National Center on Accessibility Continues Extraordinary 25 Plus Year Record Unites with Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands

Two individuals shaking hands.

Indiana University’s National Center on Accessibility, one of the first institutions focusing on recreation access for people with disabilities, continues to serve the nation with technical assistance and training since it was created in 1993.   As a unit, the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) serves national, state, and local parks working across the nation.   Since 1993, NCA is estimated to have provided support and assistance for over 250 locations in the form of consulting, training to 5,000 individuals, and technical assistance to over 10,000 requests. The specialized focus of NCA is critical to advancing knowledge of, programs for, and access for people with disabilities.  NCA staff, led by Director of Training and Technical Assistance Ray Bloomer, an NPS employee assigned to NCA at its founding, conducting training for Tennessee state parks recently, and continues to be engaged in programs, research, and assistance across the nation.

In 2018, the NCA staff of Sherril York, Ray Bloomer, Alice Voight, Cindy Somers, Kellie Seaton, Linda Robertson and Nan Smith served a wide variety of agencies and individuals most notably a series of Targeted Accessibility Improvement Projects (TAIP) and other projects for the U.S. National Park Service.  Consulting on physical and program access, NCA helped improve accessibility across the nation at:

National Park System
  1. Devils Tower
  2. Steamtown
  3. Sleeping Bear Dunes
  4. Perry’s Victory
  5. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller 
  6. Klondike Gold Rush
  7. Saratoga Springs 
  8. Independence 
  9. Mammoth Caves
  10. San Francisco Maritime
  11. Thomas Jefferson
  12. Sequoia-Kings Canyon
  13. Salem Maritime
  14. Horace Albright Training Center, Grand Canyon National Park

Notably, NCA Executive Director Sherril York’s retirement in December 2018 led to a pilot effort  to ascertain how NCA and Eppley Institute staff collaborated together, and in July 2019, the two long time and highly regarded public land management units combined into one.   Executive Director Steve Wolter now leads an impressive and focused set of platforms including:

  • The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands — created in 1993 serving over 100 different agencies, in over 450 projects across the nation
  • The National Center on Accessibility — described above
  • proValens Learning — a online learning platform having developed over 300 online courses and certificates in parks, public lands, and outdoor recreation geared toward professional learning and development with 30,000 plus learners
  • Great Lakes Park Training Institute — serving the Midwest and a larger population of park, public land and outdoor recreation professionals who have met annually in Northern Indiana for learning events since 1947, this annual conference continues to serve an important role in the profession
  • World Park Academy — created in 2013, the Academy serves as the learning and certification arm for the World Urban Parks, an international professional park and recreation organization serving an 1,000 members and supporting important policy programs like the national park city program, and world urban park conferences
  • Playground Maintenance Technicians (PMT) Training — partnering with the Park District Risk Management Association (Illinois) the PMT is the only training program focusing on training the individuals who maintain playgrounds daily. Jointly offered since 2016, the PMT relies on trainers who travel across the nation to deliver this important service

More information is available about the services offered by the Eppley Institute across these platforms.  Email Executive Director, Steve Wolter at for information, to ask questions, or learn more about the types of services offered.

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