How creating a welcoming and accessible environment makes it easier for members to enjoy your facility.
The simple truth is human beings are social creatures and every one of us has the desire to be a part of something; to be included. Are you doing everything you can to make sure your recreational facility is inclusive to not only different age groups, genders and races, but also to those who have different abilities?
In this day and age, addressing accessibility issues and creating inclusive facilities is probably easier than in any other time in history. Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990, this country has made great strides in creating inclusive facility designs and unique accessibility products. But there is still a lot of work to be done.
There are several resources that offer checklists for recreational facilities to self-analyze for accessibility and compliance. While it does not hurt to look closely at your facility using these tools and resources, navigating the ADA rules and regulations is not something someone should tackle on their own. Many of these regulations and codes vary from state to state or county to county and require in-depth knowledge of the federal ADA laws. No one should attempt to review their facility for accessibility, compliance and inclusion on their own.
Begin your facility review by consulting with an actual firm that specializes in ADA accessibility audits. These organizations have the necessary education, tools and knowledge to analyze your facility for short-comings and make recommendations based on their findings. Then you can search for any appropriate products or plan for any remodel construction in your next budget sessions.
The benefits of analyzing your facility for accessibility and inclusivity are numerous and it simply makes good business sense. For instance, people with disabilities make up the largest minority group in America and have over $220 billion in discretionary spending power.
Additionally, it is estimated that by 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be over the age of 65, and seven out of 10 individuals will acquire some sort of disability, such as mobility, flexibility or dexterity issues, by the time they reach the age of 75. Recreational activities at an inclusive and accessible facility can help alleviate or improve many of these conditions.
Creating a welcoming and accessible environment for your members only makes it easier for them to enjoy your facility and improve their quality of life. It all begins with an honest look at what you are doing now through the discerning eye of an appropriate and educated third party to help you make the right decisions and assemble a plan to address your facility short-comings in the years to come.
Bruce Giffin has almost two decades of experience with accessibility products and is the national sales manager for Aqua Creek products, a manufacturer of accessibility equipment for recreational purposes. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit aquacreekproducts.com.