Monday, July 18, 2022

Accessibility Review: Walsingham Park

Accessibility Grade: A
I've been a power wheelchair user since the age of three, so you can say that I've become pretty good at sniffing out things like accessibility. Whether you're looking for a great place to hang out this summer, or you're searching for a spot to hang out once the weather eventually cools off, this park has a lot to offer. Walsingham Park offers a number of amenities. Paired with the overall accessibility of the place, this park stands is great for the entire family.

Visible in the picture above, which showcases the park entrance, extra-wide paths wind their way through the 354 acres that make up Walsingham Park. Since these walkways are also smooth, they are ideal for wheelchair users, hand cyclists, and people who use different kinds of mobility devices. While there's plenty of room for three wheelchairs users to stroll side-by-side, cyclists zoom through these paths at high speeds. If you're visually impaired, it would be a good idea to stick to the right side of the sidewalk. In the instance where you may take up both side of the sidewalk, be ready to move out of the way for cyclists.
As you make your way through the park, you'll pass a number of parking lots. In case of an emergency, make sure to pick a space that will have the shortest travel distance for you. That way, if anything may happen to your mobility device(s), you won't be too far from your vehicle. Bathrooms are stationed by these lots, all of which should be fashioned with accessible stalls. In this image, Kyle's blue Toyota Sienna is parked in an accessible space. Its rear passenger door is opened, and the lift is deployed. In the background is one of the park's public restrooms. It is brownish in color, covered in stones that range in color from tan to grey.
We ended up parking close to a few of the pavilions that are located within the park. These individually-covered spaces contain a number of picnic tables and are a great place to get out of the Florida sun. On nice days, these areas make great venues for hosting get-togethers like birthday parties and family reunions. The path is plenty wide for a wheelchair user to navigate, and might be able to accommodate two wheelchairs side-by-side. It leads through a patch of grass, in between a few trees, and ends at a pavilion. It's decorated in the same style as the bathroom, with stones that range from tan to grey, and houses two rows of picnic tables.
If you're searching for a place to spend time with your pup, you may want to try out the dog park, which is located within Walsingham Park. It features a fence that stands about five feet tall. In front of it is a water fountain that has sculptures of two dogs, one which is sitting down, while the other is lying down. There is a brown sign behind it which lists the dog park's rules.
The playground is close to the dog park. In this picture, you can see that the path ends at the playground's entrance, which may pose a problem for some manual wheelchair users. There were a number of leaves on the ground, which made it difficult to determine whether there were pockets of soft sand. Since soft sand causes manual and power wheelchairs to get stuck, they can be hazardous and dangerous for wheelchair users. This area of the park was the only area that appeared to have some accessibility issues, though we didn't test this out completely. 
What's nice about this park is that it's paths take visitors through wooded areas, like the one in this picture, which are usually inaccessible for wheelchair users and people who use mobility equipment. In areas where trees grow over these wide sidewalks, they offer a bit of shade from the sun. It's a great way to be in nature, without the added worry that your wheelchair will get stuck. In this picture, it's clear that Kyle has plenty of room to comfortable and safely drive his wheelchair along this paved path. To his left are a few ferns and some grass, where there are trees to his right and in front of him.
There are a few areas of the trail that'll take you alongside Walsingham Lake. At 100 acres, there are a wide variety of aquatic plants and animals that call this park home. There are even a few gazebos and docks that are a great place to relax and watch the wildlife. In this picture, Kyle is on a concrete path, patrtially covered by the shade of a large tree. To his right, a tiny gazebo stands at the edge of the lake. A man is reading there.
Aside from the playground area, Walsingham Park is very accessible. Though there aren't a ton of flashy features, the scenery is beautiful and offers a decent amount of shade. Depending on the season, I imagine that Walsingham Lake is a great destination for bird watchers, and other wildlife enthusiasts. In this final picture, Kyle is shown looking out over Walsingham Lake. To his right is a dense forest, while the lake is to his left. There are some beautiful reeds that dot the shoreline, which have tiny purple flowers at their tops.

Author & Producer:
Kyle Romano

Luis Rodriguez

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