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  Access Today: Winter 1998 issue

Access Today, Winter 1998

Inside this issue:

Golf court battle: Outcome has implications for recreation, parks & tourism

Casey Martin is a professional golfer. Casey Martin also has a disability. The Professional Golfers Association Tour is a private membership organization. They set the rules for participation in their organization’s primary function - - the professional golf tour. Casey Martin says he needs a golf car to be able to play because of his deteriorating right leg. He has a congenital disease called Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome. The disability, a congenital circulatory disorder, causes Martin to limp severely and to experience pain when required to walk.  The PGA Tour does NOT allow golfers to ride a golf car on its tour.
The Issues: The issues are both legal and moral. The legal issues will be determined by the courts. The moral issues will linger for years to come.  The legal issues to be determined:

  1. Is the PGA Tour subject to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  2. Does the PGA Tour have the sole right to determine the rules of play within its organization?
  3. Is walking an integral part of the game of golf and would allowing the use of a golf car fundamentally change the nature of the game or give the car rider an unfair playing advantage?
If the courts rule that the PGA Tour is a private organization under the definition of such by the Americans with Disabilities Act, then case closed. The Tour can do as it wishes with Casey Martin or anything else pertaining to the Tour. If the courts rule that the PGA Tour is subject to provisions of the ADA, then the battle is joined.
The PGA Tour’s objection to allowing the golf car to be used is based on the following:
  • Over 500 years of tradition of walking.
  • It would provide an unfair advantage to the golf car user, particularly on hot days.
  • Walking is an integral part of the game.
Counter points to the PGA’s argument:
  • People with disabilities have been discriminated against for over 500 years, but does that make it right?
  • Many golfers consider a golf car a disadvantage because it distracts their attention. Walking improves their focus on the next shot. In addition, there is no proven evidence that playing out of a golf car improves one’s golf score.
  • The act of playing golf actually starts when a golfer takes the stance and concludes after the ball is struck. What happens in between strokes is inconsequential to primary activity.  Additionally, golf cars are used in qualifying for the PGA Tour, on the Senior PGA Tour and in professional and amateur tournaments around the country. If walking is integral to the game, then what is it that all these other people are playing?

Many who support the PGA Tour’s position state that allowing Martin to ride a golf car will open the floodgates, and they further ask where will it stop? Examples such as what if someone in a wheelchair decides they want to play in the NBA come up.
Arnold Palmer, the legendary golfer, is quoted as saying I likened it to a scenario in football where the quarterback might have some physical disability, but he can take the ball from center and throw. But if you didn’t allow anyone to tackle him, then it would be a somewhat similar situation.  In fact, both cases are totally non-analogous. First, a fraction of one percent of the people who play golf have the skill to score well enough and consistently enough to even come close to qualifying for the PGA Tour, or professional golf at any level. Where are the floodgates?
The comparisons of a player with a disability that uses an assistive mobility device (wheelchair) on the PGA Tour to that of participating in the NBA or NFL are non-justifiable because walking and running are without question an integral part and fundamental nature of football and basketball.  Additionally, the ADA clearly suggests that separate programs may be necessary in order to provide an accommodation that is as effective as that provided to others.  This idea, coupled with the issue of safety led to the inception of specialty programs like wheelchair basketball.  Specialty wheelchair sports leagues recognize the safety issues of combining mobile players and wheelchairs in contact environments.  Thus, for the program to be effective, all players are put on an equal playing field, either all in wheelchairs or all standing.  The walking/riding component of golf is more detached during the actual play than it is in football or basketball.  Is walking part of the game in golf?  Or is golf the game of making the shot and scoring those totals?  These questions, specifically on the PGA Tour, will have to be determined by the courts.

Guidance for golf course owners & operators

In light of a court decision, does this mean park and recreation professionals are exempt from providing access for golfers with disabilities to the course during tournament or recreational play?
Reflect back at the legal issues in front of the courts.  The first issue is a question as to whether or not the PGA is a private club and thus exempt from the provisions of the ADA.  Park and recreation entities with golf courses and tournaments open to the public are covered under both Title II and Title III of the ADA, depending on whether or not the entity is a municipality-unit of state or local government (Title II) or a private business providing public accommodations (Title III).
The second issue is that of entity responsibility as a provider of public accommodations.  Both titles of the ADA require modifications to policies, practices and procedures to ensure equal opportunity to benefit from the programs, services, and activities of the entities.  The third issue is a question of walking as an integral part of the game within the PGA Tour itself.  This issue may not carryover to public golf courses in recreational and tournament play.  Thus, it is in the best interest of the golf course owner/operator to allow golf car use by those golfers with disabilities needing assistance in order to fully participate in the game.
Additionally for golf course owners/operators conducting public tournaments, the recently proposed United States Golf Association rules modifications will be of great benefit for planning tournament inclusion of golfers with disabilities.  The proposed rules modifications provide specific guidelines for play rules as related to the disability and adaptation of the golfer.  The USGA proposed rules modifications are available free of charge from the publishers: Golf House, Communications Department, Far Hills, NJ (908) 234-2300.  For a complete list of national resources for including golfers with disabilities, see the NCA web page at www.ncaonline.org.

NCA Research Director takes new position with VA Easter Seal Society

Dr. Edward Hamilton, Director of Research for the NCA since its beginning in 1992, has left NCA for a new position as Executive Director and President of the Virginia Easter Seal Society.  Dr. Hamilton, also an Assistant Professor at Indiana University, was instrumental in the founding and development of the Center. During his tenure with NCA, Hamilton focused his research in the areas of beach, swimming pool, golf and trail accessibility. In doing so, he created a subject pool of over 5,000 individuals with disabilities who were agreeable to participate in NCA research activities. His work for the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board on swimming pool accessibility is being used by the Board to develop national accessibility standards.  He is presently working with the Access Board’s Regulatory Negotiating Committee on standards development for outdoor areas.  Dr. Hamilton began his new position with the Virginia Easter Seal Society on January 2, 1998.

NCA position opening
The National Center on Accessibility is seeking qualified applicants for Director of Research. The Director of Research is responsible for developing and implementing the Center’s research program in the areas of accessibility to recreation, parks and tourism. In addition, the Research Director will work with other NCA staff on developing and implementing effective educational and technical assistance programs.  Interested parties should send a vitae and letter of application to Gary Robb, Director, National Center on Accessibility, 5040 State Road 67 North, Martinsville, Indiana 46151.

NCA playground web page now on-line

The National Center on Accessibility has a new web page featuring the most current available information on access to playgrounds.  The development of the NCA Playground Access web page was made possible through corporate sponsorship from national playground equipment manufacturers including GameTime, Miracle Recreation Equipment, Playworld Systems, and Little Tikes.  The NCA Playground Access web page features:

  • Background on the development of accessibility guidelines for playgrounds
  • Frequently asked questions regarding playground access
  • Planning considerations for the design of inclusive play environments
  • Recommended questions to ask manufacturers and sales representatives when selecting new equipment and surfaces
  • One agency’s commitment to the inclusion of children of all abilities in play environments
  • Links to other playground resources on the world wide web

See www.ncaonline.org/playgrounds/ for information on the issues and solutions to providing public playgrounds that are accessible to children with disabilities.

NCA conducts training for Blue Ridge Parkway

In October the National Center on Accessibility conducted its Retrofitting for Accessibility training course for personnel of the National Park Service’s Blue Ridge Parkway.  Approximately 37 staff from throughout the Parkway and sites like Mountain National Military Park, Guilford Courthouse Military Park, Carl Sandburg National Historic Site, the Denver Service Center, and Black Mountain Recreation and Park Department attended the 2 1/2 day course held at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.  As the training course was held at the education center of the Arboretum, staff from the Arboretum were also able to attend and benefit from the course.
John Gentry, Chief of Maintenance and Engineering for the Blue Ridge Parkway, attended an NCA training course in 1992; while Terry McElrath, Parkway Accessibility Coordinator, recently completed the NCA Trails Symposium.  Affirming the Blue Ridge Parkway’s commitment to access for visitors with disabilities, Gentry and McElrath worked together to bring NCA to Asheville and conduct training for a broad range of personnel.  NCA’s Director of Technical Assistance, Ray Bloomer, and Director of Education, Jennifer Bowerman, along with the National Park Service’s Dave Park presented training sessions on the needs of people with disabilities, legislation, accessibility standards, principles of universal design, recommended guidelines for
outdoor developed areas and historic sites, safety and planning concepts.
Agencies can contract NCA for specially tailored courses or participate as a host site for open registration courses.  Organizations interested in partnering with NCA for accessibility training can contact NCA at (765) 349-9240.


In the Fall 1997 issue of Access Today, the article ASTM, Access Board and Beneficial Designs partner to develop standards for playground surfaces incorrectly implied that work and energy are equivalent.  The work required to cross a surface, as measured by the wheelchair work measurement method, depends on the forces applied to the wheelchair pushrim and the distance traveled.  Energy refers to the oxygen consumed or the calories used by the wheelchair rider. The energy required to cross a surface depends on factors such as the movement efficiency and physical fitness of the individual.  For more information, please contact Beneficial Designs at (408) 429-8447.

Regulatory negotiation committee continues to meet on outdoor developed areas

The U.S. Access Board’s regulatory negotiation committee on outdoor developed areas continues to meet during the winter months to come to consensus on accessibility guidelines.
The committee is tentatively scheduled to meet January 31 through February 2 in San Diego and May 19-21 at Bradford Woods, Martinsville, Indiana.  These meetings are opened to the public and scheduled throughout the country.  Thus, park and recreation professionals affected by the proposed guidelines are encouraged to attend the proceedings when in their region.  See the Access Board’s web page for more information on future meetings and minutes from previous meetings at www.access-board.gov.

Children’s standards issued

On January 13, the U.S. Access Board published final rules for Elements for Children's Use. The rule can provide useful guidance when planning children’s environments specific to reach ranges, handrail and drinking fountain heights, along with space and other requirements for restrooms.  The rule becomes effective April 13, 1998.  After publication in the Federal Register, the rule can be downloaded at the Access Boards web page (www.access-board.gov) or by phone order to the Access Board at (202) 272-5434, indicate publication #S-30.

NCA Universal Design Course brings designers & interpreters together

In December, the National Center on Accessibility conducted its first training course specifically designed to bring designers and interpreters together in the accessibility planning process.  81 professionals attended NCA’s Universal Design ‘97: Methods to Include the Widest Spectrum of Users, People with Disabilities and Older Americans in Parks, Recreation and Interpretive Environments, in New Orleans.  Architects, landscape architects, civil engineers, exhibit designers, interpretive specialists, and program managers came together for the week-long course to discuss the principles of universal design, accessibility standards and guidelines, technologies, adaptations and designs for including visitors with disabilities.  Attendees participated in general sessions and a choice of architectural or interpretive tracks.
Architect and consultant, John Salmen of Universal Designers and Consultants presented on the principles for universal design, products to enhance access, and lodging accommodations. Salmen also discussed the issue of integrated accessible stadium seating and sight lines currently in litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Training sessions also addressed principles and techniques for maps and models, demonstrations, audio description, communication technologies, safety concerns, exhibit text, resources, and planning concepts.  Guest presenters for the training course also included Jan Majewski, Accessibility Coordinator for the Smithsonian Institute; Rebecca Fuller, Artist and Model Maker; Larry Goldberg, Director of the National Center on Accessible Media; Susan Spain, Landscape Architect for the National Park Service; and Dave Park of the National Park Service’s Accessibility Management Program.
Several New Orleans resources also spoke to training course participants on the specific needs of visitors with disabilities including Dr. Louaunne Williams-Gilyot of the New Orleans School District, Henry Brinkman and Wendy Edwards of the Louisiana Relay Service, and Becky Tuttle of LIFE of South Mississippi.
Susan Davenport, Interpretive Specialist, served as the National Park Service’s site host to this NCA training course, welcoming participants to the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Davenport also assisted NCA as a training host in site logistics and program preparation.
During the training course, participants had the opportunity to visit sites within the city and discuss accessibility issue for museum and park visitors.  Mid-week trips were made to the New Orleans Jazz and Mardi Gras Museums where access to interpretive exhibits was reviewed. Designers worked on planning and retrofitting a French Quarter visitor center that encompassed the principles of universal design.
Later in the week, interpretive specialists and designers grouped together to assess accessibility features and provide recommendations for other New Orleans visitor sites including the historic Hermann-Grima House, the Cabildo Museum, the Louisiana Children’s Museum and the Aquarium of the Americas.  Representatives from each of the New Orleans sites participated in the training course with hopes of bringing back course information and recommendations from the site visits to their agency for future accessibility project improvements.
Due to the immense success of this two-track training course, NCA will conduct Universal Design ‘98 in a similar format.  The course will be held in November or December, with the location still to be announced.  Look for further details on the upcoming course in future issues of Access Today or on the NCA homepage at www.ncaonline.org.

ADA notice kit available through NRPA

The National Recreation and Park Association, in conjunction with Access Source, has an ADA Notice Kit available for park and recreation entities covered by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Specifically, Title II of the ADA (35.106) requires a public entity to disseminate information to applicants, beneficiaries and other interested persons to inform them of the rights and protections against discrimination assured them by the ADA.

In a recent federal district court case, Clarkson v Coughlin, the court ruled that a public entity had violated the law by failing to provide these notices.  To meet the requirements of the ADA, it is essential that parks and recreation facilities providing notice, offer alternative notice formats accessible to people with disabilities (e.g. braille, audio cassette, rather than merely printed text).  Doing so ensures that communication with people with disabilities are as effective as communications with all others, as required by the ADA.
The ADA Notice Kit is designed to notify park patrons, visitors, and employees on the park and recreation program accessibility, reasonable accommodation, effective communication, employment and ADA resources.  In poster, braille, audio cassette and computer diskette formats, the notice states the Title II entity will not discriminate on the basis of disability.  Additionally, it states the entity’s commitment to the inclusion of visitors and employees with disabilities, and makes referrals for filing a complaint should the patron or employee feel they have been discriminated against.
The ADA Notice Kit is $59 plus $5.50 shipping and handling.  It can be ordered through Access Source, 1221 N Dearborn, Suite 210 South, Chicago, IL 60610.  Phone (312) 640-1438, Fax (312) 640-0894.


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