Friday, June 26, 2020

30 Years of the ADA!

Idahoans are celebrating 30 Years of Community Access, Independent Living, Employment and Activism through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The COVID-19 pandemic means we're adapting plans for Hands Around the Capitol 2020” to create a series of online events, beginning in July and continuing until the end of October. We welcome your involvement!

The ADA means people with disabilities are treated the same way as others. We'll use social media  to share stories of how the ADA empowers us to live the lives we want, and to celebrate the people who made it all possible.

The law expanded opportunities for 304,000 Idahoans with disabilities by reducing barriers, changing perceptions, and increasing full participation in community life. The ADA's promise can only be reached through shared to fully implement the ADA through education and outreach.

To help celebrate, follow activities on social media:
#ThanksToTheADA #ADA30Idaho #WhatTheADAMeansToMe

For more information or to share your stories, contact

Monday, June 1, 2020

Adaptive Recreation Creates Opportunity, Supports Local Economies

Paraskier making a sharp turn on the ski slope
Even before the ADA was signed into law, people living with disabilityand their families and friendsfound ways to pursue interests in sports and the outdoors. There are many pioneers in the field, including Jim Winthers, a veteran connected to the 10th Mountain Division in WWII. He found models in Europe to help returning veterans learn to ski after losing limbs. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and where there's a will, there's a way...

As a former volunteer with S'PLORE! (Special Populations Learning Outdoor Recreation and Education), it was great to learn from our diverse client base about their drive and specific needs to get outdoors and ski, raft, climb or paddle. What struck me back then was a common request from wheelchair users during our overnight rafting trips on the Colorado River:
I'd like watch the river for a while and be alone...
We all benefit from solitude, the sensation of wind and sun or the natural sights and sounds of water, landscape and open sky. What I learned was that this can apply equally for those with mobility, sensory or developmental challenges. The other thing I learned from fellow volunteers who were wheelchair users themselves was their value for roadless areas and wildernesseven when that meant they couldn't visit easily. While others might feel differently, the knowledge that those areas were preserved in a natural state was as important to them as it was to anyone else.

To get a sense of the experience of a wheelchair user running the Coloradofrom an unintentional swim to using the camp 'groover'see this piece featured on, Rafting the Colorado with a Wheelchair, by John
 W. Mitchell.

As we all adjust to a world with #COVID-19, guides, outfitters and others in the recreation-tourism industry are anxious to accommodate clients again safely. With up to 12% of Idaho's population living with some form of disability, that's a market share worth welcoming into your lodge, shop, cabins, boat and restaurant.

Idaho is a state with exceptional recreational and landscape valuesand an economy based largely on providing access to those places. Boise's Ridge to River trail system features several wheelchair-accessible trail segments that let more folks explore the landscape, fresh air and views around the city.

Two adaptive cycle users stopped on a foothills trail overlooking the City of Boise.
Copyright, Ridge to River

I'm happy to report that S'PLORE, a small Utah nonprofit, is now part of the National Ability Center. One look at their program list will give anyone a sense of the potential available to both individuals and local businesses. Whether it's hunting, fishing, skiing, bird watching or boating, Idaho has much to offer.

Wheelchair user fishing at Lake Anna State Park's universally accessible overlook

Access Means Business, and Access Means Welcome.

What are we waiting for?