Have you ever been grocery shopping with your baby in a stroller and had to use the ramp or curb cut to get into and out of the store? What about using a ramp or elevator instead of stairs as you book-it through the airport with luggage? How about the verbal notices of stops on the airport train or the people mover? How many times have we told our children and grandchildren to wait for the LED signal to cross the street? How often do we watch the count-down and listen to the kind voice that tell us when it is safe to cross? Surely, most of us have done at least one of these things…multiple times.
Now, have you ever thought about how these things came to be? Most of us don’t. The fact is, ramps and curb cuts, elevators (in most places) and visual/verbal cues on crossings and transportation (and much more) are the results of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA turns 30 this month. In celebration of this monumental legislation, we want to share with you the work we (the Metroparks) are doing, why we are doing it and what’s next for us as it relates to accessibility.
Removing barriers and creating access to recreation is a priority for the Metroparks. Earlier this year, the Metroparks Planning and Development Department updated our ADA Transition Plan. The plan examined existing facilities and outlines needed improvements throughout the park system as we work toward accomplishing the goal of having a barrier-free Metroparks system.
Facility improvements include projects like parking lots, walkways, door openings and knobs, restrooms, portable restrooms, picnic facilities, tables, and many more items. Picnic facilities and playgrounds were prioritized as a starting point in each park and inspected for ADA compliance and needed improvements. Future improvements are planned to include additions to programming, recreation opportunities and equipment. The ADA Transition Plan recognizes that barriers exist currently within the Metroparks and that we have work to do to improve the parks and make them more accessible for all people. We are committed to using this plan as a guiding document to improve our facilities, and work has already started in many areas. Project improvement updates can be found on our website under Current Projects.
This summer you may notice work taking place on our hike-bike trails to resurface sections in Lower Huron, Kensington and Hudson Mills Metroparks. Each project pays close attention to the surface grades of those trails to meet ADA requirements. You may also notice some of our picnic shelters now include accessible tables and grills as well as a fixed table layout that ensures proper table spacing for wheelchairs and others to navigate throughout the space. And this Fall a new accessible playground will be installed at Maple Beach in Kensington Metroparks.
Grant funding has allowed the Metroparks to make additions to accessible water recreation. An accessible fishing pier at Lake St. Clair Metropark is now available for use! Over the next few years, we will be adding an accessible canoe/kayak launch at Lake Erie Metropark, an accessible floating canoe/kayak launch at Kensington Metropark, and a canoe/kayak launch with a moveable transfer station at Hudson Mills Metropark’s Rapids View area. Each of these projects encompasses much more including accessible parking, walkways, restrooms, signage and picnic tables.
The Metroparks are also working to improve trail access and education. At Oakwoods Metropark we are improving overall accessibility to the Oakwoods Nature Center, the Split Log Trail and associated amenities. Grade and slope changes will be made to the parking lot, and the pathways to the Nature Center and the Split Log Trail which will meet ADA standards. Picnic tables, drinking fountains, benches, observation deck and bike rack will all be updated for accessibility as well.
We invite you to explore our ADA Transition Plan. The Metroparks will continue to implement the ADA Transition Plan, develop new facilities that meet or exceed ADA requirements, and look for ways to remove barriers to access so that individuals of all abilities and walks of life have equitable access to Metroparks facilities, programs, services, and activities.