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Accessibility Standards and Design Guidelines

Introduction

Many parks and recreation settings across Oregon are not accessible to people with disabilities and inconsistent information exists about which are accessible. Through the work of ADA Coordinator Helen Kesch and the Office of Outdoor Recreation (OREC) Director Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has identified key areas of needed improvements to remove mobility barriers in our parks. Part of the effort recognizes the need to develop and implement universal design standards and guidelines for new park improvements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Universal design
Universal design recreation facilities are more welcoming to all visitors and provide more equitable access to places that make Oregon special. Universal design is, “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” By embracing universal design—and by showing its merits through photos, videos and rich descriptions—more people can be active outdoors.
Legislation and Accessibility Design Standards

​HB 2171 was introduced to the Oregon Legislature by Governor Brown to implement many of the recommendations from the Governor’s Taskforce on the Outdoors: 2020 Framework for Action completed by OREC.  The bill was one of the governor's priorities, and had support from the Governor’s Racial Justice Council Environmental Equity Committee.

A section on page 11 of the report refers to universal design standards referenced in the bill. The specific section focusing on creating Accessibility Design Standards reads as follows:

SECTION 4. (1) The State Parks and Recreation Department shall establish statewide recommended standards for the design of recreation projects, including trails, docks and public recreation access points, to ensure that state recreation areas are accessible to members of the public of all mobility levels.
(2) The department shall apply the statewide recommended standards to all future department recreation projects.

Accessibility Design Standards Guidebook

​An Advisory Working Group will begin developing the OPRD Accessibility Design Standards Guidebook and online resources to be completed by  Sept. 15, 2022. Guidelines and and standards in the guidebook will apply to key recreation facilities and will ultimately expand accessible facilities.

Recognizing that Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standards are minimum requirements and broad in application, OPRD will develop our own standards that not only meet, but exceed ABA to be proactive to our visitrs needs. These standards will also be available for other communities to glean for their park planning efforts, an especially useful resource to smaller communities who may not have a design department or extensive resources.

Other agencies like the National Park Service and the US Forest Service have already started some of this work and partnerships and collaboration will be critical across jurisdictions and within OPRD. We will also look for good examples already in place in our state parks and other parks that we can duplicate or adapt.

Project Timeline and Overview

​The Advisory Working Group will meet monthly to review technical designs, set priorities, and provide input on the guidebook drafts. The guidebook will be created with the help of a consultant with specific expertise and a facilitator who will lead community outreach. We anticipate meeting monthly through the spring and summer, with a final draft in August.

Outreach meetings, Advisory Working Group meeting summaries, and draft documents will be added to this webpage, so check back frequently.  Email Project Leader Iris Benson if you want to receive monthly updates.

Workshops and Listening Sessions

Save the Dates
Registration Opens March 7. Details Coming Soon.

All sessions are 6-8 p.m.
Purpose
Ashley Schahfer, with Empowering Access, specializing in Disability Inclusion consultation and facilitation, will host a series of workshops with OPRD.

The workshops are specifically for people to share their in-person experiences navigating barriers in outdoor spaces. The four workshops, each session building on the last, are to gather feedback from people underrepresented in the planning and design of parks.

The workshops will help identify barriers to access, set project priorities, and brainstorm solutions to meet community needs and desired experiences in the outdoors.

A questionnaire to help further refine the project focus will also be distributed as an additional feedback tool.

The information gathered from the disabilities community will be integrated into a guidebook for OPRD to use in project planning, direct the design of new facilities, and build momentum towards continued efforts around equity in access.

The project will also provide a valuable resource and perspective to other agencies, grant programs, and communities throughout Oregon.

What if I can’t attend?
All sessions will be recorded and available to review at your convenience. You are welcome to contact us to schedule an individual discussion or email us with your feedback. If you are not able to participate on the dates listed aboove, we still want your feedback and would be glad to talk with you individually and give you an opportunity to review materials.

Accommodations
If you need a specific accommodation to allow you to participate in the workshop, please reach out to the project manager. This will also be addressed in the registration process.

Gratitude
We recognize participation takes time, emotional investment, and potentially financial sacrifice. We appreciate your commitment and willingness to participate. Your perspective is essential to project success. Small gifts will be provided to participants. We look forward to collaborating with you!

Advisory Working Group Biographies

Ashley Schahfer, Owner, Empowering Access Founder - Consultant
Ashley has a Masters in Architecture from Portland State University. Currently, she lives in Bend, OR because of her love for the outdoors. Combined with 19-years of experience using a wheelchair, two degrees in Architecture, and a Women's studies certificate, her life mission has become thoughtful experience-based design and inclusion for the intersectional community with disabilities. She believes in the unifying force of outdoor recreation and is committed to making it accessible for everyone.

Barton Robison, Willamette Partnership
Barton knows firsthand the healing powers of nature and is passionate about removing barriers so that all Oregonians can know the benefits of time in green space. He’s one of the program leaders for the Oregon Health & Outdoors Initiative, and his strengths include facilitation, strategy development, and community engagement. Barton received his Master of Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Tribal Relations from Portland State University.

Bryce Hansen, Fish Restoration & Enhancement Program
Construction Project Manager for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Georgena Moran, ICC certified Accessibility Specialist
She is well versed in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards, applying them to facilities and parks, specializing in hiking trail assessments. Georgena is the founder and Project Manager of Access Recreation and the co-owner of Access for All, LLC, advocating for the rights and empowerment of people with disabilities.

Helena Kesch, Tribal Relations Coordinator & ADA Coordinator Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
Helena has 25+ years of public service, working extensively in service to others, ensuring equity and accessibility to all people. Her multicultural and multilingual skills (Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and English) have afforded her the opportunity to engage, support, and advocate for people throughout her career. Working at Department of Human Services for 20 years, Helena held positions as an Ombudsman, Tribal Liaison, and in Training & Development. She joined Oregon State Parks in 2018 as their ADA Coordinator and Policy Analyst, creating the agency’s ADA Transition Plan in 2021. In addition to her existing role, Helena was recently asked to serve as OPRD's Tribal Relations Coordinator. Helena obtained her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences from Oregon State University in 2018. Helena also completed the ADA Coordinators’ Training Certification Program (ACTCP) through the University of Missouri in 2021.

Iris Benson, Project Manager with OPRD
Iris’s education and work history reflect her deep connection and commitment to Oregon’s beautiful landscapes. She has a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Oregon, with over 16 years experience in public sector work including landscape design, parks planning, community outreach, natural resources, parks operations, and regulatory compliance. She strongly believes in promoting equitable access to all and the legacy of public lands to ensure environmental empathy is instilled in future generations.

Janine Belleque, Boating Facilities Manager
Oregon State Marine Board
She administers six state and federal boating-related grant programs as well as manages a technical assistance program that can provide topographic and bathymetric survey, design, engineering, permitting and planning assistance to boating facility owners. Working collaboratively over the last twenty years with federal, state, local governments, boating clubs, organizations, individuals and Tribal government to develop, replace and renovate recreational boating access. She is also appointed to the federal Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council which is a federal advisory committee to the Secretary of the Interior and Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kevin Herkamp, Fish Restoration and Enhancement Program and Salmon - Trout Enhancement Program Coordinator
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Lori Friesen, Standards Manager
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

Randy Peterson, Recreation Program Manager
Oregon Department of Forestry.
I have worked for the Oregon Department of Forestry in a Recreation Program capacity since 1993. Prior to joining ODF, I worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 5 years as a Recreation Planner for the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. In both positions I have been directly involved in recreation facility and trail system planning, design, and operations.

Tom Sayre, Local Government Grants Committee Member
Tom is an outdoor enthusiast who became a wheelchair user after injuring himself while recreating outdoors. For the past thirty years he has utilized his training in architecture, planning, construction and ADA consulting to improve accessibility in Pacific Northwest parks. His advocacy continues by serving on Clatsop County’s Recreational Lands Planning Advisory Committee and OPRD’s Local Government Grant Program Advisory Committee.


Contacts

Iris Benson
Project Manager
Accessibility Standards Development
503-979-7522

Resources


House Bill 2171 (see Section 4)

Governor's Task Force on the Outdoors: 2020 Framework for Action (see universal design standards on page 11)

Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards Chapter 10: Outdoor Developed Areas (access-board.gov)