What Is Your Agency’s ADA IQ?

October 1, 2015, Department, by Hayley MacDonell

The comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been mastered by many parks and recreation agencies. Accessible facilities, truly inclusive playgrounds, staff to support kids with autism in summer programs and other initiatives are happening regularly across the country.

That said, in some communities, ADA compliance remains a challenge. To help, here is a brief tongue-in-cheek quiz to measure your ADA IQ, with some suggestions as to which answer is the right answer. By the way, you guessed it — these are real-life examples.

We recently had an open house for a renovated pool, where we expanded lockers and added a sand volleyball and concession area. A reporter for the local paper who covered the open house uses a wheelchair. We:

A) Gave her the complete tour and got a great article out of the event.

B) Met her in the parking lot and reviewed pool plans with her, because the ramp slope leading to the pool deck was designed too steeply.

C) Met her in the parking lot and slow-walked to the pool deck, texting ahead to make sure pool staff had the lift out and independently operable

SUGGESTION: If you answered anything but A, you get no credit. Top-notch project management would make certain the ramp slope was compliant, and an Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO) knows to have the pool lift out and independently operable.

When the parent of a boy on the autism spectrum asked us to provide one-to-one staff during summer camp so he could register with his neighbors who don’t have disabilities, we said:

A) “The ADA does not require one-to-one staff.”

B) “Welcome to camp! Let’s schedule an assessment so we can determine how best to support your son in summer camp.”

C) “Your son must fit into a one-to-four staff ratio.”

SUGGESTION: The correct answer here is B.  You already know you can’t refer kids with disabilities elsewhere. In fact Title II explicitly uses the words “staff for program beneficiaries.” And despite what many believe, having a fixed maximum ratio, like one-to-four, won’t work either. It all hinges on the assessment.

How did you do? These questions are just some of the thousands from the bank of real tests that parks and recreation agencies have passed — or failed — with regard to accessibility and inclusion.

NRPA is happy to make a firm like Recreation Accessibility Consultants LLC (RAC) available at a discount to our Premier Members. With RAC President John McGovern’s understanding of Title II, familiarity with the design standards and long career in parks and recreation, his unique experience and perspective can help you pass the next ADA IQ test with which you are challenged. Click here for more information, email McGovern or call 224.293.6451.

Hayley MacDonellis NRPA’s Membership Programs Manager.