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Accessible Parks & Trails New York program launched

Christopher Reeves Paralysis Foundation to fund park and trail accessibility program.

From Parks & Trails New York
News from Healthy Trails, Healthy People Communities, July-August 2005

Parks & Trails New York has received funding from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation to launch its Accessible Parks & Trails New York program. Funds will be used to develop a cadre of individuals trained in trail accessibility assessment, create a database of trainers, and add park and trail accessibility information to Parks & Trails New York's website. In addition, the program will promote the existence and importance of trails accessibility data via electronic and print materials distributed to networks of trail users and advocates, community groups, and advocacy groups such as the Upstate Access Network and Independent Living Centers.

Trainings will utilize the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP), widely accepted as an objective and thorough methodology documents the actual conditions in outdoor, natural environments. UTAP was developed by Beneficial Designs, Inc., which received funding from the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation at the National Institutes of Health to develop a system to assess trails for visitors of all abilities. The UTAP system evaluates such criteria as land surface, trail width, grade, cross slope, obstacles, and accessibility of parking, rest rooms, and picnic areas, as well as signage for all, including the visually impaired.

Parks & Trails New York held its first UTAP workshop in conjunction with the Healthy Trails, Healthy Communities conference. Fifteen persons spent the morning in the classroom learning the terminology and tools needed for trail assessment. After lunch, the group traveled to the Mohonk Preserve where the group began measuring grades and slopes and recording information along one of the Preserve's trails. Most everyone agreed that as a result of the experience they would look at all trails with a new perspective. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation personnel, Carole Fraser, a certified Level 2 Universal Trail Assessment Trainer, and Jim Sessions, a Universal Trail Assessment Coordinator, conducted the workshop.

August 2005

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