Percentage of Parks and Recreation programs and services that are ADA accessible


The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is a major contributor to the quality of life in Austin. Access to nature and recreation-based activities are integral to improving mental health, achieving personal well-being, and creating healthy and happy communities. PARD’s mission is to “inspire Austin to learn, play, protect, and connect by creating diverse programs and experiences in sustainable natural spaces and public places.”
It is therefore essential that PARD facilities, as well as programs and services, be accessible, inclusionary, and welcoming to all. In 2015 the Austin City Council authorized the creation of an ADA Transition Plan with the goal of creating a framework for providing facilities that are accessible and welcoming for all citizens and thus, allow PARD to offer programs and services that are fully accessible. As part of the ADA Transition Plan, all major PARD properties were assessed for accessibility. The ADA Transition Plan facilitates the prioritization of investments in upgrading current park facilities and amenities to align with federal accessibility standards.
PARD’s ADA Transition Plan (issued in December 2016), and PARD's Long Range Plan, “Our Parks, Our Future,” outline the Department's strategies to comply with federal and state ADA standards within Austin's park system. PARD is actively pursuing the implementation of maintenance and improvement projects that create welcoming and inclusive spaces to support individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities who are interested in taking advantage of the amenities, events, and programs that PARD has to offer.
Current projects are primarily focused on the improvement of accessible routes, from parking areas and public right-of-way to building entrances, interior paths of travel, and connections among the different elements of the sites such as restrooms, pools, pavilions, sport courts, and playgrounds.
The following are select projects with ADA improvements that PARD completed in recent months:
  • Carver Cultural Center: Building access from parking lot and peripheral walkway.
  • Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center: ADA parking spaces, building access from the public right-of-way, and other facility accessibility improvements.
  • Dick Nichols Neighborhood Pool: ADA parking spaces, access to the facility entrance and to the basketball court.
  • Walsh Boat Landing: ADA restrooms renovation.
  • Texas Rowing Center: ADA parking spaces.
  • Holly Shores at Town Lake Metropolitan Park: ADA access to hike and bike trails.
  • Dottie Jordan Recreation Center: ADA parking spaces, ADA restrooms renovation, and other facility accessibility improvements.
  • Dottie Jordan Neighborhood Park: New accessible playground.
  • South Austin Senior Activity Center: ADA parking spaces, access to the building entrance.
  • Pharr Tennis Center: Renovation of the facility including ADA parking spaces, accessible route, accessible restrooms, and other elements inside the building.
  • Millennium Youth Center: ADA parking spaces, access to the building entrance, ADA restrooms, assembly area at the theater.
1.New ADA Parking spaces at Dick Nichols Neighborhood Pool and Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center
 2. New ADA parking spaces at the Millennium Youth Center and new outdoor space at Pharr Tennis Center
PARD has several new playgrounds in construction phase at the following parks and facilities. They will all have accessible features and accessible accesses.
  • Northwest Recreation Center
  • McBeth Recreation Center
  • Brownie Neighborhood Park
  • Highland Neighborhood Park
  • Terrytown Neighborhood Park
  • Alamo Pocket Park
3. New playscape project at the Northwest Recreation Center
Other facilities projects in design and construction , or with construction anticipated to start by Fall 2023. The following projects are some examples:
  • Austin Memorial Park Tower: ADA restrooms renovations.
  • Roy Kizer Golf Course: ADA parking spaces, access to the entrance of the Pro shop.
  • Brush Square: New accessible route.
  • Givens District Park: New accessible route.
  • Dottie Jordan Neighborhood Park: ADA access to pool and playground.
  • Barton Springs Pool Bathhouse
  • Northwest Pool Bathhouse
  • Bull Creek District Park: ADA Restrooms Renovation
4. Austin Memorial Park Tower, restrooms under renovation
5. Brush Square under construction
Another project that PARD is involved with is the installation of the newly designed receptacles. The attention on accessibility is not focused solely on the new colors and size of the receptacles, but also on their specific location, carefully monitored to assure compliant reach range along the accessible route.
6. New PARD receptacles


PARD’s ADA Transition Plan (2016) identified existing physical barriers limiting accessibility, methods and strategies to remove barriers along with schedules to achieve compliance. The ADA requires public entities to “provide programs and services, when viewed in their entirety, to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.”
PARD’s short-term goal is to reach 100% program accessibility, which means that every PARD program and service is offered at an ADA accessible location. To achieve this, every PARD program and facility need not be accessible, but, within the network of facilities, an accessible option should be offered. The Department should also consider geographic distribution of accessible options. As PARD prioritizes projects to remove physical barriers, it should consider which facilities and parks offer the most programming opportunities.
PARD’s long-term goal is to remove, to the greatest extent, the physical barriers that limit accessibility to the PARD-owned facilities. Reaching these goals requires a continuous improvement strategy of developing accessible spaces and creating programming opportunities that make the best use of these spaces.
To measure compliance, PARD must determine whether each program and service is offered at an accessible location. If a program is offered at multiple locations, it must be offered in both a north and south accessible location, using the Colorado River as the dividing line to be considered accessible. If a program is not offered at an accessible location, then it is not considered accessible.
Furthermore, to address structural non-compliance issues, PARD developed an improved data collection process including field verification of completed ADA improvements. This process provides an up-to-date status of facility accessibility, identifies the most critical non-compliant features in terms of program accessibility, and highlights the highest priorities for corrective actions. Through coordination with recreational and cultural program divisions, programs and services were properly classified creating a consistent format to provide reliable and accurate information. This will ensure consistent evaluation and progress tracking from year to year.
These improvements to data gathering and plan management allow for better analysis of both structural and programming access needs, which helps clarify priorities and funding requirements to increase participant access to programs across the PARD system.
PARD will strive to reach compliance in our park system by continuously assessing and responding to infrastructure needs and by providing accessible recreational opportunities for all park patrons.

Additional Measure Insights

As PARD prioritizes projects to remove physical barriers to parks and open spaces, it will consider which facilities and parks provide the most programming opportunities.  This new approach to accessibility is a profound shift from before, as PARD now has the flexibility to define terms based on standards for a public park system. The Department must use a realistic approach to achieving compliance due to the slow nature of funding allocated or available for ADA facility and land improvements, programs, and services. 
Programs are clustered under categories called “Program Types.” Activities offered under each Program Type have specific learning objectives and skill-building goals for participants. Program Types include:
Community-Based Recreation: Leisure programs that appeal to a broad range of ages, activities, skill levels, and interests.
Natural Resource and Environmental Education: Programs to experience, engage, and learn about our natural environments.
Museums, Culture and History: Programs that record, exhibit, and celebrate our history, arts, and cultures.
Aquatics: Programs to promote physical health, skill building, and water safety.
PARD expects to reach programmatic compliance by 2025 and will continue to strive to reach compliance at all facilities by continuously assessing and responding to infrastructural needs. This strategy gives PARD better control over how it “moves the needle" on providing recreational opportunities for all park patrons.

Measure Details and Definition

1) Definition: The percentage of programs and services within the City of Austin that are compliant with ADA standards outlined for a public park system.
2) Calculation Method: The measure output is calculated using the formula: [Percentage of Parks and Recreation programs and services that are ADA accessible] = [Programs Offered with an Accessible Option] / [Total PARD Programs]
3) Data Collection Process: Data for this measure is provided by various divisions within the Parks and Recreation Department. Program data is provided by Community Recreation, Centralized Programs, Museum and Cultural Programs, Natural Resources, Golf Services, and Aquatics Divisions. Facility conditions are provided by the Planning, Site Development, Architectural Development, and Operations and Maintenance Divisions.
4) Measure Target Calculation: The target is set using the priorities outlined in the Parks and Recreation Department ADA Transition Plan, considering that PARD must establish a reliable baseline. Last year, the target for Fiscal Year 2023 was set at 50% for program accessibility, and as of October 2023, the target of 50% was met. The current target is set at 80% for Fiscal Year 2024; PARD will continue working on ADA improvements and has set a target of 100% by Fiscal Year 2025.
 5) Frequency Measure is Reported: Annually (Fiscal Year). This measure will be updated in Fall 2024 when FY24 data is available.
Date page was last updated: October 2023