Park and recreation agencies lead rewarding lives. Who else improves the quality of life for their communities, in a demographic world that is rapidly changing? This mission requires leadership, good listening skills, human and fiscal resources, no small plans, and embracing the state and federal statutes that mandate equity in the delivery of services.
That includes the comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title II of this law, effective in 1992, has been supplemented by design standards
that became effective March 15, 2012. The ADA, however, is about much more than the design of sites and facilities. It includes:
- Websites — Is the one you use to promote programs accessible to visitors who are sight impaired? The WCAG 2.0 guideline is your webmaster’s friend.
- Recreation programs — Do you know the eight-step inclusion process? Is your department prepared to provide support to individuals with disabilities in your camps, sports leagues, senior programs and art programs? Even in the new administration, in October, the U.S. Department of Justice issued three new settlement agreements regarding programs.
- Existing facilities — Access audits are mandated for park and recreation sites, other municipal sites and public right-of-way assets. Cities and counties risk the loss of federal road funds if a transition plan, a phased retrofit schedule, is not in place.
- New facilities and sites — Any new facility or site must be designed and constructed to meet the scoping and technical requirements of the 2010 Standards.
Don’t be the director who calls the city manager (or county manager or park district president) to say, “I just got an email saying the Browns filed a federal lawsuit against us for ADA violations.” Instead, be the director who shares with your community the positive news about your 10-year plan to retrofit existing sites, your accessible website and the way your staff will provide inclusion support.
NRPA resources include the accessibility practice of WT Group, formerly known as Recreation Accessibility Consultants. The WT Group provides ADA-related guidance with pace, precision and passion for park and recreation agencies. For more information, contact John McGovern.