Visiting a park, trail or recreation center in Allen this month? You might notice someone cruising through those areas on a Segway to assess the condition of outdoor walkways and other pedestrian surfaces, including factors that determine compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A Cole & Associates employee collects sidewalk data at Celebration Park.
Collecting this data is one of the first steps in ensuring Allen parks, trails and facilities provide accessible and inclusive amenities for all visitors, as captured in a formal ADA Transition Plan. The process will include public feedback opportunities, to be scheduled later this spring, with a full report expected in August.
The department is working with Direct Access, an international consulting firm which provides emerging best practices for accessibility and the daily life experiences of its staff, as 86% of its team are people with disabilities. President Steven Mifsud, MBE, who has been profoundly deaf since birth and has a cochlear implant, founded Direct Access Consultancy in 2004 after working as the Access Officer for the historic City of Chester in England.
Direct Access president Steven Mifsud, MBE, takes measurements at the Celebration Park playground.
Mifsud’s goal for this project is to close the gap between meeting ADA standards and becoming truly inclusive for everyone. He says accessibility goes beyond just the physical environment; it also includes social and digital accessibility.
“Accessibility doesn’t start once you arrive at an ADA parking space,” Mifsud said. “It starts at home when you’re thinking about going to a park. Then you research the trip there, enjoy the facility, and go back home and share with others the experience you had at the park.”
Direct Access has partnered with local accessibility experts Cole & Associates who will use their Segway-fitted ultra-light inertial profiler (ULIP) to scan and collect precise data about paved surfaces at Allen parks, trails and recreation facilities. The data will be used to help identify possible projects to bring the city closer to full compliance with the ADA.
Michael Knowles (left) of Cole & Associates and Steven Mifsud of Direct Access display an example of an enhanced wayfinding sign.