A more universally accessible
Mather Point reopened to the public at the end of 2010. (NPS Photo by
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Previously inaccessible to people using a
wheelchair, the Grand Canyon National Park’s Mather Point has undergone a
massive overhaul. Opened in late 2010, this stunning overlook offers universal
access to the awe inspiring views once only accessible to the ambulatory.
“The National Park Service
has outdone itself”, says Pete Fischer, Owner of Access.Architectural, LLC, an
Accessibility Consulting and Design firm in Phoenix, Arizona.
As a wheelchair user, Mr.
Fischer understands how difficult it can be to access many of the natural
wonders of the world. He understands that it is not logical to expect
wheelchair access everywhere in the world, but encourages out-of-the-box
thinking when designing locations such as Mather Point. “So many sites and
buildings can be universally designed for all types of disabilities; we just
need to be creative”, says Fischer.
For over 50 years, Mather Point has been the
primary location where millions of visitors have had their first view of the
Grand Canyon. In May of 2008 the National Park Service (NPS) made plans to
create an auto-free pedestrian experience with
opportunities for viewing along the canyon rim. They took this challenge,
and used universal design practices to create an ADA accessible overlook at one
of the most visited sites on the South Rim.
“The designers of the
remodeled Mather Point have achieved a unique harmony between existing stairs
and landscaping, new accessible elements, and the wonderful natural views of the
Grand Canyon”, says Fischer, and he encourages others to visit the Grand
Canyon’s South Rim, to see this well planned, well executed universally designed