The National Park Service (NPS) provides accessible facilities—including wheelchair-accessible trails, beaches, and campsites—and services. Many visitor centers have audio-described exhibits, tactile features for the blind, and captioned and audio-described videos as well as assistive listening devices in theaters and exhibits. Alternate formats for print materials such as braille, large-print, and audio versions may be available. Just as the opportunities and experiences offered by every park are different, accessibility features and services differ among parks. See the map on Plan Your Visit for links to accessibility information for each park.
Parks receive technical assistance and training to improve their accessibility from internal subject matter experts and from the local disability community. The NPS also collaborates with other federal agencies and national disability organizations. Each park has an accessibility coordinator, and each NPS region has a regional accessibility coordinator. These coordinators are supported by experts in the Washington, DC, office, the Denver Service Center, and Harpers Ferry Center for Media Services.
In May 2012, the NPS formed the Accessibility Task Force to improve our organizational approach to ensuring that national parks can be enjoyed by individuals with disabilities. The task force developed a five-year strategic plan, All In! Accessibility in the National Park Service, 2015–2020 (1.25MB PDF), for improving accessibility from fiscal year 2015 to 2020.
Upon conclusion of All In in September 2020, the NPS reviewed its servicewide accomplishments made during the period of the strategic plan. This effort resulted in a final strategic plan close-out report (PDF, 448KB).
The final report on the strategic plan highlights many advances the NPS should take pride in and that should serve as an impetus to push ahead with accessibility incorporated into everything we do. Examples of successes covered in the final report include:
- Completing of a report on accessibility competencies for NPS staff
- Increasing accessibility training available to the field
- Launching an external facing website, and an internal facing SharePoint site, to provide information on accessibility to visitor and employees
- Publishing an online Disability History series
- Initiating a project to audio describe NPS unigrids for people who are blind or low vision
- Assessing the accessibility of nearly 175 park units
- Funding numerous projects that will serve as examples of “entry to exit” accessibility
The final report is not an exhaustive explanation of every accomplishment of the NPS since FY 2015, rather, it is a strong indicator that the NPS is headed in the right direction.
Last updated: July 19, 2021