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

Status

The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is a major contributor to the high quality of life that Austinites and visitors enjoy. Recreation and nature are integral to improving mental health achieving personal wellbeing 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 to provide a framework towards 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.
 The Parks and Recreation Department ADA Transition Plan (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.  In 2020 the Department hired an ADA Coordinator to assist in the implementation of the ADA Transition Plan. Primary responsibilities include updating the accessibility status of PARD facilities, verifying capital improvement and maintenance work is ADA compliant, coordinating with recreation programming to evaluate and increase access to programs, and providing annual updates demonstrating the progress made toward implementation of the ADA Transition Plan.

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PARD’s ADA Transition Plan (2016) identified existing physical barriers limiting accessibility, methods, and strategies to remove barriers, and schedules to achieve compliance. The ADA requires public entities “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, 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 provide the most programming opportunities.
PARD’s long-term aspirational goal is to remove physical barriers that limit accessibility from virtually all 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 has to determine whether each program and service is offered at an accessible location. If a program is offered at multiple locations, then for the program to be considered accessible, it must be offered in both a north and south accessible location, using the Colorado River as the dividing line. If a program is not offered at an accessible location, then it is not accessible.
 Furthermore, to address the 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 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 in order to increase access to programs by more participants across the system.
PARD will strive to reach compliance for our park system by continuously assessing and responding to infrastructure needs and providing accessible recreational opportunities for all park patrons. 
Please Note: Due to COVID-19, PARD had modified operations for most of 2020. Some sites did not offer programming.

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 because 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 or land improvements for programs and services.  The chart below shows accessibility to programs and services categorized by program type. Below is an explanation of the current program categories:
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 are explained below.
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 will endeavor to come as close to compliance as possible for our park patrons by continuously assessing and responding to our infrastructural needs. This strategy also gives PARD more 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, Development and Operations and Maintenance Divisions.
4) Measure Target Calculation: The target was set using the priorities outlined in the Parks and Recreation Department ADA Transition Plan, considering that PARD must establish a reliable baseline. The current target is set at 35%; with a 5-year target of 100% for program accessibility.
 5) Frequency Measure is Reported: Annually (Fiscal Year)
Date page was last updated August 2021