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Creating an Inclusive Beach Experience: Designing for Accessibility and Diversity

05/16/024 by Sebastien RAGON


A trip to the beach is one of life’s simplest pleasures. However, for some, such as individuals with disabilities, elderly visitors, or families with young children, a beach day can present a series of challenges. Designing an inclusive beach means creating a space where everyone, regardless of their physical abilities or age, can enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. Here’s how communities are transforming their coastal areas into welcoming spaces for all.


1. Accessible Walkways


An inclusive beach starts with accessibility. Beach walkways are essential for making the journey from the parking lot to the picnic area or the water's edge smooth and safe. These should be made from durable, non-slip materials like ACCESSDECK®USA, ACCESSMAT®, COCOPATH® and MR. BOARDWALK by ACCESSREC, providing a stable surface over sandy terrains. These pathways should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers comfortably. Please feel free to check the following link to learn more about beach accessibility matting solutions: https://www.accessrec.com/about-3

A blue beach accessibility and mobility matting system called ACCESSMAT by ACCESSREC
ACCESSMAT by ACCESSREC Town of Rye_NY

2. Adaptive Equipment


To ensure that everyone can enjoy the beach, adaptive equipment is key. This includes floating wheelchairs and walking frames designed for sandy and watery environments. Availability of these tools can make a huge difference in accessibility and enjoyment for those who otherwise might not be able to reach or enjoy the water. TERRAWHEELS® and WATERWHEELS® beach wheelchairs are designed to accommodate people with different abilities from the sand to the surf. Click on this link if you wish to learn more about our beach wheelchairs: https://www.accessrec.com/about-3

A brown accessibility and mobility beach mat called ACCESSMAT by ACCESSREC with an all terrain beach wheelchair called TERRAWHEELS by ACCESSREC
ACCESSMAT and TERRAWHEELS by ACCESSREC at Humboldt County_CA

3. Shade and Seating


Exposure to the elements can be one of the biggest barriers at the beach. Inclusive designs incorporate ample shaded areas and a variety of seating options, from benches and picnic areas to accessible sun loungers. This allows everyone, particularly those who cannot be in direct sunlight for long periods, to relax and enjoy the scenery.


4. Accessible Facilities


Restrooms, changing rooms, and showers should all be accessible, with features like wide doors, grab bars, and sufficient space to maneuver a wheelchair. Facilities should be clearly marked with large, legible signage, and incorporate braille where possible.


5. Sensory Considerations


Not everyone enjoys the hustle and bustle of a busy beach. Inclusive beaches might offer designated quiet zones where noise and activity are minimized, catering to visitors who are sensitive to overstimulation.


6. Safety Measures


Safety is a priority in any public space, and beaches are no exception. Lifeguards who are trained to assist people with varying needs, clear signage warning of potential hazards, and easily accessible first aid stations are all crucial components of an inclusive beach.


7. Programs and Activities


Offering programs that cater to various needs and abilities can significantly enhance the beach experience. This could include adaptive water sports, sensory-friendly beach games, and inclusive events that encourage community interaction and enjoyment.

A floating beach wheelchair called WATERWHEELS by ACCESSREC in use by a non profitable organization for its special beach event.
WATERWHEELS floating beach wheelchair

8. Community Input


Lastly, the best way to ensure a beach is inclusive is by involving the community in its design. Feedback from people with disabilities, local families, elderly residents, and other stakeholders can provide invaluable insights into how a beach can serve the needs of all its visitors.


Conclusion


Transforming a beach into an inclusive space doesn’t just open it up to more people; it enriches the experience for everyone. As we move towards more inclusive community planning, the hope is that one day, every beach will be accessible to all, making the joys of a seaside visit a universal pleasure. By embracing these principles, we can all contribute to creating welcoming, enjoyable spaces that truly embody the spirit of community and inclusivity.

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