Wednesday, August 10, 2016
With summer winding down, and the fall semester bearing down on us, hopefully everyone had a fabulous summer. For many of us, summer vacation included a trip to a national park. I was lucky enough to spend some time in the Rocky Mountain National Park. One day I was walking along an accessible trail, and noticed 4 folks using wheelchairs within the first 100 feet of the trail. This particular trail also offers an accessible campsite. That got me thinking about how many trails in national parks are accessible. That led me to an internet search (yay Google) which led me to this report, All In! Accessibility in the National Park Service 2015-2020. The report explains the creation of a task force on accessibility which developed a "strategic plan with specific strategies on how to make parks and programs accessible to a broader range of audiences. These strategies are focused on actions needed to build momentum, augment capacity, and accelerate real improvements over the next five years (2015–2020)."
The parks are definitely not as accessible as they could be-or should be for that matter. "[T]he National Park Service is underserving people with varying abilities and their traveling partners. Without accessible parks, the National Park Service loses an opportunity to reach the widest possible audience and share a spectrum of experiences. This lost opportunity is a direct failure to carry out our mission. Both long- and short-term solutions are needed to build momentum and advance the program." The report sets out 3 goals for the NPS:
- "Create a welcoming environment by increasing the ability of the National Park Service to serve visitors and staff with disabilities."
"Ensure that new facilities and programs are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities."
"Upgrade existing facilities, programs, and services to be accessible to people with disabilities."