A Nationwide Look at Inclusion: Gains and Gaps


  • Mary Ann Devine


Inclusion of people with disabilities, administrators, recreation service provision, barriers to inclusion


Since the inception of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), the recreation profession has made significant strides toward promoting inclusion for consumers with disabilities. What remain unknown are the gains and gaps related to inclusion, specifically current barriers to inclusion experienced by recreation organizations and ways in which professionals are addressing those barriers. Knowing and understanding barriers to inclusion experienced by agencies is important so individuals with disabilities can be full participants in their communities. This study examined barriers to inclusion and ways in which organizations are responding to the barriers from an ecological approach. A random sample of park and recreation organizations across the United States participated in a survey regarding administrative- and community-related barriers they have experienced when providing inclusive recreation services. The respondents were also asked to identify ways in which they have addressed the barriers. Where applicable, results were compared to a prior study to highlight the advances in inclusion and discuss current barriers. Respondents (N = 761) indicated that they experienced few administrative barriers (e.g., policies, administrative support) with the exception of financial barriers and marketing. It was recommended that organizations use nontraditional means to fund inclusive services and partner with disabilityspecific organizations to market inclusive services. Community responses to inclusion were also examined to fully understand barriers that may be beyond the scope of a recreation agency but that they may be able to influence. Respondents reported that they did not perceive resistance to inclusion by the general public, individuals with disabilities, or their family members or caregivers. The respondents’ perceptions of the general community toward inclusion differed from findings of other studies; thus, further examination is recommended. Future studies comparing results from an agency perspective with the general public, participants with disabilities, or family member or caregiver perspectiveswould be helpful to gain a complete understanding of recreation needs, barriers, and possibilities.





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