September 15, 2023
Source: Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Crucial Resource for Making Public Lands Accessible for Those Living with Paralysis and Other Disabilities
Today, in observance of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation launched the ‘Outdoors for Everyone Campaign,’ an initiative to ensure the great outdoors is equally accessible and inclusive for all people – including those living with paralysis, their families, and caregivers.
While the beauty of nature is a universal right, the great outdoors and accessibility are oftentimes in conflict. The Reeve Foundation is working closely with parks and outdoor-based organizations, outdoor experts and people living with paralysis to provide and inform resources, tools and guiding factors surrounding real-life challenges wheelchair-users face in nature and ways to solve these issues.
As part of this initiative, the Reeve Foundation’s highly trained Information Specialists are educating those in the paralysis community about accessible parks, what to look for, and how to prepare for their journey into nature. The Foundation’s Information Specialists are dedicated to helping anyone, from newly paralyzed individuals and their family members to persons who have lived with paralysis and mobility impairments long-term.
Alongside the Information Specialists and outdoor-based organizations, the Reeve Foundation has also created an ‘Accessible Outdoor Checklist’ for parks, recreation centers, and partners to ensure people living with paralysis and other disabilities are able to enjoy the outdoors, because public lands are for everyone regardless of ability. The checklist serves as an educational resource with recommendations and suggestions on how to strengthen accessibility and inclusivity throughout the entire outdoor experience.
“Everyone of all abilities deserves to experience the great outdoors,” said Mark Bogosian, Director of Engagement at the Reeve Foundation. “The Reeve Foundation’s ‘Outdoors for Everyone’ initiative aims to address the preventable limitations for those impacted by paralysis. By working with parks and outdoor recreational organizations on ways to improve accessibility outdoors, we hope this will encourage those in the community and their caregivers to spend more time in nature.”
Recommendations from the checklist address:
- Before Arrival: What kind of accessibility information should be available on a website and map; Parking and arrival/drop-off area information
- Arrivals and Departures: Details on accessible parking spaces; Signage to ensure a safe passenger drop-off/pick-up for wheelchair users; Trained staff assistance
- On the Trail: Trailheads with detailed information; recommendations on trail design and maintenance
- Glossary: Including key terminology from outside sources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Accessibility Guidebook, U.S. Access Board’s Outdoor Developed Areas Guide, Yosemite’s National Park Accessibility Guide and more to ensure a comprehensive perspective
The Reeve Foundation is partnering with the following parks and outdoor-based organizations to kick off this first year with the goal to expand in the years to come. Partners share resources and accessibility details with the Foundation’s Information Specialists, who have the information readily available for inquiries. They also use and share the ‘Accessible Outdoor Checklist’ in discussions and planning to ensure an equitable lens.
- First Descents – Denver, Colorado
- Glacier National Park Conservancy – Columbia Falls, Montana
- Mesa Verde Foundation – Mesa Verde, Colorado
- Partnerships for Parks – New York City, New York
- Westchester Parks Foundation – Mt. Kisco, New York
For more information, visit ChristopherReeve.org or call our Information Specialists at 1-800-539-7309. Our Information Specialists are available Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. ET – 8 p.m. ET. You can also leave a message if you are calling after hours.
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About the Reeve Foundation
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis. By uniting the brightest minds in the field, we are working tirelessly to accelerate scientific discovery across the field of spinal cord research by investing in labs across the globe. Additionally, through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living, the Reeve Foundation’s National Paralysis Resource Center (NPRC) promotes the health, well-being, and independence of people living with paralysis, providing comprehensive information, resources, and referral services assisting over 124,000 individuals and families since its launch in 2002. The Reeve Foundation is committed to elevating our community’s voices and needs to achieve greater representation and independence.
For more information on accessible recreation and the ADA, check out our ADA Live! podcast with audio, accessible transcripts, and a list of resources: Episode 95: Get Out & About! Accessible & Inclusive Outdoor Recreation.