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Accessibility Assessments at Five Indiana State Parks

Five northeastern Indiana State Park properties are undergoing accessibility assessments this spring and early summer. Funded in part by the ASW Foundation out of Fort Wayne, IN, the Indiana State Parks Accessibility Assessment Project has moved into high gear this March! This pioneering project has completed several interim project goals, including facilitating listening sessions with Indiana State Parks staff, and members of the disability community. The project team, led by Eppley project manager Ross Edelstein including Colleen Durkin-Blackburn, Kate Wiltz, Layne Elliott, Kristy Anderson, and Steve Wolter, will join Indiana State Park staff later this Spring in field assessments looking at approaches to improving experiences for everyone.

This collaboration project between the Eppley Center for Parks and Public Lands, the AWS Foundation, and Indiana State Parks, will focus on Pokagon State Park, Chain O’Lakes State Park, Ouabache State Park, Mississinewa Lake, and Salamonie Lake. Micky Rea, Northern Region State Parks manager for Indiana State Parks leads the IN DNR in the project.

Utilizing a unique approach focused on identifying the key experiences at each park property, the Eppley team will provide accessibility improvement recommendations focused on these experiences in order to assist the parks and park advocates in addressing funding and support.

Indiana State Parks already has made major investments in improving accessibility with completion of an accessibility assessment project at Spring Mill State Park and purchase of accessible wheelchairs now available for use at 15 state parks. Adding to this effort will be targeted accessibility training for state park employees and the development of a guide for disabled individuals to better access the outdoor recreation areas.

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