Monday, April 30, 2007

What does "particularly wheelchair-accessible" mean?

The Hapuna Beach Prince is pegged by this Chicago Tribune article as being "particularly wheelchair-accessible," but without any explanation of what that means. But it does sound like a lovely place. (Photo by Jim Munnelly via

Being deaf rules out roomy row

Bob McCullough reveals here that being deaf doesn't so much cramp his style as it does his long legs on lengthy flights. (Plane engine photo via

Friday, April 27, 2007

Irish tourist reviews NYC accessibility

Peter Nolan, a wheelchair user from Ireland, visited New York City around St. Patrick's Day. He described his experiences here, a read worth the insights you'll gain. In summary, he had high praise for the city's public transportation, but not for the accessibility of tavern bathrooms. Said Nolan: .“Us Irish like to party and just because I’m in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I don’t like a few social ones." (Times Square NYC photo by Darren Hillock)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada order Dreamliners

Virgin Atlantic and Air Canada are among the latest airlines to order Boeing Dreamliners, which hold the promise of offering a whole new level of accessibility. Virgin Atlantic is ordering 15 Boeing Dreamliners. Their motivation doesn't appear to chiefly be accessibility. Virgin Atlantic founder and chairman Sir Richard Branson commented: "The 787 Dreamliner symbolises the environmentally-kinder aircraft of the future – cleaner, quieter, lighter and truly the best experience in the air." Air Canada has ordered 37 of the planes, "more Dreamliners than any other carrier in the Western Hemisphere," according to this press release. (Photo courtesy of The Boeing Company)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Air France extends Saphir service for the disabled to 17 countries

Air France has announced extension of its Saphir service, aimed at people with disabilities, to 17 additional countries, including the US, UK and Canada. Here's a summary from their press office of what carrying a Saphir card entitles you to:
- Assistance at check-in.
- Provision of a wheelchair at the airport.
- Free transport of a guide dog.
- Carriage of passenger's wheelchair free of charge in hold.
- Priority boarding when possible.
- "Personalized in-flight service."
- Assistance during the flight.
- Personal welcome upon arrival.
Holding a Saphir card also eliminates the need for passengers to have to "provide information on his or her handicap each time they book a ticket. They simply quote their Saphir card number, which they receive free of charge no matter how frequently they travel," a corporate press release says. You also do not need to have a Saphir card to receive these services.
Hey, a personal welcome upon arrival. Sweet.
But seriously folks, having your requirements pre-registered and on file seems like a good service. But doesn't much of Saphir service sound pretty standard? (Photos courtesy of Air France)

Monday, April 23, 2007

You can take all the kids

I enjoy seeing the topic of traveling with children with disabilities treated as a worthy topic for a newspaper travel advice column. Way to go Eileen Ogintz!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Company says ship your luggage, don't lug it

Here's a new travel business idea, aimed in part at travelers with disabilities. The folks at The Luggage Club Inc. will take your luggage, including any medical or mobility equipment you might need, and ship it to your destination. You are saved the trouble of traveling with a bunch of luggage and the many hassles that can bring.
I'm just curious -- do you think this would work for you?
(Photo by Xenia Antunes via

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rains finds insights into Taj Mahal poor accessibility

Rolling Rains links to an interesting first-hand account of the inaccessibility of one of the world's most recognizable buildings, India's Taj Mahal. The article, from Disability News India, is by C. Mahesh and is well worth a read (you have to check out the photo of so-called ramp 3). My favorite aspect of Mahesh's article comes right at the end. Despite laying out how futile an up-close visit to this famous building would be for most people with severe mobility problems, Mahesh refuses to surrender to the idea that the Taj Mahal just isn't worth the effort. "And finally whatever might be the shortcomings -- never miss an opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal," Mahesh writes. In other words, work to overcome the obstacles, but don't give them permanence by accepting the situation as hopeless. If everyone stays home, nothing will ever improve because there will be the impression that no one uses accessibility accommodations. (Photo by Marc Shandro via Flicker with this license.)

Bournemouth, Poole Correction

Bournemouth and Poole are making a great effort to attract the traveler with disabilities. They have not forgotten those travelers, for the record. You might have been confused about this if you saw my early feed from this post. But it's corrected now and read all about it here.
Sorry about the slip of the keyboard that caused the omission. (Photo of Bournemouth beach scene courtesy of

Accessibility guides part of joint promo picture for Bournemouth, Poole

Bournemouth and Poole in the UK are working together on tourism efforts. And they haven't forgotten the traveler with disabilities. Says Bournemouth borough council's marketing and events manager Jon Weaver in this Daily Echo piece: "People see 11 miles of beach and we are keen to work closer together, enlisting the help of taxi drivers and coach operators, who see no boundary, to actively promote the entire area. There will also be a joint access guide for disabled visitors and events held simultaneously in the two resorts, along with more multi-cultural activities aimed at foreign language students. We want to work together and develop the whole conurbation as a superior destination in the UK." (Photo of Bournemouth beach scene courtesy of

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Making fitness -- even on the road -- universally accessible

This article got me to thinking. Many hotels and resorts hype their fitness facilities. But how many have areas that are accessible -- a lot of fitness rooms are crowded into a small space -- or have the right equipment for someone, say, who is a wheelchair user? Looks like Dr. James Rimmer, director of the National Center on Physical Activity & Disability, and a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, may one day help the situation. "In January, Rimmer and a group of doctors and advocates launched the Inclusive Fitness Coalition to urge private health clubs and gyms to make universal accessibility part of their basic service." (Photo by Dawn Turner via

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mission Inn, Pismo Beach has five accessible rooms

The newly opened Mission Inn of Pismo Beach has many great sounding attributes, including five accessible rooms.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Salt Fork has hard-topped trails

Salt Fork State Park is Ohio's largest, according to this article. It also has wheelchair-accessible hard-topped trails among its total of 14 miles of hiking paths.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Disabled travelers stay longer, spend more, expert asserts

Malcom Noden, a retired Cornell professor and an expert in the hotel industry, wrote a fantastic column in the News Leader of Fernandina Beach, Florida. I highly encourage you to read the whole thing. But here's a few key quotes, and some commentary on each:
"The opportunities associated with these travelers are directly related to the fact that they are often accompanied by family members and caregivers, and have significantly different travel habits and patterns, the most important economic element of which is that their length of stay habits are very different from the rest of the traveling public. Unlike many other segments of the population, this group has a pronounced tendency to plan for and stay longer at their chosen destination."
This last point was a trend I wasn't aware of. Travelers with disabilities tend to stay longer. Then again, that makes sense. If you find a place that works for you, you stay longer maybe just because you have less choice in the first place.

Think that catering to travelers with disabilities isn't more lucrative than the average traveler? Think again, says Noden: "First, because this group makes their travel plans further in advance, and carefully chooses hotel accommodations based upon both location and accessibility, they are more frequently to be found in higher priced facilities. This means that their typical daily expenditure for accommodations, entertainment, meals and recreation is higher than the average of other travelers."
This addresses the too prevalent idea that everyone with a disability is destitute. For some, disability does bring economic struggle. But can you, if you have a tourism related business, afford to keep out those that do have money to spend? (A lot of coin photo by Jane M. Sawyer via

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Accessibility's universal benefit explained

Are you one of those people (not likely BTW if you're a regular reader here!) who want to know why people with disabilities should get all of these accommodations? What's in it for the rest of the people if public spaces are made more accessible? Well, Wayne Trevor, London Underground’s accessibility and inclusion manager, has your answer. Here's what he had to say about the London subway's new accessible route planner: “The new service will be a real benefit for all our customers showing them the best routes through stations for their individual needs, not just wheelchair users, but the elderly, travellers with heavy luggage and parents with buggies, as well as those passengers with visual and hearing impairments. This groundbreaking new service allows all customers to plan in advance ensuring an easier and more relaxed journey, promoting confidence and independent travel on the Tube.”
Better accessibility for people with disabilities means a universal better experience. It just takes some forethought. (Photo of a London Underground tube by Elisa Barbata via

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Only in a Dreamliner

This article lauds the accessible features of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that is set to go into service next year. The article details a wheelchair accessible lavatory. Does that mean this plane might actually be able to accommodate passengers own wheelchairs even for moving through the cabin? I've got to try to find out more about this. (Photo of interior of a 787, which includes larger bathrooms and wider aisles. Courtesy of Boeing)

When is a million people not enough?

There's an interesting stat buried in this feel good press release from American Airlines:
"Every year more than a million American Airlines and American Eagle customers are travelers with disabilities."
In a year, they carry a total of about 80 million passengers (in 2001 anyway). So disabled passengers are about 1.25 percent of their passengers.
One million travelers with disabilities for just one airline And still planes are as in accessible as they are. (Photo by Richard van Binsbergen via

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A case of rules is rules?

A Manchester, UK man, who had both legs amputated and was using a wheelchair, was asked by a bus driver to in effect prove his disability by producing a pass for free travel. He had the pass, but feels he was humiliated by the process. One interesting twist -- the man was a former bus driver himself. He told the BBC he never asked obviously disabled people to produce a pass. One could argue that the driver is supposed to see a pass or collect a fare; he was just doing his job in that sense, following the rules. On the other hand -- man in wheelchair, double amputee. Get the message Mr. Bus Driver? What do you think, should the driver have grasped the obvious and shut up, or should the passenger have just showed his pass like everyone else must do? Weigh in with a comment. (Bus photo -- not necessarily from Manchester -- by Kenn Kiser via

Monday, April 02, 2007

Celeb gets posh mobility treatment at airport

Did Posh Spice get special treatment at Heathrow Airport using a transport vehicle usually reserved for people with mobility problems? Read, decide and comment.