July 22, 2016

Amazing Summer Fun! 3 Handy Outdoor Resources for Individuals with Disabilities

Outdoor Accessibility for Everyone!

We don’t often think about accessibility when we plan an outing to enjoy the beautiful California outdoors. We take for granted the ease of getting out of our cars or off our bikes to explore a scenic ocean path or explore a forested trail.  For someone with a disability, a simple nature hike can be filled obstacles.  That’s why it is great when organizations or agencies plan ahead to ensure all trails are accessible for individuals with developmental disabilities.  UCP of Sacramento and Northern California has compiled a few helpful resources below that can help you explore the outdoors!

Everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors

It’s fair to say that everyone should have access to the outdoors to enjoy the beauty California offers visitors and residents.  Unfortunately, it’s often hard to know where to go if you, or someone you know, have mobility issues.

1.       Disabled Facilities Park Guide

We did a little digging and found a site called, A Wheelchair Riders Guide to the California Coast. The site offers some great information and should take some of the guess work out of planning your next outdoor adventure. Whether you’re planning a fishing trip, a hike, or a trip to the beach, this site will provide you with a good overview of where to go, what to expect, and what type of facilities you can find when you arrive.

2. Exciting Innovations in Accessibility for Disabled Individuals

chair beachBeach Wheelchairs
Some parks in California already offer an all-terrain beach wheelchair. These large wheeled chairs can be used on the beach without fear of sinking into the sand. Many California beaches offer these chairs free of charge to visitors to ensure all residents, regardless of their mobility issues, can experience the beach firsthand.  Discover locations of beach wheelchairs here.

Trail Wheelchairs
night chairWe recently heard about a new wheelchair design that helps individuals with mobility challenges get on the trails.  The wheelchair is designed with three wheels, handlebars, brakes and suspension that allows users to maneuver from side to side without tipping over.  It was designed by a Canadian man who had been confined to a wheelchair for 20 years after breaking his back. Called the “Park Explorer,” the chair, currently in its prototype phase, can be pushed or pulled and will soon be available at various parks in Canada.  Wouldn’t it be great for parks in California to follow Canada’s lead?

Greenway_Trail_sectionAccessible Trails
Finding a trail that is wheelchair accessible used to be nearly impossible. Curbs, rough surfaces, and skinny bridges made it impossible to explore many of our state’s parks and trails. Now trails are made to meet ADA Compliance, making getting outside much more enjoyable. New limestone trails, wider paths and management grades have been developed to ensure access for all. TrailLink is a great site that provides in-depth information on trails in States across the U.S with descriptions of trails, length of trail and a brief descriptions to help you plan your next outing.

3. State Parks Discount

If you have a permanent disability, The California State Park System will offer you a lifetime discount of 50% off all day use permits, camping and boat fees within the park system.  To apply for the discount you’ll need to fill out a form and send in a one-time payment of $3.50. Click here to find out more about eligibility requirements and to download an application.

In addition to the resources listed above, UCP’s website lists a variety of outdoor resources  you can refer to when planning your next  outdoor activity. From trails in the Sacramento region to programs, events and activities, you’ll find something  for everyone.  If you find we’ve left something out, contact us! We’ll add to our growing list.

It’s great to see so many organizations devoting time to developing accessible trails, products and resources to ensure individuals with disabilities have the tools they need to get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!  We encourage you to report back to us with pictures and a recap of the places you’ve explored, let us know your favorites and provide us with recommendations! We’ll share your stories and adventures on our Facebook page for everyone to enjoy!

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