The National Center on Accessibility (NCA) was established at Indiana University in Bloomington in 1992. With support from the National Park Service, NCA promotes access for and inclusion of people with disabilities in parks, recreation, and tourism.1 Through research, training, technical assistance, and consultations, NCA supports the principles of universal design and inclusion practices in their suggestions for professionals in the recreation industry.
The National Center on Accessibility’s research, often in collaboration with university research departments, focuses on discovering the needs and preferences of people with disabilities, suggesting practical solutions and shaping policies and standards.2 Some issues researched have been concerning accessibility on beaches, campgrounds, sports arenas, golf courses, trails, swimming pools, and playgrounds.
Their playground study, First Year Findings on the Accessibility of Playground Surfaces Published, which was released in 2011, involved analyzing poured-in-place rubber, engineered wood fiber, rubber tiles, and hybrid surface systems of 25 newly constructed playgrounds. After 12 months they concluded that “there is no perfect playground surface.”3 The study, funded by the U.S. Access Board, will continue to assess the surfaces over a three year period.
The National Center on Accessibility offers training with interactive sessions concerning inclusive issues in recreation. Recreation professionals, architects, landscape architects, coordinators, administrators, advocates, and consumers have attended trainings at various locations throughout the country including Indiana University. Distance learning sessions are also available through satellite transmissions, videoconferencing, or the Internet.
Technical assistance from the National Center on Accessibility is related to issues of compliance with legislation and existing accessibility standards. Consultations address planning issues, program assessments, and on-site facility assessments.
Besides the National Park Service, the National Center on Accessibility has partnered with government agencies, such as the U.S. Access Board, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and NASA.4 They also work with various park districts and university research departments.
- 1. “About NCA.” National Center on Accessibility. < http://www.ncaonline.org/?q=node/8 > 7 July 2011.
- 2. “NCA Research.” National Center on Accessibility. < http://www.ncaonline.org/?q=node/75 > 7 July 2011.
- 3. “News Release: First Year Findings on the Accessibility of Playground Surfaces Published.” National Center on Accessibility. < http://www.ncaonline.org/?q=node/1448 > 7 July 2011.
- 4. Op.cit., “About NCA.”