Texas State Parks and Wildlife Department Hosts NCA for Access to Parks and Recreation Training

Staff from the National Center on Accessibility and the Eppley Institute traveled to Austin, Texas, during the first week of September to present a 3-day training workshop to 50 staff from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (PWD). The training, an introduction to accessibility in parks and recreation settings, included classroom instruction as well as field-based activities where attendees had the opportunity to apply accessibility concepts and techniques. In addition to learning about the legal requirements and technical standards that guide the construction and alteration of buildings and facilities, PWD staff were taught about how to make their agency’s programs and services accessible for people with a range of disabilities. This includes providing program materials in alternative formats such as Braille and large print and creating audio versions of printed materials. It also requires the provision of auxiliary services such as sign language interpreters, assisted listening devices, and captioning as well as ensuring an agency’s policies and procedures do not discriminate against people with disabilities.

A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff member measures the clearance around a picnic table as part of the “classroom in the field” portion of the training.

To illustrate the importance of program access, workshop participants heard from a panel of people with disabilities who are active in their communities and regularly engage in recreational and leisure activities. This group of personal advocates discussed how their individual disabilities (including being blind, deaf, autistic, and physically disabled and using a wheelchair, and having traumatic brain injury) affect their access to and use of parks and recreation facilities and programs. Each panel member emphasized the importance of parks and recreation venues in their personal lives and encouraged the trainees to embrace the positive impact they can have by improving access to their facilities and programs.

A trainee measures the slope of the ramp into a playground area at McKinney Falls State Park as part of the Access to Parks and Recreation workshop.

Access to Parks and Recreation is one of the many training workshops and courses offered by the National Center on Accessibility. To learn more about this course or other professional development opportunities available through NCA, contact Ray Bloomer, Director of Education and Technical Assistance, at rbloomer@indiana.edu or 812-856-4422.

Workshop participants practice how to assess a picnic area as part of the field activity.