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NPS Accessibility Assessments

NCA accessibility assessments of National Parks focus on the visitor experience.

Through a special task agreement with the National Park Service, NCA conducted accessibility assessments of 38 National Parks in 2010-11.  A pilot project was initiated three years earlier at 12 small National Parks. The pilot was so successful that the project was expanded to the 38 small-to-mid size national parks for 2010-2011.  Each accessibility assessment included an evaluation of programs and facilities that support the total visitor experience: visitor orientation, interpretive programs, exhibits, trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, historic sites, and other unique visitor experiences.  Programmatic and physical barriers to people with disabilities were identified.  NCA assessment teams recommended corrective actions through the development of work orders and cost estimates utilizing the NPS Facility Management Software System.

"The NCA assessments start with program access," says NCA Executive Director Dr. Sherril York. "The NCA assessments aren't all about measuring parking spaces, routes and bathrooms. It starts with program access. What is the program? What is the intended visitor experience? What is the story? What is it that park personnel want all guests to learn, experience and take with them as a memory from their park visit?" 

"Our focus is on the visitor experience," says Alice Voigt, NCA Accessibility Specialist, who leads the project. "While an AE firm might go in and only look at the buildings and structures, NCA focuses on the programs offered, and what corrective actions are necessary for visitors with disabilities to benefit from the total park experience."  In turn, park personnel are able to take the work orders and cost estimates and bundle them into specific requests for funding to improve access for visitors with disabilities.

Some of the parks assessed under this project and the pilot project include:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

Carl Sandburg House

Catoctin Mountain National Park

Cowpens National Battlefield

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park

Eugene O'Neil National Historic Site

Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Friendship Hill National Historic Site

Golden Spike National Historic Site

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

Johnstown Flood National Memorial

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Lincoln Boyhood National Historic Site

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Manassas National Battlefield

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument

Roger Williams National Memorial

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

Tuzigoot National Monument

Weir Farm National Historic Site

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

William Howard Taft National Historic Site