Nature . . .
Sometimes all you want to do is get
out in the country, somewhere pretty, so don't forget the
simple things in lifebeaches, park trails and wilderness.
Access your state's Web sites for accessible trails at state
parks, forest preserves and beaches.
If you need help getting started, read
Easy Access to National Parks: The Sierra Club Guide for
People With Disabilities, by Wendy Roth and contributor Michael
Tompane. No one should miss out on seeing at least some of
America's 350 national parks. This book provides access to
all of them for travelers with disabilities. Detailed information
is provided on nature trails, touring, easier hiking opportunities,
park services, campgrounds, lodging, sports opportunities,
medical facilities and more. This is a complete guide for
anyone with a mobility, vision or hearing impairment, as well
as for seniors or families with young children. Available
at most bookstores.
A unique organization offering outdoor adventures
to all people of varying abilities is Wilderness Inquiry,
located up north at Minnesota's Boundary Waters, on the U.S./Canadian
border. Go canoeing, camping, kayaking, dog-sledding, or just
tool around on a nature trail. See http://www.wildernessinquiry.org,
or call (612) 379-2858 or (800) 728-0719 (Voice or TTY).
If you're interested in visiting Yosemite
National Park, get the Access for Visitors with Disabilities
brochure at any park entrance or call in advance at (209)
372-0529. For other traveler information or the Yosemite Sierra
Visitors Bureau: http://www.yosemite-sierra.org.
For sign language interpreter information, call (209) 372-4726
TDD (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
The Golden Access Passport grants anyone
with a permanent disability free entrance to all 350 United
States national parks. See: http://www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm
For your information, the U.S. Access Board
has assembled an advisory committee to review and standardize
access requirements for public rights of way-forest preserves,
parks, beaches, campgrounds, etc. But until their work is
completed, you can find accessible trail guides through your
state's department of tourism or chamber of commerce.
Through an ongoing, statewide effort to promote recreation
opportunities for people with disabilities, the Recreation
Access Illinois (RAI) program has been created. The goal of
the program is to encourage full participation in recreation
programs by people with disabilities.
Launched in July 2002 by the Office of the Illinois Attorney
General, in cooperation with the Illinois Association of Park
Districts (IAPD), RAI is beginning to have an impact on how
people with disabilities look at their health, and how service
providers look at the accessibility of their facilities. you
can visit the RAI Web site at www.recreationaccessillinois.org
or its toll free hotline at 1-800-900-8096.