From the Grand Canyon National Park to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, NCA provides consultation on projects of various size and scope, all centered on the total inclusion of people with disabilities. NCA professional staff has expertise in the application of the accessibility standards, universal design, park planning, facility management, and policy change. Types of NCA consultation include:
- On-site consultation
- Facility walk-thrus
- Facility accessibility assessments
- Program assessments
- Policy evaluation
- Plan/drawing reviews
- Concept development and planning
Contact the NCA Executive Director for a proposal tailored to your organization’s needs.
NCA findings and recommendations lead Arlington Heights Park District to issue agency standards for universal design in new construction and alterations to existing facilities.
In 2004, the Arlington Heights (IL) Park District (AHPD) approached NCA for consultation. The resulting collaboration would evolve to an exemplary national model of accessibility assessment and transition planning for park agencies to follow.
“When we first began discussions with NCA on conducting the facility assessments, our staff only had a vague idea of what such a task would entail,” says Patricia Klawitter, AHPD Training and Safety Specialist. Klawitter was the agency point of contact on the project, which included accessibility assessments of 66 parks and program use spaces.
“The NCA staff not only conducted a thorough assessment of our facilities and produced a comprehensive report, but also educated our staff on the process and taught staff how to use a variety of resources to be able to answer simple questions about accessibility.” Upon request of AHPD, NCA created the Park and Recreation Accessibility Management System, a database tool to assist the agency with transition planning. NCA staff worked closely with Klawitter on the development and functionality of the tool.
The assessment process was made both easier and educational because of the professionalism and support of the NCA staff. I think that one of the most important things that the AHPD got out of the assessment process was the awareness of the resources available to all parks and recreation agencies through NCA. Since the assessment, the AHPD has contacted NCA with a variety of questions ranging from a simple, “where do I find” type of question to a more complex, “how do we handle” question with specific issues. “We are always able to get a helpful answer from the NCA staff (although it may not always be the answer we want to hear!)” jokes Klawitter. Additionally, NCA has been contracted for several plan reviews of new facilities.
As a result of NCA recommendations, the AHPD planning team began developing their own design standards for common projects like paths, seating areas at benches, and picnic areas. Use of the new agency design standards has become standard operating procedure for all new projects and retrofits to existing facilities. “Having been introduced to the concept of Universal Design by the NCA staff, we now strive in integrate the universal design concept into all of our new and renovated playgrounds and facilities. We are successfully moving towards completion of our ADA projects,” proclaims Klawitter.
Comprehensive assessments of programs, policies, procedures and facilities helps Buffalo Grove Park District with long range planning.
Neighbors to Arlington Heights, the Buffalo Grove (IL) Park District (BGPD) approached NCA shortly after the assessment work in Arlington Heights was completed. For this project, the park board of commissioners was interested in both a physical accessibility assessment of facilities, AND an assessment of programs, policies and procedures as well. Working closely with facility and program managers, NCA staff accessed 48 parks and program use spaces. The purpose of the project was to provide the commissioners and staff with a snapshot of the district’s current level of accessibility and recommendations for fully including people with disabilities in programs, services, parks, and facility use. Wherever possible, NCA staff provided recommendations beyond the minimum accessibility standards that strived to achieve universal design.
Executive Director, Dan Schimmel comments on the lasting relationship with NCA well after the project was completed in 2006. “We constantly look to the staff at the NCA for their guidance on accessibility, especially in the area of playground and facility construction and renovation projects. Not only do they advise us of the basic ADA requirements, they encourage to build universal design into the final plan. That way the facilities and parks are even more welcoming to all of our guests.”
NCA accessibility assessments of National Parks focus on the visitor experience.
Through a special task agreement with the National Park Service, NCA conducted accessibility assessments of 38 National Parks in 2010-11. A pilot project was initiated three years earlier at 12 small National Parks. The pilot was so successful that the project was expanded to the 38 small-to-mid size national parks for 2010-2011. Each accessibility assessment included an evaluation of programs and facilities that support the total visitor experience: visitor orientation, interpretive programs, exhibits, trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, historic sites, and other unique visitor experiences. Programmatic and physical barriers to people with disabilities were identified. NCA assessment teams recommended corrective actions through the development of work orders and cost estimates utilizing the NPS Facility Management Software System.
“The NCA assessments start with program access,” says NCA Executive Director Dr. Sherril York. “The NCA assessments aren’t all about measuring parking spaces, routes and bathrooms. It starts with program access. What is the program? What is the intended visitor experience? What is the story? What is it that park personnel want all guests to learn, experience and take with them as a memory from their park visit?”
“Our focus is on the visitor experience,” says Alice Voigt, NCA Accessibility Specialist, who leads the project. “While an AE firm might go in and only look at the buildings and structures, NCA focuses on the programs offered, and what corrective actions are necessary for visitors with disabilities to benefit from the total park experience.” In turn, park personnel are able to take the work orders and cost estimates and bundle them into specific requests for funding to improve access for visitors with disabilities.
Some of the parks assessed under this project and the pilot project include:
- Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP
- Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
- Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial
- Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
- Carl Sandburg House
- Catoctin Mountain National Park
- Cowpens National Battlefield
- Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park
- Eugene O’Neil National Historic Site
- Fort Necessity National Battlefield
- Fort Scott National Historic Site
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
- Friendship Hill National Historic Site
- Golden Spike National Historic Site
- Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site
- Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
- Jimmy Carter National Historic Site
- Johnstown Flood National Memorial
- Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
- Lincoln Boyhood National Historic Site
- Lincoln Home National Historic Site
- Manassas National Battlefield
- Montezuma Castle National Monument
- Petroglyph National Monument
- Roger Williams National Memorial
- San Antonio Missions National Historic Park
- Tuzigoot National Monument
- Weir Farm National Historic Site
- Whitman Mission National Historic Site
- William Howard Taft National Historic Site
NCA provides variety of services for consultation to the National Parks.
The National Center on Accessibility provides a variety of services and tiered levels of consultation for various federal, state and local parks. Services can include site visits and facility walk-thrus to identify preliminary needs for access improvements, review of policies and procedures, and facilitated transition planning. National Parks benefiting from NCA consultation include:
Flight 93 National Memorial
Fort Sumter National Monument
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Hopewell Cultural National Historical Park