The BLM’s mandate of multiple-use management and its role as provider of a wide variety of dispersed recreation opportunities in vast open spaces and developed outdoor recreation facilities present unique challenges in implementing recreation programs and activities accessible to people with disabilities.
Most recreation activities on the public lands occur outdoors, and, thus, BLM has focused its efforts on improving accessible outdoor recreation facilities. Although the BLM has challenges, it is committed to ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to access the public lands. Much progress has been made toward that goal, but there is still much to do to achieve the desired level of access.
To meet these challenges, the BLM manages its accessibility program from its Washington Office, and has collateral-duty state accessibility coordinators in each of its State Offices. Key elements of BLM’s Accessibility Program include:
- Systematic accessibility evaluations at developed recreation sites
- Technical assistance to BLM Field Offices on accessibility issues
- Accessibility training and education for Field staff and managers
- Developing action plans for corrective actions on evaluated developed recreation sites
- Internal and external media and communication activities
- Coordination and cooperation with other BLM program areas and other Federal Agencies.
The following are the BLM’s guiding principles for its Accessibility Program:
- Equal Opportunity – Provide an equal opportunity for participation in programs and activities.
- Independence – Provide for independent and safe participation through the highest level of accessibility.
- Dignity – Ensure the dignity of the participant. Access is the concept of choice, but it is choice with dignity.
- Integration – Provide for the integration of people of all levels and abilities; not segregation with separate activities.
- Compliance – Comply with the “spirit” of accessibility legislation and regulations, as well as the “letter” of the law.
- Universal Design – Adhere to the principles of Universal Design in all planning, design, and construction activities.
Best Management Practices
BLM uses a variety of best management practices in its Accessibility Program. Adherence to these management practices results in achieving its accessibility goals in a more cost effective and efficient manner. These practices include:
- Use the BLM “Guide for a Quality Built Environment” to ensure Universal Design principles are implemented
- Strictly adherence to accessibility standards in all new construction and retrofit projects
- Systematic evaluation of physical and programmatic accessibility at developed recreation sites to determine agency level of accessibility and the identification of needs for corrective action
- Development of long range goals and corresponding performance measures for accessibility