Beyond Management and Sustainability: Visitor Experiences of Physical Accessibility in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA

Rachel JC Chen


The National Center on Accessibility sponsored this study to identify the perceptions and attitudes of people with physical disabilities toward their experiences related to physical accessibility in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A total of 300 questionnaires were distributed to individuals with disabilities onsite. Of these questionnaires, 122 completed and usable questionnaires were collected. The physical accessibility problems in the park identified by visitors with physical disabilities were lack of the width of doorways in restrooms, followed by lack of accessible trails, lack of grab bars in restrooms, and lack of curb cuts. The uniqueness of this project is that it represents the first time focusing on the perceptions and expectations of visitors with physical disabilities regarding the accessibility in an individual national park. In order to further understand accessibility in the US National Park Service, future research may consider collecting these patterns and attitudes from people with and without different disabilities (such as physical disabilities, hearing impairment, visual impairment) at various national park units (national parks, national historical sites, national parkways, and national monuments) at the state, regional, and national levels.

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Journal of Management and Sustainability   ISSN 1925-4725 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4733 (Online)


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