The opportunity to recreate is an important need for every person. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) reports that being active reduces stress and depression and increases overall fitness, life expectancy and health. [See Benefits of a Zoo Visit.]
The options that people have for recreation are vast. Activities can vary from sedate to extreme and everything else in between. By far, the activity of choice for millions of people is visiting zoos, aquariums and museums. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) reports that more than 135 million people visited their zoo and aquarium affiliated members in 2000. This is more than the attendance of professional baseball, basketball and football combined.
The American Association of Museums(AAM) reports that more than 865 million visits were made in 1999, or 2.3 million visits per day. These figures represent a huge number of people who choose a zoo, aquarium, or museum for their leisure time. For most people, the choice of activity depends on personal issues such as time, money, and skill. For others, their disability will affect their recreational choices. These individuals need specific information. They need answers to questions such as: "If I use a wheelchair, can I get into the museum building for the art display?" "At the play, will I be able to hear the dialogue because of my hearing?" "Because my vision is so low, will I be able to see any animals clearly at the zoo?" Research on AZA members indicates a varying degree of effort to increase the access of their facilities. [See Benefits of a Zoo Visit for details.]However, the survey clearly indicated the need for better accessibility.