Any hiker needs to know details about the trail being used, primarily distance and degree of difficulty. Other details like trail makeup, width, slope, cross-slope, resting pads, benches, and potential barriers provide a clearer picture for all hikers.
- Trailhead: Make sure a wheelchair can get onto the trail. When fences, poles, rocks or other barriers are set up, it can often prevent someone in a wheelchair from reaching an accessible trail.
- Makeup: Different kinds of materials may be used to create a firm surface. Pavement is not always the best answer. Crushed granite rock is one common example, a boardwalk is obvious, but a pathway made of recycled shredded tires may be the solution. Using natural and recycled materials is the sustainable and economic way.
- Non-Slip Surfaces: Use overlying metal or rubber net.
- Resting Areas: Level, resting spaces or pads are placed next to benches as a wheelchair spot, as well as when going up or down a steep incline over 5%. They can be used to move out of the way of other hikers or to take photos.
- Handrails: A border or handrail along the trail to guide the path for those with limited vision, and to generally direct all people where to go and not go, which leads to land preservation.
- Obstacles: Be clear and direct about the trail and terrain, like if there’s excessive sand, tree roots, water wash-outs, barges, acute cross-slopes, large gaps, or transitional lips that may hinder or slow down access. People can have fun exploring how long they can go. Plus, there are special chairs and adaptions that can enable people’s further explorations.
B. Overlooks + Scenic Points of Interest
- Parking: Have a designated spot marked with pedestrian lines to the overlook. This will also help when it’s crowded as people won’t block the walkway route to the overlook. It also indicates that the overlook has access.
- Many Overlook Points: Start by spacing out overlooks with accessibility to encourage sightseeing variety. Lumping only a close together group of overlooks with all the park’s accessible features appears poorly planned and does not showcase the wildlife variety.
- Platforms: The starting point is to be flush with the surface (no lip or step). The barrier-free path needs a level resting pad at the top; handrails indicate edges.
- Benches: Provide at least one bench in the viewing area, and if it’s a large area, consider adding more than one. Be sure there is space next to one of the sides for a wheelchair.
- Displays: Angle description boards to prevent water concentration and to maximize viewing. Information is to be visible from a person in a wheelchair. People often need to get very close to read info, so pay attention to the surface it rests on and make sure it’s smooth so someone in a wheelchair won’t get their wheels stuck. Have audio described videos and informational displays as well as tactile displays. Use screen readers, barcodes, apps and other technology that allow people to get the information they need about the park’s points of interest. See previous sections.
- Parking: Typically, near main restrooms or other points of interest, such as the location of a beach wheelchair.
- Restrooms: In addition to toilets, access to changing area and/or shower if provided. (See previous sections for more info and examples.)
- Promenades: Visitors want to know length, points of interest and any barriers. Let visitors know the promenade’s makeup. All paved? Main strip and then firm, packed surface? Is the promenade basically flat or are there areas to be aware of? (Incline cautions vary depending on the mobility device that’s used and the person controlling it.)
- Beach Mats: In addition to walking along the beach, some will want to go onto the beach to spend the day. Or perhaps the ocean’s bluff is blocking the view, and a beach mat can be used so people can reach that high point to see and enjoy the ocean’s surf.
- Beach Wheelchairs: Having a beach wheelchair locked up onsite is great advertising, and is to include clear directions on how to reserve, and thus unlock, the beach wheelchair.
D. Fishing Piers
- Pathway: Barrier-free, firm pathway from designated parking spot to pier.
- Borders: A border gives the edge a clear reference point; handrails are common. Different types of openings for fishing poles.
- Maintenance: If there is one fishing pier in the entire park that is accessible, or in the whole area, let’s make sure it stays accessible.
E. Boat Docks
- Ramp: The ramp to the boating area is anti-slip material.
- Parking: Have a designated handicapped spot for just the boat dock/launch.
- Toilets: The closest restroom is to have wheelchair access, and a place to shower off and change.
- Feature and Function: Incorporate an accessible kayak launching system.
G. Horse Riding
- Purpose: The most important aspect here is the platform to get on and off the horse.
- Platform: A handrail is important for balancing while getting on and off a horse.
- Safety: Rubber mats prevent slipping in most weather conditions, including hot days.
- Parking: Include a designated handicapped parking spot that’s for horse trailers.
- Parking: Designated handicapped parking is closest to the main gate or the area of the field that had been modified for access.
- Pathways: A target is reachable by the archer from the shooting position by wheelchair. If on a field, a barrier-free, firm path is required to reach target. Consider the topography and level of saturation in the area.
- Aiming: The shooting platform is as wide as a platform on a trail, firm and level. If the area has full sun, install a canopy for shade either over the shooting platform or in a separate resting area.
- Resting Area: The resting or picnic area has an accessible picnic table with an extended end, as stated under picnic table guidelines. If toilets are located in this area, then one is also wheelchair accessible.
- Path: Barrier-free access to the playground from designated parking, including to the interior of the playground area.
- Boarder: If there is a border, make sure there’s an opening or a ramp in and out of the playground area. This would be not just for the children to access but for parents as well.
- Models and Types: Barrier-free or partially barrier-free jungle gyms and other playground equipment are available in many different shapes, sizes and themes.
J. Ranger-Led Programs
- Marketing: If the ranger-led program is accessible and advertised in the visitor center, include the universal symbol to indicate or at least to encourage further inquiry about specific access details at the main desk before committing and/or signing up. People working the desk are to be informed of the level of access of the ranger-led programs and potential or possible barriers.