Access Today, Summer 2003
(PDF version -
Inside this issue:
NCA Conducts Research on Assistive
Devices for Beach Use
The use of an adapted beach wheelchair is one way to provide
access over the sand to the water. There are a number of assistive
devices currently on the market, however beach operators are often
left with the question as to which design or model is best, most
cost effective and preferred by people with disabilities.
|Devices tested during NCA research study from
left: the Beach Wheeled Chair, Debug, Landeez and Surfchair.
In February, the National Center on Accessibility conducted a research
study on the various beach wheelchairs presently on the market.
Typically, beach wheelchairs take the structure of standard wheelchairs
with some adaptations for beach use such as wider tires and water
resistant seat and frame. This study picks up where NCA’s
first research study in 1993 leaves off, looking at usability and
independent operation of these devices. People with mobility impairments
tested a variety of devices in Daytona, Florida. Each individual
transferred to a beach wheelchair and took it for a “test
drive” across the beach surface. After using the beach devices,
individuals participated in focus groups to determine user preferences
and drawbacks for each design. Overall, while the devices travelled
better through sand than standard wheelchairs, not many of the beach
devices facilitated independent use, as was the finding during the
first study in 1993. The majority of devices were difficult to propel
across sand independently or with limited mobility, requiring the
assistance of another individual to push the chair from behind.
The executive summary for the research study will be available later
this season. It is hoped that the NCA research findings will assist
product vendors in designing assistive devices based on the preferences
of people with disabilities. In addition, the research findings
will assist beach operators as they decide which types of devices
to purchase based on user preferences.
|A research study volunteer transfers to a beach
From the Editor’s Desk
NCA & DBTAC’s Team Up to Discuss Access to Recreation
This April the National Center on Accessibility hosted the 10 regional
Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTAC) in
Indianapolis to discuss access issues to recreation and outdoor
developed areas. The 2 1/2 day workshop included a field visit to
Bradford Woods where DBTAC trainers and technical assistance specialists
toured the trails, beach, camping area, challenge course, and universally
designed amphitheater to learn more about research findings and
challenges faced by recreation providers and land management agencies.
At the beach, DBTAC staff were able to test some of the newest temporary
beach surfaces now on the market. While out on the trail, they learned
more about how the existing terrain affects the application of the
proposed trail accessibility guidelines and the conditions for departure.
|Gary Robb (center) and DBTAC staff discuss the
conditions for departure on an existing trail.
Session topics also included policy and procedure issues and enforcement
in recreation agencies, new trends and research on playgrounds,
amusement rides, swimming pools and golf. In addition to NCA instructors,
guest speakers included Dr. Edward Hamilton, Roanoke College; Kay
Ellis, Bureau of Land Management; David Park, National Park Service;
Carol Stone and Jim Rogers, both of Bradford Woods.
The workshop concluded with an interactive discussion on new initiatives
and future opportunities for the organizations to work together
to further support the training, research and technical assistance
needs of park and recreation agencies and create greater awareness
amongst people with disabilities for advocacy to recreation areas
within their communities.
On behalf of the National Center on Accessibility, we extend our
sincere gratitude and appreciation to the DBTACs for their interest
in participating in this workshop. We look forward to the continuing
dialogue and developing future opportunities for collaboration.
In parks and recreation,
Jennifer K. Skulski, Editor - Access Today
Discover Camp Resource Available
NCA has partnered with Bradford Woods and the National Center on Physical
Activity and Disability to publish a new booklet for parents of children
with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses selecting a camp for their
child for the first time. The 26-page booklet includes considerations
and questions for parents to use during the camp selection process.
The resource guide is based on interviews with parents and the camp
staff's experiences with planning camp programs for children with
and without disabilities, working with parents sending their children
to camp for the first time, answering their questions, addressing
their concerns, and calming their fears. Discover Camp is available
through NCPAD to parents, hospitals, and resource organizations.
NCA & UIC Partnership Extends NCPAD
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has renewed a 5-year
grant to support the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability
(NCPAD). The Center is a collaborative partnership of the University
of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center on Accessibility and
the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. NCA had developed monographs,
fact sheets and distance learning programs in addition to providing
technical assistance during the first 4-years of implementation
of the project. NCA activities for the coming year include creating
the Discover Camp resource guide as a web site for parents.
Training Tailored for Agencies In
NCA staff continue to travel during the “off season”
to meet the training needs of various recreation providers and land
management agencies. NCA instructors consult with each agency to
develop a program agenda based on the knowledge base of participants
(new to accessibility or advanced) and the unique access issues
for the agency. NCA recently provided training to Region 8 of the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
NCA will provide training for the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation in October.
National Alliance for Accessible
Golf Forms Non-Profit
This winter, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf was incorporated
in the State of Indiana and received 501(c)(3) designation by the
IRS. The Alliance was formed in 2001 as a collaborative organization
of the golf industry and disability community. For the immediate
future, the Alliance will continue its affiliation with Indiana
University via an External Agency Agreement and will continue to
be housed at NCA.
Project GAIN Underway
|Dave Compton (right) talks with a golfer about
club use during the Chicago kickoff of Project GAIN.
Four cities have launched Project GAIN this golf season, Salt Lake
City, Sacramento, Baltimore and Chicago. In addition, the City of
Las Vegas will kick off in July. Project GAIN (Golf: Accessible and
Inclusive Networks) is a national research and development project
funded by the United States Golf Association Foundation, the PGA of
America Foundation and the PGA TOUR. The project, one of the first
inititiatives of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, is designed
to be a comprehensive community based program, using the game of golf
as the primary medium, to maximize opportunities for inclusion into
the fabric of the local community by people with disabilities. www.accessgolf.org
NCA Offers New Distance Learning
The National Center on Accessibility has long been committed to
using technology to make training available at a distance. Through
partnerships with the National Park Service and the National Center
on Physical Activity and Disability, several distance learning programs
are now available this season or in development for future release.
Introduction to the 2002 Recreation Rule
Streaming Video Program via the Web
In September 2002, the U.S. Access Board issued the final rule
for accessibility guidelines for recreation facilities for inclusion
in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.
The new recreation rule covers amusement rides, boating, fishing,
golf, miniature golf, sports facilities and swimming pools. During
this streaming video program Peggy Greenwell and Bill Botten, of
the U.S. Access Board, highlight the major provisions of the newly
released Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities. The
web-based program is divided into 10 topical segments from 4 to
20 minutes in length. This distance learning program was designed
to give professionals and consumers the opportunity to learn about
the new rule directly from the Access Board staff through a widely
available medium. The program is free and available for viewing
at your leisure through the use of Real Player.
|The webcast has been archived and is also
available through www.ncaonline.org
for viewing using RealPlayer.
Research to Practice
Streaming Video Program via the Web
Another NCA web-based streaming video program, this program highlights
NCA research findings in golf, beach access, trail surfaces, swimming
pools and visitor expectations. The program originally broadcast
as a live webcast in June 2001. The webcast has been archived and
is also available through www.ncaonline.org
for viewing using Real Player.
Products to Improve Access to Parks & Recreation
This National Park Service funded project walks park staff through
the critical considerations before purchasing products specific
to improving access. The self-paced CD-Rom reviews considerations
for recreation products such as picnic tables, benches, grills,
trail and beach surfaces. In addition the program highlights case
studies and includes an online catalog of vendors and available
products. The CD is scheduled for release later this fall.
Access to Trails
Another National Park Service funded project, this distance learning
module highlights the proposed accessibility guidelines for trails,
conditions for departure, and maintenance considerations. In addition,
the CD contains monographs and resources for technical assistance.
This CD will also be released later in the fall.
Making the Grade
Disney Introduces Handheld Captioning
How do you caption a moving amusement ride? Use technology. That's
what the folks at Walt Disney World Resorts did.
|Handheld Captioning System introduced by Walt
Effectively communicating the story and message of moving amusement
rides has long been a challenge for the amusement park industry.
In many moving narrative attractions, such as Peter Pan's Flight,
it's a small world, Pirates of the Caribbean and Buzz Lightyear's
Space Ranger Spin, fixed captioning systems are not always effective
as the ride is often moving too fast to read the captions. So the
Disney engineers put wireless technology to work and developed a
synchronized handheld captioning system. Upon entering the Magic
Kingdom, Epcot or Disney-MGM Studios, guests can check out a handheld
captioning device. (A $100 refundable deposit is required.) The
portable system is similar to a personal digital assistant (PDA).
In locations throughout the parks, mostly the narrative moving attractions,
the wireless handheld receiver displays the text narration corresponding
to that location.
"Our challenge was finding a way to deliver captions in
narrative attractions where fixed captioning systems weren't an
option," said Greg Hale, vice president of Safety, Accessibility,
and Advanced Technology for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "When
we couldn't find an 'off-the-shelf' solution, we developed our own
technology. We are now exploring opportunities to make this technology
available in venues outside of theme parks, where it could provide
synchronized captioning, audio translations and other services in
a wide variety of applications such as museums, movie theaters,
tours and transportation."
The service debuted on Dec. 5, 2001 -- the 100th anniversary of
Walt Disney's birth -- at the "Walt Disney: One Man's Dream"
attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios. Handheld Captioning is currently
available at twenty Walt Disney World® attractions. Disney announced
plans to add at least ten more attractions at the Walt Disney World®
Resort and begin testing this service in at least four attractions
at the Disneyland® Resort during 2003.
"With our Handheld Captioning program, Disney has once again
shown its commitment to provide an outstanding experience for our
guests with disabilities," said Al Weiss, president of the
Walt Disney World® Resort. "The program perfectly illustrates
our willingness to meet challenges with creative, innovative solutions
for exceptional guest service."
For additional information about the Walt Disney World® Resort
services for guests with disabilities: Walt Disney World® Resort
Information, 407-824-4321 (voice), 407-827-5141 (TTY),
Ramp Rider: A Tale of Two Installations
Water fluctuation and steep land forms create challenges for designers
planning access to docks and piers. The Ramp Rider is an innovative
product designed to provide access to these otherwise inaccessible
areas. The Ramp Rider is a relatively new product sold by Redd Team
Manufacturing; a company that also makes ramps to stages and facility
entrances. The Ramp Rider system consists of a specially designed
carrier car positioned on a parallelogram rail system. Capable of
carrying up to 500 pounds, the Ramp Rider transports a person from
an upper landing to a floating pier while maintaining a slope of
1:12 or less. The car remains level while descending or ascending
a slope and comprehensive safety components stop the car from operating
when conditions are unsafe. The installation usually takes two days
and is performed by a local elevator company. The Ramp Rider was
invented by Roger Taylor of Marina Accessibility Products, Inc.
Redd Team Manufacturing acquired the product in 2002 and Taylor
continues as a consultant. Installations began in the late 1990’s
and the past three years have seen a number of installations on
both coasts of the U.S. Customers include city, state and federal
government properties as well as private entities.
|The Ramp Rider in use at Long Wharf Pier.
The Marina at Pier 39
One of the first Ramp Rider installations was made at the Marina
at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Pier 39 is a 45-acre pier converted
from shipping and receiving cargo to retail shops and an outdoor
festival marketplace. The marina also has 325 berths for live-aboard,
recreational, and commercial boats. Although the marina has gangways
to access the pier, the water fluctuation causes these gangways
to exceed maximum accessibility requirements for accessible routes.
A Ramp Rider system was purchased and installed at the marina in
1999 to enhance access to the pier for people with disabilities
who may be uncomfortable on steep gangway slopes. Overall, the owners
view the Ramp Rider as a well-built, unique, and safe device. In
terms of operation, marina staff indicates that the Ramp Rider requires
more maintenance compared with its low frequency of use. However,
they were not surprised by the need for maintenance, as they regarded
this installation as a prototype and some glitches with the system
The most prevalent challenge with the Ramp Rider at Pier 39 marina
occurs when the car is not returned to its charging station. The
Ramp Rider must remain on the charger to ensure uninterupted operation.
On the subject of safety, the product is required to meet federal
and state safety requirements for elevators. To this end, the Ramp
Rider was engineered with a comprehensive system of safety components
and back-ups. In response to user and customer feedback, Redd Team
Manufacturing is developing a solar panel system for facilities
that experience problems with users not returning the car to the
Long Wharf Pier, New Haven
On the East coast, the historic schooner Amistad finds its home at
Long Wharf Pier in New Haven, Connecticut. (www.amistadamerica.org.)
The schooner is open for educational and youth programs, public schools
and other charter programs. Amistad’s home berth is the 400-foot
Long Wharf Pier managed by the City of New Haven. Installed in 2000,
this Ramp Rider is 30- to 40-feet long and cost $80,000. The Ramp
Rider was installed to adjust with the floating dock to maintain a
slope of 1:12.
|The Ramp Rider located on far right gangway at
Long Wharf Pier, with the Amistad in the foreground.
Peter Shmigelsky, Government Facilities Asset Manager for the City
of New Haven, was involved with the installation of the Ramp Rider
and continues to monitor the device’s use and maintenance.
In agreement with the information provided by Pier 39 representatives,
Shmigelsky indicates that the device requires maintenance to ensure
operation as it is located outside. The safety system is also recommended
for periodic inspection. An added safety feature, the safety control
will not allow the Ramp Rider to run if there is snow or ice on
the track. Additionally, if the device is misused or is not perfectly
aligned with the tracks, the safety mechanism will kick in and stop
the car from moving. Staff at both Long Wharf Pier and Pier 39 believe
the Ramp Rider to be an extremely safe device as there have been
no safety problems or “runaway” cars. Originally, the
Ramp Rider at Long Wharf Pier was left on so that a key was not
needed by the user for access. This meant the device was left open
to vandalism and misuse, causing the car to jump the track which
stops its forward progression. The current policy at Long Wharf
Pier requires a patron to call ahead to arrange use of the Ramp
Rider. Crew members of the Amistad as well as city staff, have keys
to operate the Ramp Rider when necessary.
While the Ramp Rider has received recognition from the California
Governor’s Award for Excellence in Universal Design and Technology
(2001) and the Innovation Award of the 1997 International Marina
Trades Exhibit and Conference, it is important to note that the
system should not be considered as a replacement of accessible construction
techniques. Facility managers and designers must meet accessibility
guidelines for boating and fishing areas as defined in the U.S.
Access Board’s Recreation Facilities Final Rule. The Ramp
Rider may be considered in addition to designing accessible facilities,
to further improve the opportunity for site use by people of varying
abilities. The Ramp Rider may also be a consideration for achieving
program access in existing facilities.
For more information on the Ramp Rider, contact: Raymond Moseley
Redd Team Manufacturing, Inc, 6587 S. R. 21, P.O. Box 658, Keystone
Heights, FL 32656. (800) 648-3696, www.reddteam.com
Access Today is a free publication distributed by NCA with
the purpose of updating and informing people in the recreation field
of current developments in the area of accessibility. Access Today
is available in alternative formats, back issues are also posted
on the NCA web site.