Outdoors for Everyone: Water Accessibility Checklist

This summer, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has launched an exciting expansion of its 'Outdoors for Everyone' initiative, with a dedicated focus on water accessibility. This initiative aims to break down barriers and foster an inclusive environment where all individuals living with or impacted by paralysis can enjoy a wide range of water-based activities. From accessible kayaking and adaptive water sports to simply enjoying a beautiful beach day, the Foundation is committed to ensuring that everyone can join in summer fun.

The 'Outdoors for Everyone' initiative was piloted in 2023 with a focus on making outdoor trails and parks accessible for wheelchair users and others living with disabilities. This year's expansion builds on that foundation by connecting the community to various existing water accessibility programs across the nation. It continues to serve as an educational resource, providing water accessibility tips and raising awareness about opportunities for inclusive water recreation throughout the United States.

As part of this initiative, the Reeve Foundation's highly trained Information Specialist team plays a crucial role in helping to identify accessible pools, beaches, and other water programs. They provide information to help community members plan day trips and vacations, utilizing Reeve's Resource Map -- an online tool that assists in locating accessible resources, equipment, and programs nationwide.

Outdoors for Everyone: Water Accessibility ChecklistTo further support water accessibility, the Reeve Foundation has developed a new 'Water Accessibility Checklist' for the community and outdoor organizations. This checklist includes recommendations and tips tailored to beaches, pools, and other water organizations, ensuring that people living with disabilities can fully enjoy these spaces. Recommendations cover everything from necessary website and map information for accessibility before arrival, to accessible parking spaces, and details on accessible activities and safety considerations during the visit.

Recommendations from the ‘Water Accessibility Checklist’ include:

  • Before Arrivals: Necessary website and map information for accessibility; training requirements for lifeguards and other personnel
  • Arrivals and Departures: Details on accessible parking spaces; understanding of wheelchair transfers and transfer devices
  • Things to Do: Recommendations on water-accessible activities, from using beach access mats, accessible boats and other water sports, use of accessible flotation devices, and even adaptive fishing
  • Safety and Health Tips: Special considerations for conditions often affecting those living with disabilities; general water and pool safety tips to prevent injury

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This initiative not only enhances accessibility but also enriches the lives of individuals with paralysis and their caregivers, providing them with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the joy and benefits of nature-based activities. Through education, partnerships, and dedicated efforts, the Reeve Foundation is paving the way for a more inclusive and accessible outdoor experience for everyone.

Click here to download the checklist (PDF).

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About the Author - Reeve Foundation Staff

This blog was written by the Reeve Foundation for educational purposes. For more information please reach out to information@christopherreeve.org

Reeve Foundation Staff

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10,000,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.