KOA Report Analyzes Campground Accessibility

A picture of a magnifying glass, a graph and a silver pen

Kampgrounds of America (KOA) conducted the association’s first camping and outdoor accessibility research report. “The Outdoor Accessibility: Charting Paths to Inclusion” report was released Wednesday.

The report factored in physical, cognitive and socio-economic aspects those with disabilities face. Socio-economic factors included finance, residence and ethnicity.

KOA conducted their report considering four accessibility components: cognitive, visual, motor/mobility and auditory. The report explored barriers in addition to incidence and behavior those with disabilities face in camping and outdoor environments.

KOA Senior Vice President of Strategy Whitney Scott said, “In 2023, our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion at KOA was dedicated to understanding and envisioning accessibility in outdoor spaces and companies. Knowledge is half the battle, which is why we share the data we have collected to bring more awareness to what an accessible outdoors means.”

Around 1 billion people live with one or more disabilities, the report said. While 27% of U.S. residents live with disabilities, 38% of campers surveyed had disabilities.

The report analyzed areas for accessibility improvement. A total of 46% of respondents said accessibility improvement is needed in essential infrastructure such as bathrooms. More than a third (37%) reported improvements needed in level or smooth pathways. A third (32%) listed knowing in advance which campgrounds offer better or adequate accessibility as a growth area.

A picture of a KOA resort sign at the edge of woods near a mountain.

A total of 30% reported campground accessibility accommodations as an area to improve and 29% said navigating the campground during their stay is an area campgrounds need to improve on.

Having specialty equipment or gear at the campgrounds was a concern for 27% of respondents. Visual impairment information layout needed improvement, according to 24% of those surveyed. Having others to help or assist was an area campgrounds can improve on for 23%.

The report conveyed additional barriers to camping. A total of 37% of respondents said they had difficulty finding locations or campgrounds accommodating physical needs while a third said transportation to the campground is a barrier. Respondents reported buying camping gear as a challenge (31%) and 18% reported non-physical ability health issues as a barrier to camping.

Scott said, “Moving into 2024, we are committed to building on what we have learned through programs, design and initiatives to create a more accessible outdoors and workplace environment.”

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