Date of Award
Master of Forestry (MF)
This study addressed the application of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines in outdoor recreation settings. The purpose was three-fold: to develop site- and user-friendly design principles for non-urban, accessible nature trails; to design and construct a trail based on those principles; and to evaluate both principles and trail by surveying trail users. The Delphi Method was employed with a national panel to assess current expert opinion regarding accessibility and trails. Fifty-nine principles were developed from combined results of panel deliberations and applied experience gained constructing a prototype trail utilizing the universal design concept. Trail users rated the importance of these principles and how well the trail met their needs, expectations, and preferences. Questionnaires addressed whether there were differences in responses between users with and without disabilities. There were few significant differences between the two groups. Both groups substantiated the desirability of trails that permit access and promote enjoyable experiences for all users, but neither demonstrated interest in the specifics of how this is achieved, as long as site integrity is not compromised. The prototype trail was highly rated primarily because it provided universal access and quality recreation opportunities with minimal apparent impact to the site's physical features and aesthetic qualities.
Kirkindall, Steve, "Universal Design and Nature Trails: Balancing Accessibility, Site Integrity, and the Recreation Experience" (1999). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 30.