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What Does Access Mean to You?

Oregon State Parks is developing new Accessibility Design Standards and hosting 4 Workshops through June, starting with a Listening Session on the 21st of this month. The goal of this project is to address barriers to access across Oregon by ensuring voices of individuals with disabilities and the broader community facing access barriers are heard and prioritized. The workshops are specifically for these individuals with disabilities to share their lived experiences navigating barriers to outdoor spaces. Details on OPRD's website and more information below with registration.

An empty wheelchair on a beach awaits while surfers ride the waves further off the beach The waves and surf were no barrier for this wheelchair user and participant in our annual Otter Rock n Roll youth surf event...but the built infrastructure around the state park from stairways, trails, sidewalks and curbs to restroom facilities can create many barriers.

One of the founding principles and cornerstone initiatives of Surfrider Foundation is beach access, but far too often our lens for access is not a fully inclusive view. We regularly advocate for beach accesses in the form of footpath easements, narrow trails, stairways and a host of other recreational amenities that to be quite frank, do absolutely nothing for the accessibility for many individuals with disabilities. Embarrassingly, our "public right" to access alienates many individuals of the public and Oregonians, including myself, are regularly accustomed to claiming beach access and use of our beaches as our "birthright" - which must sound really unremarkable to members of the tribal nation community that first lay claim and stewardship over our beaches. The public right and general idea of access looks extremely different to many individuals, especially those with disabilities that face a multitude of barriers to our beaches and outdoor spaces.  Listening and learning from these individuals and the broader community facing barriers is vital to redesigning our outdoor recreational facilities with all Oregonians in mind - kudos to OPRD (and all those behind HB 2171 that set this good work in motion).

Image: Park Text: What does access mean to you? Disability Learning Sessions

The four workshops, each session building on the last, are to gather feedback specifically from individuals with disabilities to improve the planning and design of parks. The Workshops will help identify barriers to access, set project priorities, and brainstorm solutions to meet our communities needs and desires in the outdoors.
For more information about the project, what to expect, accessibility, and how to register please visit the OPRD website or click the links below to go directly to registration. You will need to register for each date individually.

Workshop Dates:
March 21st, 6pm - 8pm PST

First Listening Session

April 13th, 6pm - 8pm PST

May 4th, 6pm - 8pm PST

May 31st, 6pm - 8pm PST