Sherril York is the executive director of the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) at Indiana University. York has more than 25 years of experience in accessibility and disability in physical activity development, recreation, and adapted sports. At the NCA, she oversees research, technical assistance, consultation, and training programs that promote access and inclusion of people with disabilities in parks, recreation, and tourism. York shares her expertise with NRPA through her work on the Congress Program Committee, as well as her leadership on the Inclusion and Accessibility Network team.
York has provided consultation to the National Park Service, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the Central Park Conservancy in New York, to name just a few. She holds a Ph.D. from Texas Woman's University with an emphasis in biomechanics and adapted physical education.
What led you to volunteer your time in the area of inclusion (and related program development)?
Growing up in a family where family members with physical and intellectual disabilities experienced discrimination, I questioned why anyone is excluded from being a part of what everyone else is doing. Inclusion is simply a “no-brainer” to me. Whether as a family member, advocate, direct service provider, coach, assistive technology specialist, teacher, volunteer, or friend, the one constant I have experienced is that people with disabilities have the same wants and desires to experience life with choice and dignity as anyone else. This is why I have passion to affect change for equal access to those benefits and opportunities for everyone.
What do you see NRPA doing in the areas of inclusion and accessibility that you want to see more of? What kinds of inclusion programs or focus areas do you hope to see more of in the future?
NRPA is providing educational opportunities related to inclusion and accessibility through webinars, articles, and sessions at the annual Congress, but more can be done. I hope to see an emphasis on going beyond the accessibility minimums required by law to applying universal design principles in program development and delivery, as well as physical spaces—so that our programs are available, by design, to the greatest possible number of people.
What advice do you have to your peers among NRPA membership who would like to enhance their knowledge of inclusion issues? What kind of leadership do you see a need for?
Get involved! Get involved with citizens with disabilities in your local area to learn more about their interests, needs, and ways in which you can engage their input in improving access and opportunities for all people. Get involved with professional and allied groups for educational opportunities, which are abundant. This May, the ADA National Symposium in Indianapolis has a nine-session recreation track! Get involved with the Inclusion and Accessibility Network of NRPA to exchange ideas and ask questions of other interested professionals. We need people passionate for equality and access to get involved at all levels of the profession.