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Looking for summertime fun for your child this summer? Children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disorders may be eligible for free admission to more than 2,000 recreational sites managed by Federal agencies via an Access Pass.
What is an Access Pass?
An Access Pass, also known as the, Interagency Access Pass, is a pass issued at no cost to United States residents who live with a permanent disability. Issued by the U.S. federal government, the pass allows free access to parks maintained by the Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation (the five federal agencies).
The pass is good for a lifetime and entitles its holder and three additional people in the vehicle (as long as they are in the vehicle with the pass-holder) to free admission. Only non-commercial vehicles are allowed. If you ride a motorcycle, only person per motorcycle (must be a pass-holder) is allowed. Some parks allow passholders to additional discounts on fees for boat launching, camping, guided tours, swimming, and more.
How Do I Know if My Child Qualifies?
Any child or adult with a permanent disability qualifies for an access. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a permanent disability is defined as any mental, physical, or sensory impairment that greatly hinders life activities. Note that disabilities aren’t rated, but rather, the person with the disability must have an impairment of one of the following areas that impairs life activities:
- Daily care
- Performing manual tasks
Proof of Disability
A statement from your child’s physician is generally enough to prove disability (or your own physician if you have cerebral palsy). Other types of proof include documentation from a Federal agencies (example: Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income) or documentation from a State agency (vocational rehabilitation).
How to Apply for an Access Pass
For a list of locations where you can apply for an Access Pass, click here. You can download and print the application form on the official USGS website and fill it out prior to going to a location nearest you. Along with proof of disability, you’ll need to bring in proof of U.S. residency, such as a driver’s license or a birth certificate. There is a $10.00 processing fee for each access pass and once the USGS approves the application, the pass ships out to the address listed on the application within three to five business days.
Once you receive your pass, you can either hang on a vehicle’s rearview mirror, or you can place it on your dashboard, but be certain that the signature side is showing. Likewise, if the park you’re attending has an entrance station, you can simply show the entrance guard your pass. Decals are also available at USGS locations for open-topped vehicles and motorcycles, but you’ll need to show your driver’s licence, vehicle registration, and your Access Pass before you can obtain one.
Keep in mind that if your access pass is lost or stolen, you’ll need to apply for a new one and go through the same process. An Access Pass is only valid for federal recreation sites. It doesn’t apply to state or county recreation parks.