Parks Disability Services
Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces welcomes persons with disabilities in all of our facilities, programs and events.
We have programs exclusively for children and adults with disabilities run by Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists. We also have an Inclusion Initiative in which we assist children and adults with disabilities in getting involved in typical programs not geared specifically for persons with disabilities.
If you are attending a public meeting and would like to request accommodations please call 305-755-7848. Persons displaying a handicap parking placard, a Disabled American Veteran license plate, a Wheelchair User Symbol license plate or a similar item from another state or country, receive free parking at all parks. This free parking does not include launching a boat.
The Miami-Dade County Paralympics' Partners is a collaboration of organizations throughout the county that work together to expand opportunities throughout Miami-Dade for children and adults with physical and visual impairment to participate in sports activities.
To request materials in accessible format, sign language interpreters, and/or any accommodation to participate in any Miami-Dade Parks sponsored program or meeting, contact Mary Palacios, 305-755-7848 or Mary.Palacios@miamidade.gov at least 7 days in advance to initiate your request. TTY users may also call 711 (Florida Relay Service).
The Leisure Access Foundation
The Leisure Access Foundation was created in 1991 to improve opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in quality leisure programs, both recreational and competitive. People with disabilities are a minority, who have historically been severely disadvantaged and overlooked in the area of recreation and leisure.
Many recreation activities require special instruction, wheelchairs or other equipment that can increase the cost of these programs to participants. The foundation was created to raise the funds to provide this extra funding.
The Leisure Access Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit agency.
You can help by contributing:
- volunteer time at one of the events or programs
- in-kind donations of sports/recreation equipment, t-shirts, food for events, etc.
- monetary donations
To contact the Leisure Access Foundation please call 305-755-7848.
Beach Wheelchair and Pool Lifts
Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department welcomes people with disabilities to its beautiful sandy beach areas. To assist those who are mobility impaired, special beach wheelchairs, have been placed at beach areas. Following are some recommendations for making your use of the beach chair more enjoyable:
- Call ahead. Let our staff know when you'll be coming out. This will decrease waiting time. The chairs are available on a first come, first serve basis only. So although you've called, whoever gets there first gets the chair.
- Bring a friend. The beach chairs cannot be self-propelled and Park staff are not able to provide assistance with transferring into, or pushing you around in the chair. So bring someone to assist you.
- Keep track of time. Staff must store the chairs before they leave each day. Check with staff to know when you must return the chair. Haulover and Crandon: Apr.-Oct., 9 a.m. -6 p.m.; Nov.-Mar., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Leave a deposit. There is no charge to use the beach chair, but you may be asked to leave something of value, (your wheelchair, driver's license, photo I.D., or keys, etc.) to ensure that the chair will be returned.
- Watch where you're going! The beachchair can go into water no more than 6"" deep because the wheels are very buoyant, so stay near the shoreline.
- The beach chair is in the greatest demand on Sunday afternoons. While there are four chairs at each of these locations, you may want to avoid this very busy time.
- Keep us posted. Let us know how we can improve our access to people with disabilities. If you have an important comment regarding the beachchair, please call our Americans With Disabilities Act Coordinator at 305-755-7848.
Miami-Dade Parks welcomes children and adults with disabilities in its swimming programs. If you need accommodation to participate, call 305-694-4889, ext. 250, or visit Learn-to-Swim.
Children ages 9-20 with physical disabilities have a great time during lap swimming for fun and exercise, located in A.D. Barnes Park. For more information call 305-694-4889, ext. 250.
Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., $40 for 10 classes.
Adults 18 and older with physical disabilities have a great time during lap swimming for fun and exercise, located in A.D. Barnes Park. For more information call 305-694-4889, ext. 250.
- $40 for 8 classes or $150 for private classes.
Services for Adults
The Leisure Access Center offers adults (21+) with intellectual/developmental disabilities a meaningful day of activities through the Life Skills Development 3 (ADT) Program, funded by Medicaid Waiver. Adult have the opportunity to develop independence and self-advocacy skills through the participation in recreational, fitness, educational and community integration activities Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Cost $120/week
Sports and Fitness Programs
We have year round sports training programs for adults 21 years and older with intellectual disabilities. Athletes will gain sportsmanship, independence and teamwork skills while improving fitness level. Athletes will have the opportunity to compete in team/individual Special Olympic disciplines and will rotate throughout the following sports:
- Track & Field
Monday – Friday 3:30 pm – 5 pm, cost $80/month, plus $15 registration fee.
Adults 21 years and older with intellectual/developmental disabilities will enjoy participating in a social program that includes community outings to variety of local attractions and community events
Fridays from 6 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., cost $25/week plus $15 annual registration fee
Saturday in the Park (SIP)
Adults 21 years and older with intellectual/developmental disabilities will participate in a full day social program that includes recreational activities and community outings.
Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Cost $30/ week plus $15 annual registration fee
- Services for Adults With Physical & Visual Disabilities:
- Wheelchair Basketball Team
Time: TBA Contact: Bonet 305-752-0496
Description: This is a competitive team environment for adults with physical disabilities. The season starts in August and ends in February.
- Hoops Basketball program for adults 18 years and older with intellectual disabilities
Location: Camp Matecumbe
Time: Tuesdays & Thursdays 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Season: October to May
Cost: $40 for 8 sessions
Contact info: Diana Bonet
- Adaptive Aquatics
Contact: Belinda Phillips, 305-694-4889
Description:This program is designed for ages 14 years and older with physical or visual disabilities focusing on learning to swim for health and fitness.
- Wheelchair Basketball Team
Services for Children
Miami-Dade Parks' partnership with The Children's Trust helps provide year round after school and seasonal camp programs for children of all disabilities from for grades K-12.
Sports Development Programs for Children with Disabilities:
- Sports Programs for Children with Autism
- Central Location: Tamiami Park, 11201 SW 24 St., Miami, FL 33165. Contact: Arlene Bouza-Jou, 305-222-2128
- North Location: 18995 West Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33180
- Thera Johnson, 305-935-4588
- Description: This program is designed for children with autism 6 years of age and older. This event focuses on rotating Sports Programs for children with Autism. Sports include tennis, basketball, soccer, fencing, and others. $40 for eight group sessions plus $15 of annual registration fee.
Service Animal Policy
Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department Service Animal Policy meets all of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes allowing persons with disabilities to use service animals in parks, inside park facilities, and during programs. With the exception of designated dog park areas, and designated dog friendly parks, pets are not allowed in Miami-Dade County Parks. Service animals are not pets. Policies banning dogs and pets from parks do not apply to service animals.
A "service animal" is a well behaved dog trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding a person who is visually impaired or blind, alerting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, assisting with mobility or balance, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, retrieving objects, or performing other special tasks. Therapy, comfort or emotional support animals are not service animals, and are not allowed in parks. No documentation is required to prove that a dog is a service animal.
In accordance with local ordinance, service animals must be harnessed, leashed or tethered and must be under control. The only time a service animal may be off leash, harness or tether, is when being on it would inhibit the dogs ability to perform tasks for an individual with a disability. In that case the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. To confirm that a dog is a service animal, employees may ask whether the dog is a service animal or not, and they may ask what tasks the dog performs for the individual, but they may not ask the individual questions about disability. These questions are solely to confirm that the animal is a service animal.
In accordance with state requirements, individuals training service animals have all of the privileges that persons with disabilities using service animals have. Persons with disabilities using service animals are allowed in any area that the public uses. This includes restaurants, nature centers, theatres, auditoriums, museums, beaches, pool facilities, spectator areas, campgrounds, fields, courts, etc. Although service animals are allowed on the pool deck and in the pool dressing rooms, service animals are not allowed in the actual pool.
A fee may not be charged for a service animal to attend an event or activity. The individual using the service animal is responsible for any damage service animal causes, and can be charged for these damages, if damage would typically be charged to the user. Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to an individual using a service animal.
Employees may exclude or remove a service animal, if the animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or if the animals presence fundamentally alters the nature of the program taking place. Employees may ask someone with a service animal to leave an area if the animal is disruptive, (barking during a performance), causes damage, (digging holes), or bothers others (excessive barking, aggressively approaches other visitors). If a service animal is excluded or removed for any of the reasons above, the employees must provide the individual with a disability the option of continuing access to the park, facility or program without having the service animal on the premises.
Due to the need to address specific issues not common to general park areas, Zoo Miami has its own service animal policy. In limited circumstances, miniature horses may function as service animals. Miniature horses are less than 34'' tall, and must be house trained. The same requirements above pertain to miniature horse service animals.
Inclusion in other programs
"Inclusion" refers to the inclusion of children or adults with disabilities in general programs, rather than in programs specifically created for children or adults with disabilities.
Would you like your child who has a disability to be included in a general program, rather than a program specifically for children with disabilities?
Miami-Dade Parks has designated Park Supervisors in each area of the county to assist parents in accommodating children with disabilities into typical recreation programs; seasonal camps and after-school activities. Each of these Supervisors has been trained in techniques to effectively include children with disabilities into general programs. They are also trained to utilize policies and procedures put in place specifically to guide staff in the inclusion process.
For inclusion information and questions contact the Disability Services at 305-755-7848.