Accessibility of Fitness and Recreation Facilities for Persons with Disabilities in a Metropolitan City
Laiser, Anat M.
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A study of the overall accessibility of fitness facilities in the greater Chicago area was conducted using the Fisher exact test and distribution analysis of data collected from a variety of fitness providers. Specifically, “accessibility” in this study referred to the ease of access each facility provided to individuals with disabilities that limit physical mobility. In all, three types of fitness facilities were identified and compared, including YMCA, franchises, and independently owned businesses. Each of the three types of fitness facilities was represented equally by five locations, for a total sample size of 15 locations. A validated and reliable measurement guide of accessibility was used to evaluate the conditions of the following features of each facility: 1) swimming pool, 2) professional behavior of staff, 3) policies, 4) equipment, 5) elevator, 6) information, 7) bathroom, 8) professional support and staff training, 9) locker room, 10) telephone, 11) entrance areas, 12) hot tubs/saunas, 13) water fountain, 14) parking lot, 15) fitness program, and 16) physical assessment. Results from the study were mixed and provide insight into the fitness and accessibility literature. In contrast to other studies, a majority of all facilities in the study were scored to be compliant with accessibility standards. However in accordance with previous research, analyses of the measurement data between three facility types supports the conclusion that franchise facilities were more accessible than independently-owned facilities. All facilities that participated in the present study have considerable deficiencies in accessibility and, therefore, room for improvement.