November 19, 2019
Accessibility Done Right: Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Just outside of the small town of Florissant, Colorado, lies one of the most diverse fossil deposits in the world. In 1969, the area was established as Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in order to protect and preserve the fossils for “future generations to study and enjoy.” Since then, tens of thousands of visitors have come to the park to learn about the fossil record, redwood forests, and volcanic eruptions, along with the people who have lived in the area since pre-historic times.
In 2013, a permanent visitor center, museum, and research facility was built and a geologic trail was dedicated and opened to the public. These, and other park features, were created to ensure that everyone has access to this national treasure, including those with disabilities.
For example, people with mobility disabilities will find that the visitor center, associated outdoor exhibit area, and the half-mile, self-guided Ponderosa Loop Trail are fully wheelchair accessible (although the trail may be snow-covered in winter).
In addition, the Monument’s 15-minute orientation film is captioned for those who are d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing. For those who are blind or low vision, the visitor center exhibits and the park film, “Shadows of the Past” are accessible through audio description (ask for headsets and instructions at the front desk).
Even the bathrooms are extra welcoming for people with disabilities, down to the detail of placing coat hooks at a lower level for those in wheelchairs or who are of short stature.
While most people expect the Monument to comply to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it’s a federal entity, it’s a shining example to other public venues about what is possible. From creating accessible paths of travel to little touches like the placement of coat hooks and mirrors, there are many innovative ways to make the world more friendly and accessible to people of all ages and abilities. All it takes is some planning and forethought.
Have you come across a business or organization that’s “doing it right” when it comes to accessibility? We’d love to hear about it! Post about it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) with the hashtag #accessiblecos. Be sure to include photos if you have them!
And if you need help advocating for accessibility in your own life, contact our Advocacy department at 719-471-8181.