Universal Design: Beach Park

April 19, 2010 at 5:14 am 1 comment

For as long as I have known my husband, he has always loved the beach and the ocean.  Even though he sustained his spinal cord injury from a diving accident, he still enjoys going to the beach.  The biggest concern is always the accessibility.

Typically, we find there are steps either at the beginning or the end of the walkway that bring you to the beach.  If we are able to access the beach without steps, it is then an arduous process of turning his manual wheelchair around so that I can slowly pull him backwards through the sand to our desired spot.  Once on the sand, Bill is no longer able to independently maneuver his wheelchair, having to rely on others for most of his mobility.  Does this stop him, no!  From our spot on the beach, Bill will transfer himself out of his wheelchair onto the sand and either scoot or roll himself down to the water’s edge to dip his feet and legs into the water.  This process is certainly not completed without spectators.

There have been times where we have experienced beaches that had ramped beach access.  The ramp did make the entrance easier, but still did not meet all our needs for accessibility.  After reading about JT’s Grommet Island Beach Park for Every “Body” in Virginia Beach, I am hopeful for more awareness about creating universally designed beach spaces.  This beach park idea came from JT Grommet and his family.  The article discusses that JT was an avid surfer and beach-lover prior to his diagnosis with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  It is described as “an oceanfront destination for both healthy and disabled children and adults.  It will assure everybody of a day at the beach.”

The project boasts being the first of its kind in America.  It incorporates accessible entrances/exits, an accessible route to the beach area, accessible beach seating with umbrella coverage, as well as a covered accessible playground area.  This project is still under construction, with the grand opening set for May 22, 2010.  Virginia Beach just might be on our vacation list this year!

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Entry filed under: Universal Design. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Gael Tannenbaum  |  April 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    What a wonderful idea! Too bad this is only the first in all of the US! I don’t know if you’ve seen this before, but we recently came across the company Renegade wheelchairs: http://www.renegadewheelchairs.com/ They are supposed to be excellent for maneuvering on all sorts of terrain including sand! This won’t fix the issue of inaccessible beaches due to stairs and other barriers, unfortunately. But, may help maneuverability in more circumstances. As always, enjoying your blog! – Gael

    Reply

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