In 2007 the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) entered into an agreement with the U.S. Access Board and National Park Service to investigate natural firm and stable surface alternatives when creating accessible pedestrian trails, including crushed stones, packed soil, and other natural material.
Trails provide opportunities for people to connect with the natural environment in a variety of settings and are places for all individuals, including people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities have the same desire to explore nature and physical barriers such as inaccessible surfaces and routes can hamper or even prevent opportunities to participate in the outdoor leisure experience for people with a disability. The purpose of the longitudinal surface study was to evaluate a variety of trail surface materials, and their ability to meet proposed accessibility requirements of firmness and stability from initial installation and maintenance over 51 months.
The research questions included:
Results from the longitudinal study of trail surfaces included 11 different surface materials installed at Bradford Woods a unit of Indiana University and located in Martinsville, IN. All surface materials displayed varying issue(s) over time that may influence the materials performance and therefore the need for possible frequent maintenance. The implications of quantitative and qualitative data are that a trail composed of an all‐aggregate material, when constructed to specified parameters, could be maintained with little to no maintenance as a firm and stable surface.
In addition to the longitudinal surface study, an electronic survey was conducted of trail managers throughout the United States. The purpose of the trails surface survey was to provide qualified professionals, resource specialists and operations staff of parks and other recreational properties with trails in the United States with descriptive and/or comparative information about the status of construction practices of pedestrian/hiker, natural surface trails in the United States. Despite a sixty‐one percent survey access rate of survey invitees, the overall completion rate was extremely low. Therefore, the results can be addressed in terms of a general trend in types of surface materials used. The majority of trail surfaces were natural materials that did not use soil stabilizers. However, information on construction practices and maintenance issues was limited in the responses received.
Published February 01, 2014
While notable advancements have been made, much is needed to break down the barriers and embrace greater inclusivity. Parks, programs, and leaders across the service need more education, guidance, support, and resources to create more welcoming experiences for a broad spectrum of audiences.
As a result of frequent inquiries regarding best practices from practitioners, NCA initiated this research study in order to ascertain which practices in the field of parks and recreation accessibility management exceed the minimum standards set forth by the ADA and other disability-related legislation.
The purpose of the study was to identify the perceptions of people with disabilities relative to program and physical accessibility in the National Park Service.
The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board), are issuing a final rule that amends the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines by adding scoping and technical requirements for camping facilities, picnic facilities, viewing areas, trails, and beach access routes constructed or altered by or on behalf of federal agencies. The final rule ensures that these facilities are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.