Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Nice name

Philadelphia International Airport has published "Getting Around: A Guide for Travelers With Disabilities." It is available on a CD or by download at the airport's website. The guide outlines how the traveler with disabilities can best navigate the airport.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The royal treatment

Well-known travel author Rick Steves says in this article (scroll down to section on France) that Versailles in Paris is undergoing a renovation that will include improving accessibility to the grounds.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Kangoo awarded

We blogged earlier on Gowrings Mobility's giveaway of a wheelchair adapted Renault Kangoo. The car was won by Valerie Goode from Kettering, UK who will use it when visiting her son Paul Smith. Will it go to good use? "Paul lives in a residential care home so when we visit him each week, we either have to just go for a walk, or we need to plan ahead and book the home's minibus," Goode said. " I always used to feel bad, as it would deprive someone else at the home. Paul loves going out -- he's a very sociable person. Having our own car means we can take him out so much more, and we can also be more impulsive. Thanks to the car, his life will become more interesting. It's the best birthday gift ever!" Gowrings Mobility is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A start is better than a stop

This article from the Chicago Tribune laments the lack of legal recourse passengers have versus cruise lines. But it holds up the recent ruling on the application of the ADA to foreign cruise lines operating from US ports as a good sign. I quote:

"There's hope, though, that cruise lines will not escape important responsibilities. A recent Supreme Court decision further empowered disabled passengers regarding cruise lines. The ruling says that foreign-flagged cruise ships that sail from U.S. ports must adhere to the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and be accessible to travelers with disabilities.
For some passengers, at least, it's a start."

Read all about it

From the Columbus Dispatch website: "Hearing-impaired airline passengers will soon be able to read public-address announcements on 80 large video screens at San Francisco International Airport as part of a settlement, officials said." The airport was sued by Oakland-based Disability Rights Advocates in 2002. "We’re hoping SFO is going to be a model for other airports to follow," said Kevin Knestrick, a lawyer for Disability Rights Advocates.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

EC backs accessible tourism

"Numerous studies have shown that disabled people are excluded from traveling and enjoying a holiday - at home or abroad - by a lack of suitable facilities. Economic barriers are not the biggest factor keeping people at home, and the market potential is enormous, when you consider that there are 50 million disabled people and their families in Europe. Added to this, destinations with good physical access and services are a boon to hundreds of millions of oldertravelerss who may have health and mobility problems associated withagingg. As populations both in Europe and globally are ageing rapidly, it is only common sense to make tourism accessible for all." -- Ivor Ambrose, Coordinator of the partnership behind European Network for Accessible Tourism.

That's the issue in a nutshell isn't it. The European Commission is fostering the European Network for Accessible Tourism, which is seen as a private public partnership. Look for ambitious things from them as they set out the goal of increasing accessible tourism in the EU.

Information, please

OKDAK, maker of kiosks that allow viewers to find tourist or municipal information using their mobile phones as remote controls to navigate menus on the screen and then receive the requested info on their phones via text messaging, have kept disabled travelers in mind. The kiosks deliver information supplied by tourist bureaus, business travel agencies, municipal services, chambers of commerce, private enterprises, amusement parks and real estate agencies. The company has had the good foresight to make the kiosks height adjustable and with an audio on option, making them accessible to people with disabilities. OKDAK operates kiosks in France, Belgium, Greece and the United States. The company expects to have 100 installations by the end of the year.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tattoo who?

Temporary tattoos that could be used to identify people who cannot communicate well for themselves with contact information if they are seperated from their party, say while on a trip. Is this a good idea? Does it lack dignity?

UD opportunity

Apparently some of the largest hotel companies are rethinking the design of their facilities as a way to differentiate themselves in a competitive market. Hear's to hoping the idea of universal design catches on in some of this plotting the future.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Accessible Greece

About News and Issues has a great rundown of accessible travel in Greece. Sounds like travelers with disabilities here have benefited much from the last Olympics.

A self-fulfilling prophecy

You sometimes hear access naysayers make comments like "I never see anyone using (fill in the blank for an accessible feature here)." When you're talking about transportation systems, my standard rely is "I'm not surprised" when that access is well short of universal, as it so often is. Take a train line into a major city. If a person in a wheelchair can only get on or off a train at say three stations out of 16 don't expect use of that line to be good by people with disabilities. People with disabilities have places to go just like everyone else. Chances are those destinations don't line up with those three stations most of the time. So instead of a number of disabled people using the line that might go to any of the destinations on the line you at best get the number of disabled people using the line that are interested in three destinations. The inability for the disabled to fully use the system becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for low ridership. A survey by Access for All Alliance, an Australian disability advocacy group, seeking to define the problems faced by the traveler with disabilities reinforces this point. The alliance's Sheila King points out a finding from the survey so far is that "a large percentage (of the disabled) haven't taken holidays because of inaccessible transport." Not because they aren't able. Not because they don't want to. Not because they do not have the means. But because transportation is inaccessible. As long as it remains so, or only partially so, it will appear that such improvements aren't needed "because you never see disabled people travel." But findings like the one cited above show the latent demand.

Long (time) train coming

The National Council of the Disabled (NRZP), the Czech Railways (CD), the Transport Ministry and the state-run Railway Infrastructure Administration have announced an effort to improve accessibility to rail travel in the Czech Republic. "From our point of view the ideal situation would be for any disabled person to simply arrive at the train station, buy a ticket, get on a train and travel to his or her chosen destination. It of course does not work that way today," said NRZP head Vaclav Krasa. The downside is definitely the timeline. Due to a lack of financial support, the changes are expected to be made gradually with a "significant transformation" taking place by 2015.

Coarse at Coventry

Vera Emery, 68, is upset with how she was treated at the Coventry Airport in the UK when she flew on Thompsonfly recently. Emery told the Coventry Observer: "Check-in staff told me that I shouldn't travel on my own because I was disabled, and that they didn't wheel people in wheelchairs. They were really very rude. They are discriminating against me for being independent and going away on my own." A Thompsonfly spokesman said the incident is being investigated.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The search for an open frame bed

Have trouble finding lodging with open bed frames while traveling? You'll relate to the tale of Joe Brown of Absecon, N.J. The upside of this tale is that a few more motel managers now know why open frames are important to people who use lifts.

Better beach access

North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was lauded in a recent editorial in the Sun News for installing improved beach access for the disabled. The planned ramps will allow wheelchair users to get beyond the dune line in their own chairs. As someone who likes to hit the beach, I'm hoping more beach municipalities and hotels will follow this lead and work toward making all beach accesses wheelchair accessible. Truly all it would take in many cases is some additional wood -- and of course the realization that it's truly important and useful.

By the way, nearby Myrtle Beach was recently sued over the state of its public accesses.

Friday, January 06, 2006

More from Microtel

Microtel has announced some new services aimed at the disabled traveler: "Access Microtel'"pamphlets, "Accessible Fitness" bags and Upper Body Ergometers.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Feeling others' age

Boeing is making some initial steps to designing aircraft for people with limited mobility, this voanews.com report says. Two interesting quotes:

  • Dr. Joseph Coughlin of the M.I.T. AgeLab -- "Folks over 50 that have the greatest desire and the most wealth actually want to travel for travel's sake. So, this is not just a matter of social policy, this is a matter of just good business."
  • Boeing senior design engineer Vicki Curtis -- "You cannot make a product look geriatric because nobody wants to say, 'I am getting old.'"
Personally I hope Boeing is going as far as to incorporate the flexibility into new designs to accommodate wheelchairs more easily as well. Think the flip around seating in minivans and SUVs these days.

Cruise to Santa Cruz

From insidebayarea.com:
"To assist disabled visitors and local residents, the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council is making available a 64-page guide produced by Shared Adventures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the outdoors into the lives of people with special needs and physical challenges. The guide lists more than 100 restaurants, hotels, parks and other facilities that are accessible. The free guide is available at county visitor centers, colleges, pharmacies and medical offices. Call (831) 425-1234 or (831) 459-7210. "

Dubai bound?

The market potential of travelers with disabilities is not lost on officials in Dubai UAE. A partnership between Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and public and private sector organizations is setting its sights on capturing more business from travelers with disabilities. Already in place, a guide and a section of the DTCM website dedicated to the subject.

(Photo courtesy of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing)