Birdability and the ABA
American Birding Association
June 8, 2023
“The Cerulean is directly in front of me! If you just move a couple feet to your right, you’ll be right on it!”
“We’ll meet at the parking area at 7:30. To get to where the curlews have been hanging out, it’s just a short walk through the hayfield there.”
“They’ve got the Burrowing Owls in the scope! Watch your step on the curb.”
Birders helping birders. Isn’t that the essence of the ABA experience? Yes, it is. But each of the preceding scenarios would present insurmountable obstacles—not just figuratively, but indeed literally—to the millions of U.S. and Canadian nature lovers who face access and mobility challenges in the outdoors.
One single step or curb is completely unnavigable to most wheelchair users. A stroll off the trail is unfeasible for many. In many instances, even the trail itself—steep or uneven or poorly maintained—is essentially impassable.
Birding magazine and the ABA are committed to advancing the urgently needed initiatives of the Birdability agenda. With guidance from Birdability Founder Virginia Rose and Birdability Coordinator Freya McGregor, we are proud to have run several feature-length articles highlighting access challenges for birders with limited mobility, low vision, and hearing loss.
Awareness leads to action, and Birding strives to promote knowledge about access and mobility challenges for bird lovers in the ABA Area and beyond. If you’ve had experiences with access in the outdoors, we would appreciate knowing about them. Stories with happy endings are encouraging—and helpful. But stories with frustration or even heartbreak are also important for us to hear about. Please consider sharing in the space below.
Learn more about Birdability at birdability.org.
Hello! First I applaud your organization, because I’m mildly physically handicapped and also have severe psychological and mild developmental disabilities and birding is very therapeutic. What can I do to raise awareness in my community? I live in a small city called Adrian, MI. There is no public transportation to nearby metro areas and about the only birding spot within city limits has a wonderful boardwalk I enjoy. great birding woodland riparian habitat. But, there is a curb that would prevent a wheelchair user from using it. I am extremely good at identifying birds myself and have a special attachment… Read more »
Someone told me they installed a ramp, I was last there a couple weeks ago and didn’t notice, I’ll have to go back and check it out. If they did, yay! But it is an issue that needs attention.
Hi Angela! We’ve found that reaching out to whoever manages the park (the city or county, maybe?) via email or phone and explaining the issue and what could be done about it (adding a curb cut would be the solution here, it sounds like) is really helpful. Especially if you say you want to lead accessible bird outings there, but the curb currently creates a barrier to access. We’ve found it helps if you do this in a positive way, saying things like, “It’s such a wonderful place! I know you want everybody to be able to access it and… Read more »