CYNTHIA BURKHOUR: I echo everyone else who's testified, thanks for the opportunity to come and address the Access Board and to be a part of this public process, I really appreciate that. I am Cindy Burkhour, I'm from Jennison, Michigan. And I was a member of the outdoor developed area's are Regulatory Negotiation Committee and the privilege of serving in that process and it was a wonderful process to be a part of, to be a part of the group that developed the original final report.
I'm also a member of the NRPA. A working group that developed the comments that we're putting forward representing the National Recreation and Park Association. And on a personal note, I'm the parent of a child who has a disability from a stroke when she was 12 but I also have an older brother who has multiple developmental disabilities. So I have been affected by accessibility issues my entire life within my family. And so the -- kind of the perspective I move forward with in my comments are both professional as well as personal.
Why should these rules move forward? If you look at my daughter's face, I think it's relatively clear. Anybody have any questions about why -- and the impact of inaccessible designs in outdoor environments? This is the park by our house. Director of Parks and Recreation. Not a very good design. I took our daughter to the park and I said c'mon, I went over and measured, we can do this. And here we are on the trail from our house to the playground that she actually help built. And here she is stuck on the bridge and I thought never noticed that before. It was not an intentional design to keep her out but it was a design that was not very well thought out from an accessibility standpoint. It was a ah-hah point from me as a mom but also as a recreational professional. In our committee when we talked about things we would like to encourage the board to do in relationship to issuing this regulation is sooner rather than later. And it is absolutely critical to create greater accessibility because those people, parks and recreation professionals like me, do not create things like this in order to keep people like my daughter out. It happens because we didn't think about it or we weren't sure how to do it and we really think that this rule is an absolute necessity in giving us the guidelines in parks and recreation on how to do this in a thoughtful way that really does create greater access for everybody.
And it is important to move forward with regulations. After implementation, we've got a couple of thoughts. Number one is there is going to be a huge need for a nationwide effort to really educate people about what the rule says, what it means, how you should apply it, and a part of that process needs to be the evaluation process. People need to learn how to go out and evaluate an outdoor environment for accessibility to identify barriers and then to learn how to use this rule and implement it.
And so one of the things that we would really like to encourage as a next step after the rules are implemented, and I think that NRPA can take a leadership rule in assisting with this, is developing some opportunities for education so that people know how to interpret it and how to take the rules and implement them in a thoughtful manner in the environment.
Second thing is there is a need to showcase best practice demonstrations. In very creative, cost effective ways. There's a kind of a fear out there that people say, gee whiz, this is going to cost us a lot. And we really believe that if you do thoughtful design and planning upfront that the cost does not have to be overwhelming.
Couple things that I have on the screen here is my friend, Rory Calhoun, from out in Washington, he's in a hand cranked device in a conveyance over a gorge. It was an alternative way of moving people from one side of big gorge, it's a great experience, it's independently operable and it was a part of the trail system. It was a very creative thing and way to move people across an outdoor environment.
On the left is an open bottom viewing boat that was built by the Department of Natural Resources in Michigan at Palms Book State Park. And that is open water through a spring to a 45-foot-deep spring. It is an open well. The rails are low enough that you can view over them, but we also have one whole Plexiglas wall on the viewing station so that even little children can look right down in there, if you are seated in a wheelchair, you have a good viewing line. And we have some open spindle areas where you don't have even the Plexiglas between you and the water for viewing. So it was a very thoughtful design and it's hand operated by a wheel that you see in the back there. Another great creative design. These things, a lot of people don't know about them. So we encourage some effort toward showcasing great demonstrations because, there again, people just don't know how to do it and I think there's great opportunities out there.
And the third point is there is a need for technical assistance to really facilitate creative problem solving and to ensure successful implementation.
The Access Board does a huge job in technical assistance and they do a great job. And that is going to be an ongoing need as these regulations need to be implemented. The technical assistance is a huge piece so we really encourage you to take that and put some resources behind that technical assistance opportunity.
It can be done. A part of this rule does not require you to take people into the water and a lot of people say, yeah, but how do you do that? The top slide is a lake that has a 28-foot change of water level over the course of a season. This has a switchback ramp is several entry points into a transfer system that you can access and transfer into the water, all the way down into the water, at any point in the season. And it's ramped access as well as the transfer access, a combination. So there are ways to do it. People just don't have a lot of experience of how to do that.
There are people with significant disabilities -- this is a campground host at one of our state parks in the upper peninsula. There's a perception out there that people who have significant disabilities don't do things like hike and camp. And we really think that it's important to demonstrate through the technical assistance, through the education and training, that it is important for everyone because people, even with significant disabilities, want to do what everybody else does.
On the bottom left we have a creative solution. Those are mining conveyor belts as a temporary beach access route at a camp that happened to have some kids with disabilities that were going to be at camp and they called up and said, we don't know how to do this, and they said well you need some type of over the sand and into Lake Michigan. And when I went in for the visit they had gotten the mining company to give them conveyor belts. It works. No electric, no tech solutions. So we really encourage the Access Board to move forward with the regulations and continue with your wonderful technical assistance. And we'd love to work with you together on training and education. So that everybody implements it in a thoughtful manner so that everybody has access. Thank you.
PHILIP PEARCE [BOARD MEMBER]: I've got a couple of follow-up -- more comments than questions but I think it supports what you're saying. The first thing I would say is I agree completely with you about the idea of who this is for because I'm a wheelchair user and have been for almost 35 years. The fact of the matter is I'm not looking at this for anybody to do this for me. I'm looking for them to do it for you and for you, and for everybody out here. Because if you don't have a person in your immediate family who is -- has a disability, the chances are pretty good that you will. And so when you look at this, you need to really look at it from a perspective that this is really doing it for everyone, and not for just those of us who currently have disabilities.
And the other thing I want to echo is related to creativity and I want to applaud the NRPA members particularly. I went through the exhibits back here and I was just stunned at some of the creativity that they have in some areas like playground equipment and that sort of thing and I think there's some great strides forward. I think probably that this rule will generate interest in continuing to be innovative and creative in ways that they resolve some of these issues.
I really appreciated the idea of having the hand-cranked transfer device across the gorge as opposed to [---] because I know one of the things that we run into as people say, well, it's going to be so intrusive that it's just going to ruin the whole experience. Well, that didn't ruin anything for anybody. In fact, what we'd probably find out is a lot of people without disabilities are going to use that to get across the gorge. So I appreciate those comments. And appreciate you coming here and sharing those with us.
CINDY BURKHOUR: We find kids love the wheel that's a hand crank for that boat thing and they love it because it's a fun thing for them to do.
Could I add one comment on a personal note, this is not testimony as the national parks and recreation committee person, but I personally believe it is really important that -- I would like to see the rule require that accessible design for all elements, every picnic table in the future ought to be required to be accessible, every grill ought to be accessible. Every boat operating thing like that ought to be accessible. So that if the person gets to that element, that there is that expectation that I will be able to picnic, I will be able to use the grill, I will be able to camp, do whatever, and I encourage you to take the greatest opportunity to change you how the outdoor environment is accessed by requiring all the elements, the support things to be accessible. And that's a personal note.
PHILIP PEARCE: Great, all right, thank you very much.