Summer is here and so is the fun: barbecues, sports, and picnics in the park! Not only is this a time for enjoyment and memories, but staying safe and accommodated are also important as well. Parks and places of recreation are required to adhere to ADA regulations, so you can do just that.
Public accommodations are defined by the ADA as goods and services provided by businesses. This includes parks! In fact, public recreation areas fall under the 12 categories of public accommodation, despite nature seeming like less than a business, parks are managed by cities and provide a service. Local and national government officials are required to plan for people with disabilities regardless of whether their park or green space was structured before disability protection laws were in place.
Some structures are built without accessibility, making places of natural beauty restricted to people with disabilities. This was the case of San Antonio’s Sunken Garden Theater, which did not adhere to ADA compliance rules until wheelchair ramps were installed. Due to collaborative efforts between the city and advocacy groups, access was made possible and future projects would take this element of public service to mind.
There are a number of ways to help make parks in your community more accessible to people with disabilities. The first step is contacting city officials who can help your case. Most of the time this is quite easy; however, in the case of a national park, bureaucracy can create wait times before your complaint is processed. An official should respond in a timely manner to an email, although you may need to escalate the issue with mail or phone calls. Joining an advocacy group is a great way to get heard through the power of numbers.
Access advocates helps individuals gain a greater understanding of their rights through better knowledge of ADA compliance rules. We possess the knowledge and tools necessary to make outdoor parks and recreation accessible for all. If you need extra resources for getting your voice heard, contact us for more information.