We often say that when you design for disability, everyone benefits. Our new office is designed universally, but we also challenge others in the community to think beyond ADA requirements. Fort Wayne Parks added details to the new Promenade Park on the riverfront to ensure that all can enjoy Downtown Fort Wayne’s newest destination. With the help of a team made up of representatives from several disability focused organizations, they created a park that is truly for everyone.
The great thing about true inclusion is that many of the accessible features are not obvious to those that don’t need them. A tactile ribbon runs along the path in the park. To those without visual impairment, it’s a nice design feature. However, paired with a 3D printed map of the park, the ribbon allows those with visual impairment to find their way. You will also notice more frequent seams in the concrete so that those who struggle with depth perception, such as individuals with Parkinson ’s disease, will not lose focus on the path. Even after heavy rain, the lawn stays firm due to a special layer beneath the surface that enables drainage. Those using wheelchairs, crutches, or strollers can easily access the lawn and enjoy the grass!
More obvious accessibility features are also present. The family restroom inside the pavilion includes a changing table large enough to fit an adult, respecting the dignity of all park visitors. Speaking of restrooms, two of the three stalls in the restrooms are large enough for a wheelchair and there are large restrooms on the back side of the pavilion as well. The tree canopy path is wide enough for those in wheelchairs to access the great view. Benches and swings are ample in the park, making it easy to find a spot to rest. A floating dock allows for the ability to hop into a kayak from a wheelchair and all docks have detectable warning strips for those with visual impairment.
Side-by- side recreation is integral to full inclusion, and this park delivers. The playground features accessible, as well as sensory stimulating play. The soft rubber surface allows wheelchairs to access each part of the playground while still providing a soft landing in case of a fall. Slides begin at the path so there are no ladders to climb to the top. Large musical instruments create an inviting experience where kids and adults can make music together. On the other side of the river, a concrete wall designed as seating has wheelchair access at every row, meaning you no longer have a secluded section. The splash pad is zero entry, and is at the end of a stream that you can roll or walk up to cool off on a hot summer day.
Think about these features. How many of them do you feel that, even if you don’t have a disability, could enhance your experience in the park? Anyone with a stroller can take advantage of most of these features. Everyone can benefit from the lawn that remains firm. We are excited for everyone to make use of all this park has to offer and play side-by-side with neighbors and friends of all abilities. Join us at the grand opening on August 9th.