Welcome to the home of Adaptive Camping. Where I explore challenges and solutions for those like myself who are wheelchair users and persons with disabilities so more people can have the choice of exploring the outdoors independently. Our climate is changing so there’s no better time than the present to go out and witness our pale blue dot we call home.
Here in Australia, we have less than ideal accessibility for those with disabilities when it comes to exploring our parkland, national parks & wilderness. Currently things are accessible or not accessible, but disability is not binary and can affect access to places just as much.
Not every disability is equal, and neither is access to our parkland with no unified system in Australia yet that helps those with disabilities or mobility problems have the information needed to explore those spaces safely. I am proposing an accessibility grading system where, not only those with disabilities and their carers can learn what to expect in advance, but assist locals and tourists to explore the same area and have same level of independent choice of challenges or safety that able-bodied users of our parkland have available to them. This will help us reach the principles of universal access that are laid out by the local governments and the United Nations
I have designed a graphical system and statistical framework that can be used digitally and/or physically without it interrupting or replacing any existing systems.
It is a grading number between 0 and 4 to denote the mobility and independence needs of the trail, campsite or recreation area. Not all disabilities are equal and neither are tracks, trails and sites and this kind of informative system can help persons with mobility issues or disabilities make informed decisions on where they can and want to explore.
If you would like to read the specifics, you can by clicking here.
Grade 4 – Above and beyond accessible (Suited to high-needs persons with disabilities and recognises places who go beyond basic requirements)
Grade 3 – Meets accessibility legislation
Grade 2 – Accessible but challenging (accessible for active wheelchair users and those who wish to avoid stairs)
Grade 1 – Minimal maintained accessibility (accessible to those with minor mobility issues but not wheelchair accessible. For example, contains stairs and/or too steep for wheelchairs)
Grade 0 – Has no maintained accessibility (Suited for able bodied and/or experienced hikers, trails not regularly maintained etc)
How Can This Benefit People
Here are some examples of real-world situations that this kind of system can help.
Physiotherapists and medical professionals can prescribe physical activity for rehabilitation and prescribe a known grade that would be safe for the client’s mobility level and has this opportunity for being informed about conditions before exploring.
Mental health professionals will have the resources available to prescribe activities in the outdoors that match the client’s physical skill level which has been shown to be an underutilised tool to help combat depression, anxiety etc.
Active Wheelchair users can find new areas to explore without worrying about reaching unexpected impassable barriers
Carers and Support Workers can find more outdoors options for peoples physical and mental well-being that match their clients level of independence.
Disability support groups would have the ability to plan excursions for their clients that are best adapted to their groups mobility level while still able to create a challenge if they want.
Tourists with mobility issues can have easy access to find out what they have available to do and participate in at their skill level with minimal learning.
These grading metrics can provide crucial information to government parkland management agencies to see if there is more access challenges in some parks and landmarks than others.