UIC ASSESSES ACCESSIBILITY OF NATION'S RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
The University of Illinois at Chicago will assess the nation's progress toward the goal of making fitness, leisure and recreational facilities available to disabled people under a $915,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
UIC researchers will use the most advanced methods and measurements to gauge the accessibility of a broad spectrum of facilities in urban, suburban and rural communities throughout the United States. Included in the study are parks, swimming pools, fitness centers, campsites, trails, golf courses, bowling alleys, tennis courts and playgrounds.
Most disabled people do not get the physical activity needed to confer health benefits and prevent conditions such as heart disease, obesity and osteoporosis associated with a sedentary lifestyle, said James Rimmer, associate professor of human development and disability and principal investigator on the grant.
"Most fitness and recreational facilities are inaccessible to people with disabilities, preventing these individuals from benefiting from high quality and effective programs that would improve their health," Rimmer said.
Studies by researchers in UIC's department of disability and human development and at other institutions have found that many fitness and recreation programs not only are physically inaccessible to people with disabilities but also are staffed by people who are unprepared to support this population or who may hold negative attitudes toward people with disabilities.
The new project will assess all barriers to access to a facility, including preparation and attitude of staff, transportation, architectural features, and policies, such as adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The department of disability and human development in the UIC College of Health and Human Development Sciences has resources and networks developed by UIC researchers involved in related projects, including:
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