Parks for all: Information on accessibility and associated experiences.
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This thesis examines the accuracy of accessibility information for parks and the related experiences of visitors. It explores whether or not there is a gap between the information that is made available to the public and the experiences that are available on the ground. People with mobility impairments encounter barriers to movement. The provision of information on accessibility may assist those with impairments to select recreational opportunities that are compatible with their interests and abilities. Accordingly, the availability and accuracy of information on accessibility is evaluated through comparison with on-site field observations. Four parks of different management types – local, regional, provincial and national – are examined. Promotional information was gathered primarily from brochures and websites. Key informant interviews were conducted and on-site measurements of accessibility were taken. The quantity and accuracy of information on accessibility varied between the parks. Inconsistencies were found between the information on accessibility and the on-site situations. Details on park features like parking, trails, washrooms, visitor centers and campsites lacked volume, specifics and accuracy, and these features are important to individuals with a mobility impairment. Stronger links should be established between the monitoring of accessibility and the timely, accurate provision of accessibility information. There is willingness among park officials to address accessibility issues but financial constraints are widely regarded as being an impediment to action. As such, physical improvements to accessibility are most likely to occur as a part of general maintenance schedules. Nevertheless, regular systematic monitoring and reporting is not expensive and would benefit park management by enabling them to provide more accurate information to the public. The study also suggests that greater engagement with the impaired community could be beneficial to parks, official, and visitors.