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  Access Today: Fall 2001 issue

Access Today, Fall 2001    (PDF version - Fall 2001)

Inside this issue:

How we spent our summer vacation...

Summer 2001 Filled with New Accessibility Projects

It used to be that summer was a slow season for the staff of the National Center on Accessibility. Not these days! It appears that "slow season" is no longer scheduled on the calendar.

NCA conducted training programs throughout the spring and summer. Two courses were conducted for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Albuquerque and Phoenix. The courses concentrated on access to recreation environments and school settings. In addition, NCA conducted training in Minneapolis for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. USFW recently developed an accessibility instrument to assess facilities. The training focused on accessibility standards and methods to conduct facility assessments. In June, Chaco Canyon National Historic Park hosted an accessibility seminar which included representation from four other parks working with prehistoric Indian cultures. NCA provided accessibility consultation for the two-day seminar.

In August, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts hosted a national meeting of accessibility coordinators for performance venues. NCA staff kicked off the opening session on the principles of universal design. As a result of the national meeting, NCA plans to work with the Kennedy Center and participating groups on a research project identifying best practices in ticketing policies to performance venues.

This is a photo of Susan Ostby, Gary Robb and Amy Patrick conducting an accessibility assessment at Wildlife Prairie State Park outside Peoria, Illinois.
Susan Ostby, Gary Robb and Amy Patrick conduct an accessibility assessment at Wildlife Prairie State Park outside Peoria, Illinois.
Technical Assistance
In July, NCA/Indiana University, Clemson University and the University of Utah hosted a meeting of golf industry leaders to establish a National Alliance for Accessible Golf.

This summer, NCA also provided technical assistance under contract to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. IDNR recently acquired Wildlife Prairie Park outside of Peoria. The park features interpretive animal exhibits, trails, playgrounds, picnic areas and more than 100 bison and elk roaming the native Illinois prairie. NCA conducted an accessibility assessment of the outdoor recreation environment and provided recommendations to improve access for park visitors with disabilities. The recommendations will be incorporated into IDNR's multi-million dollar capital development plan for the park.

In collaboration with the University of Tennessee, research was conducted on the expectations of people with disabilities visiting national, state and local parks in the Smoky Mountain region. Findings from the research study will be published by NCA this fall.

From the Editor's Desk

Eleven years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and close to 30 years since the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, you might imagine the topic of accessibility to be a done deal. You may have expected accessibility compliance to have faded into the woodwork...either everything-programs and facilities are completely accessible at this point in time or no one cares about access anymore. Far from the case! During the last year at the National Center on Accessibility, we have found just the opposite to be true. More so now than ever before, in the last year we have witnessed a resurgence and reenergized commitment to optimizing access for people with disabilities in all types of programs, facilities and agencies. Consider the following examples:

In March, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources asked NCA to provide training for contract and grant-oversight staff. Long-committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the state's recreation areas, MDNR used the opportunity to retrain staff and provide them with further guidance on accessibility criteria that should be considered in the grant review process. Grant staff now have a better understanding of accessibility requirements under the ADA and can critically review grant applications proposing a new fishing pier or picnic area to assure the projects will be accessible.

Realizing the self-evaluations for programs and facilities conducted years before are out of date, both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service recently developed accessibility assessment instruments. The instruments not only provide a working document identifying barriers to facilities and programs, they will assist both agencies to better plan, budget and prioritize barrier removal. In addition, the National Park Service has allocated $5 million in accessibility improvements for the coming year.

Golf industry leaders have come together to form the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, concentrated on facilitating access to the game for golfers with disabilities.

Accessibility coordinators from performance venues throughout the United States gathered at the Kennedy Center to discuss methods to increase access for people with disabilities to the performing arts. The group has since committed to meeting annually.

We could go on and on with examples. I'm sure you have many of your own. In February, we will celebrate NCA's 10th anniversary. In so doing, we also celebrate the professionals, advocates and consumers that continue to work everyday to expand recreation opportunities for people with disabilities. Together, reenergized, we are making a difference.

Jennifer K. Bowerman, Editor - Access Today

NCA to Receive NTRS Award

The National Center on Accessibility will be presented with the Outstanding Organization Award by the National Therapeutic Recreation Society. The award is presented annually to individuals and organizations making exemplary contributions to improving access and promoting inclusion for people with disabilities in parks and recreation. The award presentation will be made during the National Recreation and Park Association Congress in October in Denver.

711 On-line Oct. 1

Using the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) will be as easy as three digit dialing starting October 1 when 711 will take effect nationwide. Both voice and TRS users will be able to place telephone calls anywhere in the United States without having to remember the previous 7-10 digit relay phone numbers. Under the new rules adopted by the FCC last year, 711 TRS dialing must be provided by all telecommunication carriers in the U.S. including wireline, wireless and pay phone providers. For more information on the new 711 requirement, visit the "disability issues" section of the FCC web site at www.fcc.gov.

DOJ Issues CD-Rom

The U.S. Department of Justice has developed a CD-Rom with ADA technical assistance materials. For more information visit the DOJ web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm.

Post-Martin Ruling Tests ADA's "Fundamentally Alter" Defense

The first case post-Casey Martin testing the rules of competition and the "fundamentally alter" test under the Americans with Disabilities Act was decided in August in Massachusetts. The plaintiff, Stephen Kuketz, a nationally ranked wheelchair racquetball player, signed up to play in the Brockton Athletic Club Men's "A" Tournament League. Kuketz, to play against footed racquetball players, insisted that he be permitted two bounces to hit the ball, rather than the one bounce given to all footed players. The manager of the club refused to allow him to play in the A league and instead offered that he play in the novice league against footed players and be given only one bounce or that they set up a wheelchair league if he could find other wheelchair players. Kuketz rejected the alternatives and filed suit.

"Relying on the analysis the Supreme Court used to determine that the use of a golf cart by Casey Martin did not fundamentally alter the nature of professional golf competition, this Court finds that the imposition of a two-bounce rule for wheelchair players who compete against footed players will fundamentally alter the nature of racquetball competition in the A League. While the essence of golf is hitting a stationary ball with a club, the essences of racquetball is hitting a moving ball before the second bounce with a racquet. Allowing one player two bounces fundamentally changes the nature of the game."

Interestingly enough, the United States Racquetball Association modified rules for wheelchair racquetball permitting the ball to be returned on the second bounce. The rules are implicit for wheelchair racquetball where both players are in wheelchairs. However, they do not address games where one player uses a wheelchair and the other is footed.

The Court also stated "The reason why wheelchair players need a second bounce is that they do not have the same speed and mobility in their wheelchairs as footed players have in their legs. Kuketz wants a second bounce to offset the disadvantage he suffers from being in a wheelchair, but it is impossible to determine whether the second bounce exactly offsets that disadvantage or leaves him with a slight advantage (or disadvantage) over certain players. Stated differently, if Kuketz were allowed to compete in the A League he requested and were to become champion of the league, no one could know whether he won because he was the superior player or because the allowance of two bounces more than offset his disadvantage in mobility."

Source: Kuketz v. MDC Fitness Corporation, Brockton Athletic Club, CA 9-0114-A. Superior Court of Massachusetts, at Plymouth.

Golf Industry & Disability Groups Meet to Form National Alliance for Accessible Golf

National Alliance for Accessible Golf logo.
Leaders from the golf industry and representatives of organizations serving people with disabilities and golfers with disabilities met on July 31-August 1, 2001 to form the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. The two-day meeting was facilitated by the National Center on Accessibility at Indiana University, the University of Utah and Clemson University. In attendance were representatives from the United States Golf Association, the Professional Golfers Association of America, the Ladies Professional Golf Association, the National Golf Course Owners Association, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the Club Managers Association of America, and the First Tee. Organizations and individuals representing golfers with disabilities included Falcon Rehabilitation, Golf Rx, the Association of Disabled American Golfers and the National Therapeutic Recreation Society.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf will include agencies, institutions, corporations and individuals committed to the inclusion of golfers with disabilities into the game of golf. The mission of the Alliance is to increase participation of people with disabilities in the game of golf.

An interim Leadership Council has been formed to establish the framework for the Alliance including goals and action items. Indiana University, the University of Utah and Clemson University will enter into a memorandum of understanding to provide the administrative support to the Alliance, while the Alliance will be physically located at the National Center on Accessibility on the IU-Bloomington campus. The overarching purpose of the Alliance is to develop solutions to critical issues relative to making the game of golf accessible to persons with disabilities. Goals to achieve this purpose, include:

  • Increase persons with disabilities understanding of the benefits of golf.
  • Increase the golf industry's awareness of the benefit of serving persons with disabilities.
  • Advance models and resources for persons with disabilities to learn the game of golf.
  • Increase awareness of the needs of golfers with disabilities among golf course owners and operators, teaching professionals, and related personnel.
  • Advance scientific understanding of the benefits of golf for persons with disability.
  • Assist the golf industry in resolving issues related to expanding services to persons with disabilities
  • Assembling and reviewing technical information for golf course managers, rehabilitation and recreation professionals, and golf professionals that lead to improved inclusive services.

More information on the activity of the will be available through the web sites of the National Center on Accessibility, and the USGA Resource Center for Individuals with Disabilities at http://golfcenterdisabilities.usga.org. A listserv that will allow all interested individuals to receive and send information regarding the Alliance is available for sign-up on the National Center on Accessibility web site.

Next meeting of the Alliance Interim Leadership Council is February 5-6, 2002 in Orlando. Hosted during the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Annual Conference.

NPS Allocates $5 Million to Enhance Accessibility in the Parks

by David Park, guest columnist
National Park Service

During FY 2001 the National Park Service allocated $5 million under a "special emphasis program" to address the backlog of projects needed to improve access for individuals with disabilities throughout the National Park System. The $5 million was committed from the Service-wide Recreation Fee Demonstration funds. The primary reason for creating this special emphasis fund was that many existing NPS facilities and programs were constructed or established prior to the development of accessibility mandates and standards. Consequently, many NPS buildings, facilities and programs are not as accessible as they should be to the Nation's 54 million citizens with disabilities.

Projects that were considered were additions or enhancements to existing facilities and programs that specifically improve access. New construction and major rehabilitation projects are required by law to be accessible and were not considered in this call. High priority was given to non-fee collecting parks and collecting parks with low revenues. Evaluation criteria for final selection included the following factors:

  • Projects that improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities to the wide range of opportunities offered to the visiting public and employees; to do what is feasible to enable them to receive as close to the same benefits as those received by others;
  • Projects that provide rehabilitation, upgrade or enhancements of existing infrastructure in order to improve accessibility;
  • Projects that provide rehabilitation, upgrade or enhancements of existing interpretive media, programs or equipment to improve accessibility;
  • Projects that are based on an assessment of park accessibility barriers, address high priority needs and provide assurances they will conform to current standards, regulations and guidelines; and
  • Projects that work in partnership with private and non-profit organizations to create a more accessible park experience.

The response to this call was enormous with over $25 million worth of projects submitted. Each of the seven regional offices initially reviewed the projects submitted within their regions and selected up to $2 million of requests for final consideration. A national review committee then pared that $14 million worth of projects down to the $5 million available. After careful consideration, a total of 120 projects were funded, for a total of $5,018,000.

Consequently, the breakdown of approved projects included: 67 projects related to buildings and structures; 16 projects related to outdoor recreation facilities; 35 projects related to enhanced interpretation and education programs; and, 2 projects related to improved transportation systems.

For more information on this program, contact David Park, NPS Accessibility Program Coordinator, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, Washington D. C. 20240.

A sample of NPS projects slated to improve access for visitors with disabilities:

  • Rebuild amphitheater at Fort Laramie
  • Upgrade interpretive opportunities at Boca Negra Canyon Rehabilitate accessible entrances to Ford's Theatre
  • Construct accessible entrance to USS Cassin Young
  • Install wheelchair lifts for trolleys at Lowell NHP
  • Develop tactile maps of Mojave National Preserve
  • Create battlefield audio tour at Kings Mountain NMP

Product Review

New power-assisted doors easily operable for all users

Power-assisted doors are often added in high traffic areas of facilities to provide ease of access through entry doors that often exceed the force requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. One of the long standing criticisms to the power-assisted door models has been that because of the tension on the door opener, they are difficult to manually open. New power-assisted door models by Stanley Doors, AmeriLite and others address the issue.

In addition to the common door activating buttons, pressure pads and sensors, the low-energy power-assist operating system offers a low force requirement making the door much easier to operate manually. The user activates the system with a slight push or pull of the door handle, after which the operating system takes over and opens the door to a full 90 degrees with no further exertion from the user. The opening of the door can be extended past 90 degrees if desired, simply by changing settings on the operating mechanism. The low-energy operating units open and close doors slowly, stop when an obstruction is encountered and are-designed with adjustable time delays. These units also work in conjunction with other operating units such as activation buttons and push pads.

Tim Ball, former Facilities Manager for the City of Bloomington, states "I was really interested in the new doors because they had wireless remotes, where you could open the door just about wherever you wanted to. So it gave me a lot of flexibility as far as to where to put the remote buttons to open the door; I have one on the outside, one on the inside and I have one at the greeter's stand inside the lobby of the city's municipal building. It takes no wiring, they are operated by a 9-volt battery with a little antenna on the door itself. They've actually worked quite well." Jim Lang, the current Facilities Manager for the City of Bloomington concurs, " They work quite well. People do like them."

Bob Tegart, Department Head for Facilities Management at the Von Maur Department Store in Indianapolis says the doors also have a lower occurrence of replacement, having only replaced one unit in the last three years. Tegart believes that most problems occur when people to try to assist the door during its closing cycle, however the operating units themselves are quite durable.

Tactile Exhibits: A Model Maker's Perspective

Making the Grade

Lift on Trolley Gives Visitors Opportunity to Experience Park and Garden Tour



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