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Architects Inspire Fun and a Good Soak at San Antonio Theme Park, Splash Park
Add a whimsical architectural design, eye-popping candy colors, gallons of water and squeals of delight
from happy children and you have the makings of an award-winning splash park for children of all ages.
Morgan’s Inspiration Island in San Antonio is the newest addition to 25-acre Morgan’s Wonderland
theme park. The ultra-accessible™ 4-acre splash park was designed specifically for children and adults
with disabilities, their families and friends. The tropically-themed complex features accessible splash
pads and a river ride built for wheelchairs. The park even has waterproof wheelchairs powered by
compressed air that allows the rider to experience gentle sprays or a spontaneous soaking from huge
dumping buckets. For many children, this is the first time they have been able to enjoy so many features
of a water attraction, and if pictures and videos are any measure, the park is really making a splash!
Luna Middleman Architects, representing a recent merger of two of the most-established architecture
firms in San Antonio (Luna Architecture + Design and MDN Architects), created the park design, which
has netted numerous awards.
According to firm owner Robert Luna, “The opportunity to design a theme park with inclusivity and
seamless accessible transitions that can embrace everyone was our greatest challenge while we were
creating Morgan’s Wonderland. However, we found if you love people and have compassion for those
who have physical or cognitive disabilities, this task became an enjoyable breakthrough in our design
process and proved that when you face an obstacle… you find the solution or just create it! The same
was true in our design of Morgan’s Inspiration Island.”
Among its many awards, the splash park has received a prestigious recognition from the Paralyzed
Veterans of America for its 2018 Barrier-Free America Award that honors excellence in the philosophy
and execution of accessible design principles. In 2011, Accessibility Professionals Association (under its
former name) and the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities lauded the Morgan’s
Wonderland effort with their annual award in Austin, Texas.
Morgan’s Wonderland and ultimately Morgan’s Inspiration Island came about as a frustrated father
watched as his own special-needs daughter Morgan was snubbed during a vacation by kids playing in a
hotel swimming pool. San Antonio businessman Gordon Hartman decided to use his business acumen
and a chunk of his own money to build $36-million Morgan’s Wonderland, which opened in 2010. He
followed a similar game plan prior to the 2017 opening of $17-million Morgan’s Inspiration Island –
consulting with doctors, therapists, parents, educators and people with special needs on what an ultra-
accessible splash park would include. Today, a variety of donors, foundations and corporations
supports these non-profit enterprises.
More information about these unique parks designed with special-needs individuals in mind can be
found here: www.MorgansWonderland.com.
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Why Hire an Accessibility Professional?
Complying with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and state-specific building accessibility codes and requirements can be a complex and challenging process. An APA professional can help you smoothly navigate through every phase of your new or remodel project to achieve accessibility and avoid any costly headaches arising from noncompliance. Whether it’s a public building or privately owned structure leased or occupied by government agencies, a place of public accommodation, or a commercial facility, an APA member can help with accessibility planning and compliance.
Search our Find a Professional page for APA specialists.
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Door Openers – and Closers!
When was the last time you had trouble getting in the front door of a business? You may not have noticed a few pesky steps or an extra bit of exertion to enter the building. But, for someone in a wheelchair, or a frail, elderly person, it might as well have a “Closed” sign on the door.
Luckily, there is an organization that helps individuals gain access to commercial entities by helping builders, architects and engineers understand the rules and regulations of accessibility. Guiding this process from the ground up, the national organization, Accessibility Professionals Association (APA), has members who can help a building owner design a structure that intuitively accommodates many types of disabilities.
Architects and engineers can take advantage of classes and conferences offered by APA that sort out and streamline standards provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is commonly known as the ADA. This landmark legislation, signed into law on July 26, 1990, prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Despite its widespread acceptance, violations occur regularly. For example, in Texas, Registered Accessibility Specialists (RASs) are licensed by the State to ensure buildings have had their building plans reviewed and inspected to ensure compliance with accessibility regulations. These rules apply not only to new buildings but to buildings which undergo substantial renovations.
Savvy business owners are wise to keep their doors wide open to this growing group of people with disabilities. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly one in five people have a disability. And, that number will reflect the growing number of baby boomers who will enlist the help of canes, walkers, and wheelchairs as they pursue an active lifestyle in retirement. Research has shown that adding simple touches like ramps, better lighting and larger signage, which are used by many, is appreciated by many and often helps create better overall designs.
In fact, one small item that helps the disabled come through the doors is ironically called a “closer” – a mechanical device that keeps a door open for 20 seconds. This bit of hands-free time is welcomed by all who enter. For more information on how you can keep “Open for business” meaning open for all, contact Accessibility Professionals Association (APA) http://www.accessibilityprofessionals.orgAPA had a Booth at the AIA Conference in NYC
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Board Members Paul Glenn and Carroll Pruitt promoted APA and its members at our booth on June 21 and 22. We'll hear more about this in our September newsletter!
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Continuing Education* Classes
APA is a group of Professionals dedicated to accessibility in all aspects of the physical experience in the built environment for persons with disabilities. APA offers related education on a regular basis during the year which is open to members, as well as the public. *See note on left blue navigation bar.
( for AIA, ICC, TAS, ACTCP )
Upcoming Session - August 10- Plano, TX or via Webinar
Plano-APA Regional CE Training-Webinars- 4-8 Hour Option - 8/10/2018
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Be an Exhibitor or Sponsor for the 2019 Annual Conference & Expo near Austin, TX
When you attend the APA Annual Meeting as a exhibitor, you get exclusive face-to-face time with over 200 Accessibility Specialists and related professionals – those who regularly consult and collaborate with architects, builders, and others who help maintain accessibility in the built environment. The Annual Meeting not only provides you with a unique, in-person environment to discuss and promote your products and services, it offers a cost-effective way to raise your company’s profile through strategic name placement and public recognition. Click the links to see the most recent 2018 Conference Schedule
Guidelines and draft conference schedules for the January 30-February 1, 2019 APA Annual Conference & Expo will be available no later than September 1, 2018. For questions contact our staff at email@example.com
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Four questions Google Maps has for YOU
Google Maps offers a handy way to navigate but often leaves mobility-impaired people wondering, unsure if their route will accommodate wheelchairs, walkers or other adaptive equipment. Now, Google is asking their users to answer four questions related to accessibility to improve and increase knowledge:
Is there a wheelchair-accessible entrance?
Is there wheelchair-accessible seating?
Is there wheelchair-accessible parking?
Is there a wheelchair-accessible elevator?
For those who may not understand the implications, Google furnishes a description for each of these questions. While rather basic, users are able to refine the information with comments, even noting helpful details like the number of steps, location of nearby elevators, or restroom size.
Thanks to a brigade of voluntary contributors, information is added daily about transit systems, parks and trails, local eateries and businesses. Ideally, Google hopes to add Street View imagery of transit stations so that individuals with many types of disabilities can gauge their level of access and better plan their trips.
But, for the 12 million (and counting!) places available via the maps, noting accessible features will take time. Google officially rolled out the accessible maps for London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney this spring. However, anyone can add information for other locations. It is also easy to become a local Google Guide, and the company encourages Meet-Up events to connect like-minded guides who see the benefits of marking routes of all sorts for the full use of all people.
For ambitious trail markers, Google loans out its Google Street View trekker cameras to organizations or municipalities that want to show the “street view” type equivalent off-road. For many, the device enables armchair travelers to skip the hike and enjoy the scenery digitally.
Google notes that some 65 million individuals use wheelchairs. While this limited information about wheelchair access may not help everyone navigate, it opens the doors for users to participate and help make the world a little wider for everyone.
APA Conference Highlighted in ICC eNews
Accessibility Professionals Association (APA)
You’re Invited! Join us today to take advantage of the many membership benefits available. APA is an association of professionals focusing on accessibility in the built environment. We are a dynamic and diverse organization open to all professionals interested in understanding and maintaining accessibility in the United States and around the globe. We are the premier provider of Continuing Education (CEU) in accessibility standards and regulations. See more About Us !
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From the article:
The Accessibility Professionals Association (APA) held a successful Annual Conference & Expo in February featuring three days of national and local speakers and training. A Premium Sponsor of the APA Annual Conference, the Code Council spoke with attendees on the latest code publications and documents during the expo. Courses offered by the APA at national and regional training events receive ICC continuing education credits. ICC members are welcome to join next year's APA Annual Conference being held Jan. 30–Feb. 1, 2019, in Austin, Texas.
To read more from ICC eNews.
To learn more about the International Code Council.