NCA conducts and facilitates research on issues critical to access in recreation environments. NCA has partnered with researchers from the universities of Minnesota, Utah, Georgia and Tennessee to discover the needs and preferences of people with disabilities. NCA Research provides professionals with practical solutions to enhance access for visitors with disabilities. NCA Research has shaped the development of policy and accessibility standards nationally and internationally.

Electronic copies of all NCA research reports are available through the IU Scholar Works repository.

Best Practices

Best Practices of Accessibililty in Parks and Recreation: A Delphi Survey of National Experts in Accessibility. Voight, Alison; Robb, Gary; Skulski, Jennifer; Getz, Deborah; Scharven, Debbie (2008). Final Report (PDF).


Temporary Beach Surface Study - Seven temporary surfaces tested on ease of installation, maintenance and usability in Daytona, Florida (2001). Executive Summary (PDF). Final Report (PDF).

Beach Study: Assistive Devices and Surfaces - Original study conducted at Bradford Woods (1993). Final Report (PDF).


National Survey on Campground Accessibility: Policies and Practices -- A study of policies and procedures common to accommodating people with disabilities in campgrounds and campsites throughout the United States (2006). Final Report (PDF).

Cultural Arts Venues & Sports Arenas

Accommodating Patrons with Disabilities - A Survey of Ticket and Accommodation Policies for Performance Venues, Theaters and Sports Arenas. Conducted in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the ADA/504 Coordinators for the Arts, and the Indiana Institute on Community and Disability (2002). Executive Summary (PDF). Final Report (PDF).


For The Good of the Game - Under a grant from the USGA, a report on the status of golfers with disabilities in America. (1999). Executive Summary (PDF). Final Report (PDF).

Outdoor Developed Areas

Functional Aspects of Accessible Picnic Elements - This NCA research project, conducted in partnership with the University of Minnesota, looks at the functionality of different designs of picnic tables, grills and fire rings while surveying the preferences of park visitors with disabilities (2001). Executive Summary (PDF). Final Report (PDF). Appendix (PDF).


A Longitudinal Study of Playground Surfaces to Evaluate Accessibility - The purpose of this longitudinal study, funded by the U.S. Access Board, was to evaluate a variety of playground surfaces, their ability to meet accessibility requirements, their costs upon installation and maintenance over a 3-5 years.  Year One Findings Executive Summary (May 2011) (PDF).  Final Report (October 2013) (HTML) (PDF).

Swimming Pools

Swimming Pool Accessibility Study - A swimming pool accessibility study for the U.S. Access Board resulting in the development of accessibility guidelines for pools. (1997) Final Report (PDF-25 MB). Recommendations and Product Information (PDF).


National Trails Surfaces Study - This research project assessed the firmness and stability of 11 different types of natural aggregate and treated soil surfaces over a four-year period to determine their effectiveness after exposure to the elements, freeze and thaw cycles, and other factors. The study was sponsored by the U.S. Access Board. (2014)  Final Report (HTML) (PDF - 5MB).

NCA Longitudinal Trail Research Program on Soil Stabilizers - (1999) A two-year study on the effectiveness of surface treatments for creating trails accessible to people with mobility impairments.

Visitor Expectations

National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) a study of outdoor recreation of the US population as related to people with disabilities. (2000)

Visitor Expectations and Perceptions of Program and Physical Accessibility in the National Park Service - An executive summary of a study of national park visitors with disabilities. The study identifies the perceptions of people with disabilities relative to program and physical accessibility in the National Park Service. Conducted in partnership with the University of Tennessee (2001). Executive Summary (PDF). Final Report (PDF). Appendix (PDF).