Beyond Accessibility

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice issued final regulations revising Titles II and III, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The full text of the 2010 standards can be found at www.ada.gov. Specifically mentioned is access to sports facilities, including courts, fields, and stadiums.

Something to consider is a focus group that will give an honest opinion on the facilities. What is being done well? What could be improved upon?

Ask athletes with disabilities what they think; they will have great ideas and expert view.

Often, budgetary considerations will mean you can’t implement every suggested change, but some ideas can be brought online without too much of an outlay of cash.

Reach out to groups that can help. The U.S. Tennis Association, which has a formidable wheelchair-tennis program, has compiled a grassroots guide for gaining support of local programs for mobility-impaired players. The following is a suggestion on possible ways to find athletes (and spectators) with mobility limitations:

• Veterans Administration hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, and Shriners hospitals. While most hospitals will not supply the names of patients for privacy reasons, it may be possible to have hospitals pass information to individuals who might be interested in wheelchair sports, or to set up a free informational session to talk about the sport.

• Physical therapists and occupational therapists. Make contact with state or regional chapters of professional associations serving therapists.

• Wheelchair dealers and durable medical-supply companies

• Schools (elementary, middle and high schools, and colleges)

• Churches

• Local media, including newspapers, radio, and TV. Talk to a reporter about your desire to start a program. It makes a good human-interest feature for the media, and publicizes the program.

• Outpatient clinics, support groups, and more.

Other possibilities might include local or state medical associations, amputee associations, and others.

In many districts, there is one rec group or council that includes athletes and spectators with mobility restrictions, as well as their families and friends, and seems to enjoy all the positive support of the community. Why not work to make that your group or council?

Note: The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) is a non-profit association helping designers, builders, owners, operators, and users understand quality sports-facility construction. The ASBA sponsors informative meetings and publishes newsletters, books, and technical construction guidelines for athletic facilities, including turf fields. Available at no charge is a listing of all publications offered by the Association, as well as the ASBA’s Membership Directory. Info: 866-501-ASBA (2722) or www.sportsbuilders.org.

Mary Helen Sprecher has been a technical writer for more than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association. She has written on various topics relating to sports-facility design, construction, and supply, as well as sports medicine, education, and health and industrial issues. She is an avid racquetball and squash player, and a full-time newspaper reporter in Baltimore, Md.

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