by MATP Staff Member Laura Hall
Winter seems to be finally over, and after months of my mobility being hindered by the snow, ice and cold, I am itching for some fun in the sun (as I suspect are most people who use mobility equipment). Here are just a few tips for recreational and fitness activities that are accessible for everyone.
1. Recreation and Fitness All in One
Adaptive sports can be a great way to get fit and have fun at the same time. Many local communities have adaptive clubs and leagues. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Michigan Adaptive Sports. Their summer program includes clinics for adaptive kayaking and water-skiing.
2. Know Your Access Rights
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines compliance standards for places of public recreation, like parks, trails, beaches, and sports fields) and state and local government locations. You may not know that since 2013, “Title III of the ADA requires that places of public accommodation (e.g., hotels, resorts, swim clubs, and sites of events open to the public) remove physical barriers in existing pools to the extent that it is readily achievable to do so (i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense).” Removing physical barriers means that pools and spas should have an accessible means of entry and exit. Oftentimes, this means they must have a pool lift , but there are other ways to create accessible entry/exits from pools as well. If you have questions related to the ADA and recreation or fitness locations, you can call the ADA Information Hotline through the Department of Justice at 800-514-0301 and receive information specific to your situation.
3. Explore what the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Has to Offer
EZ Launch Transfer System for kayaks and canoes at the Brighton State Recreation Area
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has an Accessibility Page that offers a wealth of information about accessibility in our state parks, campgrounds, fishing sites, beaches, and more. Travelling somewhere specific? The DNR Recreation Search Application allows you to search by activity, trail, park or location, or you can see all of the places with accessibility features.
4. What’s Happening in Your Own Backyard?
Many local communities have their own adaptive programs or inclusive events. Many Centers for Independent Living offer classes on gardening, painting, theater, wheelchair basketball, etc. and some have assistive technology for recreation, like recumbent bikes and handcycles. If cycling interests you, consider checking out Programs to Educate all Cyclists (PEAC). PEAC offers various cycling programs including their “2 by 2” program for people who are blind or have low vision
Also, watch for picnics and special events, sponsored by your local Center for Independent living and other disability organizations. ADA celebrations are often held in late July around the anniversary of the law’s passage.
5. Host your own inclusive event!
Sip and Puff Fishing Rod
Creating an inclusive, accessible event may sound daunting to some, but oftentimes it requires only minor modifications and accommodations. Putting forth the intention and effort is what you need to get started and knowing your guests and including them in the planning will help you pull it off. For more tips on hosting an inclusive event see our webinars “AT for your Accessible Picnic”, and blog post “Hosting an Epic Party: Inclusive Style”. More ideas on assistive technology for outdoor sports and recreation can be found on our webinar “Increasing Access and Participation in Outdoor Recreation” presented by Kathleen Laurin, Ph.D. from the University of Montana Rural Institute. Keep in mind that the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund offers loans for recreational equipment as well as functional equipment,
How are you planning to spend this summer? Will you use assistive technology for recreation and/or fitness?