or assistive devices for participation in outdoor recreation. Among those requiring assistance, the most common assistive devices/accommodations were mobility aids, a companion/assistant, and architectural modifications.
  • Attitudes toward accessibility seem to indicate that people with disabilities generally felt that no outdoor recreation area should be completely" inaccessible;" however agree that more primitive areas will be generally less accessible than less primitive areas.
  • In addition, people with disabilities tended to favor preservation of the environment over accessibility in the National Wilderness Preservation System; however, there was general agreement that environmental modifications in NWPS areas should be made accessible for people with disabilities.

The Executive Summary of "People with Disabilities in the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment" is available through the NCA website.

Trail Research at Bradford Woods

This is a photo of a Bradford Woods trail.
Bradford Woods trail.
A project was recently completed comparing the effectiveness of several different surface treatments for trails, that would help make a trail accessible to people with mobility impairments.

The results are available on the NCA website or in a small brochure. Information includes procedures used, results after two years of wear and tear on test plots and technical data. One copy of this brochure can be ordered at no cost. Please contact the NCA at 812-856-4422, or email us at nca@indiana.edu

Product Review: Fire Rings

This is a photo of a fire ring used for outdoor cooking.
Fire ring.
The emergence of the Outdoor Developed Areas Report submitted by the Regulatory Negotiating Committee for Outdoor Developed Areas has brought the issue of campsite accessibility to the attention of many campground managers throughout the country. Among the features that will soon be required to be accessible within a campsite is the site furniture. The focus of this article is on one of the most common and most used pieces of site furniture, the fire ring/cooking surface.

The report recommends that a fire ring have a minimum height of 9 inches above the ground. It also requires that a cooking surface be installed between 15 inches and 34 inches above the ground. In addition to the recommendations of the Outdoor Developed Areas Report, there are several features that can enhance access for people with disabilities:

  • The method used to remove the cooking grate from the fire ring so that the inside of the ring can be accessed is important. Some methods that use a height adjustment notched system require much more physical effort than a hinged system such as the one shown in the photograph above. Some individuals with disabilities may not have the ability to expend large amounts of physical effort needed for the notched system.
  • The weight of the cooking grate is important. A lighter cooking grate will allow a wider range of people with disabilities to manipulate the cooking grate.
  • A good heat-exchange system that allows the outside of the fire ring to remain cooler and prevent possible burns is an excellent feature. Some individuals with disabilities lack the sensory functions in their extremities that warn against the threat of being burned. A double walled chamber such as the one in the photo is a good choice.

Call NCA for more information: 812-856-4427

NCA Offers Satellite Seminar

The National Center on Accessibility, in partnership with the National Park Service, will host a one-day workshop on "Access to Outdoor Recreation Environments" via distance education media including a satellite broadcast, September 27, 2000.

During the last 6 years, the U.S. Access Board has been working with national stakeholders in recreation to develop accessibility guidelines for outdoor recreation environments. Representatives of the National Center on Accessibility and National Park Service have taken an active role in the development of the proposed accessibility guidelines. This one-day workshop will address the proposed guidelines for trails, campgrounds, picnic areas and beaches. Presentations will also provide an update on the status of rulemaking and highlight "best practices" applications in outdoor recreation environments.


  • National Park Service Commitment to Access for Visitors with Disabilities
  • Rulemaking Process and Status for Outdoor Developed Areas
  • Access to Wilderness Areas: An Interview with David C. Park, National Park Service
  • Access to Trails
  • Applying Accessibility Provisions to Trail Design
  • Trail Construction
  • Access to Beaches
  • Access to Camping & Picnic Areas

Speakers include: Robert Stanton, Director, NPS; Peggy Greenwell, U.S. Access Board; Dave Park, NPS; Peter Jensen, Open Spaces Management; Don Beers, California State Parks; Dr. Ed Hamilton, Virginia Easter Seal Society; and Ruth Doyle, Santa Fe National Forest.

More Than Just Sharing The Same Space: Social Acceptance and Leisure Lifestyles of People With Disabilities

By Mary Ann Devine, Kent State University

People with disabilities have become increasingly more visible in the mainstream of society. Although increased visibility is due, in part, to greater physical accessibility (Oliver, 1996), physical accessibility does not assure social acceptance (Taylor & Bogdan, 1993). A lack of social acceptance can inhibit participation in community life (Hahn, 1988), in that when people with disabilities perceive that they have less equal status than their peers without disabilities they are less likely to be active community members. A lack of social acceptance has been linked with low attendance rates and levels of satisfaction in work and education settings for people with disabilities (Coyner, 1994; McKittrick, 1980). While it has been speculated that a lack of social acceptance of people with disabilities in leisure settings may inhibit leisure participation (Allen & Allen, 1995; Sable, 1995; Germ & Schleien, 1997), there is limited understanding of the relationship between social acceptance and the leisure lifestyle of people with disabilities.

A study was conducted in 1997 with support from the NCA, to examine the relationship between social acceptance and the leisure lifestyle of people with disabilities. There were 39 individuals with disabilities and 257 individuals without disabilities who participated in the study, all of whom were registered and participating in inclusive leisure programs. They were asked to complete three questionnaires to obtain demographic, leisure lifestyle, and social acceptance data.

Analysis of the data uncovered several relationships between the variables. First, there was a relationship between the perceptions of people with disabilities and what their peers without disabilities reported regarding social acceptance. Specifically, in the inclusive leisure program people with disabilities perceived that their peers without disabilities were neutral (neither accepting nor rejecting) toward them and people without disabilities indicated they felt neutral toward their peers with disabilities. A neutral level of acceptance may mean that participants with and without disabilities in inclusive programs are not getting to know each other. A lack of personal interaction between people with and without disabilities has been found to perpetuate stereotypes of people with disabilities and limit their involvement in community activities. A second relationship found was between perceived social acceptance and the frequency (how often they participate in inclusive programs) of leisure participation of people with disabilities. From this finding, it appears that perceptions of social acceptance matter, in that they may guide the decision making process of people with disabilities as to how frequently they participate in inclusive leisure services. For example, if people with disabilities perceive they are stigmatized in inclusive leisure settings they may be less likely to participate on a regular basis. Finally, a relationship was found between perceived social acceptance and social satisfaction (i.e., feeling like a member of the group, talking with fellow participants) of people with disabilities. In particular, this finding showed the less participants with disabilities perceived they were socially accepted, the less satisfied they were with the activity. A lack of satisfaction with leisure participation may result in a(n) decreased sense of enjoyment, heightened level of stress, lack of sense of belonging, and increased social isolation.

Creating a welcoming leisure environment for and by both groups is an important part of inclusive recreation programming. Attention should be given to designing satisfying experiences (i.e., matching abilities and challenges) for people with and without disabilities to promote regular and enjoyable leisure experiences. Leisure environments are forums where people can have more personal than casual contact. If people with disabilities don't feel accepted or welcomed, no amount of physical accessibility will create social acceptance.

Mary Ann Devine is an Assistant Professor at Kent State University. Her practice and research interest is the inclusion of people with disabilities in leisure services.

NCA develops white papers for NCPAD project

The National Center on Accessibility has developed several fact sheets and white papers over the spring to serve as resources on recreation and physical activity. The papers are written by professionals with national expertise in each of the represented fields and will be available through NCA's collaborative partnership with the National Center of Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Some of the new resources include:

  • "Exploring Family Adventure in the Outdoors", authored by Kathy Scholl of Wilderness Inquiry and University of Minnesota
  • "Taking a trip to the Outdoors? What to ask before you go."
  • "Playgrounds for ALL Kids!" authored by Cindy Burkhour, inclusive recreation consultant and member of the U.S. Access Board's Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Play Areas.
  • "Therapeutic Horseback Riding", authored by Jennifer Rekers, Arabian horse breeder and former therapeutic riding program volunteer
  • "Architectural and Program Access to Educational Settings and Field Trips", authored by consultant Julee Quarve-Peterson
  • "Recreation Access Rights, a Look at How the ADA Applies to Recreation and Some Case Law Studies", authored by John McGovern, Executive Director of the North Suburban Special Recreation Association
  • "Preferred Natural Environments for People with Disabilities", a look at the research study performed by the University of Michigan
  • "A Zoo Visit and the Benefits of Zoos", authored by consultant and former accessibility coordinator for the Brookfield Zoo, Mark Trieglaff
  • "Golf: You can play too!" authored by Gary Robb, Executive Director of the NCA
  • "Golf Instruction for People with Disabilities", authored by PGA/LPGA Golf Instructor, Judy Alvarez
  • "Big Game Hunting", authored by Cameron Brown, NCA Technical Assistance Specialist
  • "Senior Olympics and the Eden Alternative" authored by Project LIFE, University of Missouri Leisure for children with ADHD by Project LIFE, University of Missouri

Additional paper topics include; access to swimming pools, trail assessments, canoeing, and kayaking. HTML and PDF formats of the papers are available on the NCA website at www.nacaonline.org and on the NCPAD website at www.ncpad.org.

NCA Marks 10th Anniversary of ADA

This summer marks the 10th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA continues to be the most far-reaching, comprehensive federal civil rights law protecting people with disabilities from discrimination in employment, services of state & local government, public accommodations, telecommunications, and transportation. Over the last decade, the National Center on Accessibility has played a critical role in increasing awareness of inclusion of people with disabilities in parks, recreation and tourism while advancing the spirit and intent of the ADA.

Since its inception, NCA has trained over 20,000 professionals and answered over 19,000 requests for technical assistance. In addition, the NCA has distributed an estimated half million printed resource materials. NCA research findings have been instrumental in the developmental of national accessibility guidelines for swimming pools, trails, beaches, golf, and other recreation environments. Success stories of accessibility implementation from NCA clientele stretch from the Pennsylvania State Parks System to the Everglades, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and Yosemite National Park.

However, while thousands of individuals with disabilities have benefited from the law and been able to access employment, programs and services through the removal of barriers, the law itself is still heavily scrutinized some 10 years after its passage.

The National Organization on Disability Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities finds that only three in ten working-age (18-64) people with disabilities are employed full or part-time, compared to eight in ten working-age people without disabilities (32% versus 81%). The presence of a disability seems to prevent a clear majority of unemployed people with disabilities from participating in the work force.

This summer Congress is discussing the addition of an amendment to the ADA that would require 90 days notification to a defendant prior to a private right of action being filed in federal court. Opponents argue that opening up the law by adding amendments would significantly decrease the enforcement authority of the law. In addition, they argue that in several instances, time is of the essence and 90 days would slow compliance. If a parent registers their child for a summer camp program and needs to ensure that a sign language interpreter will be available so that the child can fully participate and benefit from the program, then by the time the 90 days has come and gone, so has summer and the child's opportunity to be fully included in the program. (Also, note that no other civil rights law protecting individuals from discrimination on the bases of age, race, religion, national origin or sex requires 90 days notification.)

In the fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Garrett vs. the University of Alabama. DOJ reports "Garrett is a consolidation of two employment suits against Alabama State agencies. One involves the alleged discriminatory demotion of an individual with breast cancer by the University of Alabama, and the other a claim that the Alabama Department of Youth Services failed to reasonably accommodate an individual with chronic asthma. States have argued that, because the ADA's protections go beyond the equal protection rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress lacks authority to subject them to lawsuits under the ADA." The Supreme Court's decision on this issue will heavily impact the compliance and enforcement authority of federal agencies with state governments. Thus far, six states (Arkansas, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, and Tennessee) have signed on to Hawaii's anti-ADA brief submitted to the Supreme Court in the Garrett vs. University of Alabama case.

While there are many issues in the coming months that will further define the depth and breath of the ADA, there is still much to celebrate on this 10th Anniversary. This certainly is a time of celebration for people with disabilities, the advocates, and professionals that work every day to apply the spirit and intent of the ADA by building communities, parks, and recreation environments (locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally) that are inclusive of youth, teens, and adults with disabilities. Take some time today to celebrate your contributions and successes to the implementation of the ADA. We look forward to a continued relationship with the vast network of NCA colleagues while meeting the challenges of the next decade together.

For more information on the ADA, its implementation, and celebrations, visit the following web sites:

U. S. Department of Justice: Special 10th Anniversary Status Report

CNN: Is the Disabilities Act Working?

Spirit of the ADA

National Council on Disability Report: Promises to Keep: A Decade of Federal Enforcement of the ADA

National Organization on Disability - Harris Survey Results

NCA Studying User Preferences in Play and Picnic Areas

The National Center on Accessibility is partnering with two organizations in conducting accessibility studies on playgrounds and picnic areas. Working with the Recreation Access Group in Michigan, children with and without disabilities will be observed in play and interviewed regarding their experiences on play elements designed for accessibility, as well as the more traditional elements that may or may not be accessible. The purpose of the study is to determine user preferences for play environments, provide field data on usability of "accessible play equipment", and to determine if play areas designed for greater accessibility promote social integration among children with and without disabilities.

NCA has also contracted with the University of Minnesota to study usability and preferences of people with and without disabilities relative to picnic elements (tables, grills, and fire-rings) that are both accessible and non-accessible. Social integration factors will also be considered in this study. Both studies are being completed by early fall and the results are expected to be published by the end of the year.

Aunt ADA

Dear Aunt Ada,

Recently, a problem has been occurring with the accessible spaces in the parking lot outside of the visitors center at our park. The parking lot has been designed to accommodate 500 vehicles. This includes the number of accessible spaces that are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). We have nine accessible spaces, two of which are van accessible. Here is the problem. We have a very high visitation by elderly people, many who need these accessible spaces because they are close to the building. Our staff has discovered that quite often, older people are actually parking in those extra wide access aisles for the van accessible spaces. The staff does not want to give them citations because they know that they really need the close spaces. Aunt Ada, we can really use your advice.

Kara Van

Ms. Van,

Your problem is becoming more prevalent than you would think. More people who are older are engaged more in recreational pursuits, even though some are experiencing a reduction in some of their physical abilities. Please let me begin by addressing a misconception regarding your statement about the "number of accessible spaces that are required" by ADAAG, which may also help towards reducing your problem. ADAAG does not "require" exactly nine accessible spaces for a 500 space parking lot. It does require, "at least" nine spaces. Anyone can exceed the "minimum" number of spaces and should do so if there is clearly a need. Remember, that "accessible" spaces have specific technical provisions to meet the needs of people who use mobility devices and need space to transfer from their vehicles to their wheelchair or scooter, including the use of lifts. Many older people only need close proximity to the facilities. Therefore, only after providing at least the minimum number of required "accessible" spaces, adding more spaces that are just "reserved" and are close to the building could be made available to meet the needs of the growing older population. About the violations; parking in the access aisles is wrong and should be enforced. Good luck!

Aunt Ada

Ada welcomes your questions related to the ADA.

Write to:
Aunt ADA
C/O NCA, Indiana University, 2805 East 10th St.,Suite 190
Bloomington IN 47408, or email Aunt ADA at:

Responses are strictly the opinion NCA and are not based on legal decisions.

A Universal Approach to Interpretive Planning, Programs and Design

A course sponsored by the National Center on Accessibility

This course is ideal for interpreters and educators, interpretive planners and specialists, accessibility coordinators, curators and exhibit planners or designers from park, recreation, museum, outdoor education and historic environments. Sessions will provide an understanding of the needs of people with disabilities and the application of the principles of Universal Design to interpretive programs and exhibits to achieve accessibility. Topics to be addressed include exhibits, audiovisuals, museum and education programs, published materials and communications, issues unique to parks, recreation and interpretive environments, and innovative methods to include the widest spectrum of users. This course will discuss tactile methods with maps, exhibits, and objects and new technologies involving sound, visual and computer programs. In addition, exhibit design methods and techniques to achieve accessibility will be presented. There will also be an introduction to some existing exhibit and programmatic guidelines. Various local sites will be used for field exercises to enhance understanding of classroom instruction. New Orleans has multiple historic and interpretive sites that are ideal for this purpose.

Topics to be addressed:

Exhibits, Printed Text & Display Labeling:
Principles and techniques of Maps & Models
Audio Description
Public information about accessible programs (publications, Website)
Interpretation Planning Process
Accessible Audio Visuals

Maison Dupuy
1001 Rue Toulouse
New Orleans, LA 70112

(504) 586-8000 Toll free 1-800-535-9177
Cost $88.00 per night

Please check our website for continuing updated information on this course.
There is a registration form, or you can call or fax your information:
812-856-4422 phone
812-856-4480 fax
812-856-4421 TTY

A Note To Our Readers

In August of 2000, NCA relocated our offices from Bradford Woods (near Martinsville, IN) to the Indiana University campus in Bloomington. We are excited about this move, while at the same time somewhat sad about moving from the beautiful Bradford Woods location. The move is necessary in order for NCA to grow and provide better services to our constituents. We will have easy access to the technology and resources that the University can provide, in order to make our services more effective. We will continue to use the wonderful resource of Bradford Woods to conduct product testing and related research, and will also use the facilities on occasion for our educational programs that are most conducive to that environment.

We look forward to continuing our service in assisting agencies that desire to make natural environments and programs usable by the greatest number and diversity of users possible. We hope that this move will be seamless to all, but please excuse us if we experience a temporary delay in responding to your requests for assistance and/or information.

Gary Robb - Executive Director, NCA



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National Center on Accessibility
501 North Morton Street - Suite 109
Bloomington, IN 47404-3732
Voice: (812) 856-4422
TTY: (812) 856-4421
Fax: (812) 856-4480
Comments: nca@indiana.edu
2001-03, The Trustees of Indiana University