Inclusion of Individuals With Disabilities in Public Park and Recreation Programs: Are Agencies Ready?
Keywords:Inclusion, individuals with disabilities, management, readiness, ecological theory.
AbstractThe importance of park and recreation agencies preparing for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities has been stressed since the passage of the ADA in 1990. To prepare for inclusion, Schleien, Tipton Ray, and Green (1997) recommend park and recreation agencies identify and develop community agency linkages, audit architectural accessibility, and provide comprehensive training for recreation personnel. While these authors offer suggestions and recommendations on preparing an environment, recreation personnel, and the community at large for inclusion, suggestions and recommendations are not based on studies examining the readiness of agencies or personnel creating an overall lack of information on this issue. A lack of readiness to provide inclusive leisure services may result in a situation where agencies, individuals with disabilities, and communities fail at this service. This paper explores the readiness of park and recreation agencies to offer inclusive recreation services. A convenience sample of park and recreation departments (N=3818) was used for this study. Departments (N=900) were randomly selected from the NRPA mailing list and the “Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities Questionnaire” was mailed to administrators in 48 different states. Usable questionnaires were received from 369 public and not-for-profit recreation agencies. Results indicated a low to moderate level of readiness regarding providing inclusive services, purchasing adaptive equipment, retrofitting facilities, conducting staff training, reviewing or revising policies and procedures, hiring inclusion specialists, and marketing inclusive services.
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