February 15, 2022 3 min read
(Cover photo: Angkor Wat, City of Temples, Cambodia. Image credit: Austrian Images)
All over the world fiercely independent kids, teens, adults, and seniors with limited mobility or physical disabilities are finding new ways to get outside and experience life to its fullest, no holds barred. In fact, this once underserved community, along with innovative entrepreneurs, are leading the charge to create a more inclusive world.
From souped-up ATVs with adaptive hand controls, electric custom harnesses, and low-effort steering, to all-terrain scooters and wheelchairs, to adaptive sports and specialized tours for hitting the trails, participating in outdoor recreation, and traveling – anyone can join in and have fun.
Here are five ways accessibility and inclusion are making outdoor adventures possible for everyone.
5. Park and Playground Accessibility
The Americans with Disabilities Act ensured that any public playground built or altered after 1990 complied with some requirements to make the park more accessible for people who use wheelchairs. It was a step in the right direction, but there’s more to be done.
Not only have playground equipment companies answered the call to improve accessibility, many parents, non-profits, and communities are going above and beyond to improve the experience for all in their parks. One of the more exciting trends is equipment that takes all the senses into consideration, including tactile, auditory, and visual stimulation.
4. Adaptive Equipment
(Adaptive equipment. Image credit: Run-FFWPU)
Individual and team sports, require some type of equipment, whether it’s a ball, a bat, or other gear. This is nothing new. What’s changing and is particularly exciting is the growing landscape of adaptive sporting gear, making sporting more accessible to many. Everything from water skiing to trail-blazing have evolved to be more accessible.
Now is a great time to get out and try new sports, whether you take it to an expert level or simply enjoy being active and with others.
3. Specialized Outdoor Activities and Adaptive Adventures
(Adaptive Activities. Image credit: Elevate)
There are groups which specialize in adaptive or accessible adventures that cater to people with disabilities seeking new challenges. These groups often employ specialists in their sport or activity. Since each person with disabilities has different needs and nuances, finding such experts can be a huge benefit and doing an activity that appeals to you makes it even more exciting. There are scores of activities and adventures that you can do at a level you’re most comfortable with, including:
2. Protection From the Elements
(Image credit: Under the Weather®)
Weather can play a big role in anyone’s ability to get outside and commune with nature and is just as problematic for people with limited mobility. Electric scooter canopies offer limited protection and wheelchair umbrellas are even less effective if the wind kicks up. You can minimize weather concerns with the right protection. Under the Weather® offers a variety of weatherproof wearables and freestanding tents that zip fully closed for instant relief and comfort. They pop open in seconds to keep the damp cold and drizzle out.
The ChairPod® and the slimmer more compact StadiumPod® are designed for moving round, under enclosed cover. Both slip over the upper body and can be used with wheelchairs and electric scooters. The OriginalPod™ XL Deluxe is a popup tent with a wide base and rear door for easy access, and room for mobility equipment, a companion, or support pet.
1. Tour Groups and Travel Destinations
(Accessible travel destinations. Image credit: Daniel Frese)
If you’re itching to experience new places or travel, there are tour groups that specialize in accessible trips and customizing the perfect travel adventure.
Inclusion and accessibility are spreading across the globe; more and more destinations are making travel easier for people with disabilities. Ramps are replacing stairs, wider walkways and aisles are being created, beach-friendly wheelchairs are available, and specialized guides can lead you through some of the most interesting sites in the world.
The Future of Accessibility
Many innovations are already underway that will change the way people with disabilities approach activities and even daily living, like lower-cost 3D printed high-tech prostheses, voice control internet navigation, exoskeletons that help people with limited mobility find renewed strength, as well as robotic assistance. Here’s to a brave new world of shared experiences for everyone!
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