Thursday, September 28, 2006

Enjoy it while you can

The good parking. That's what some people think you get out of having a disabled parking license plate or placard. Those spaces right up front in the lot.

Apparently that wasn't the case at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport until recently if you had a tall van or other vehicle. Then you had to park in the overheight lot next to the garage. But there's somewhat of a reprieve now, with construction going on in the overheight lot. Drivers of vehicles up to 7 feet in height are allowed to park inside the garage and parking in the overheight lot is limited. But alas this Seattle Times article points out that this may be only temporary. " ... There's a chance federal security directives could require the Port to reduce the garage's height allowance again."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Katja in Germany

Katja at has been to Germany and back. She tells of her trip -- and its accessibility highlights and lowlights -- at her site.

One of her frustrations was with train personnel. She writes: "Shortly before our arrival in Stuttgart, I grabbed a crewmember and said I would need assistance exiting the train. His brow furrowed, he inquired as to whether I had arranged it in advance, and I assured him I had."

Like once the woman is on the train, what difference does it make about the notice? She does have to get off somehow. The whole idea of notice is pointless too often anyway. Even where notice is not required, presumably because everyone is ready for any eventuality, you can get the above reaction. It just doesn't seem like it should have to be so hard.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Accessibility in UK facts found

This Belfast Telegraph Digital article on the 30th anniversary of the publishing of a landmark study on the accessibility of British tourism taught me several things:

1.) "...there are around 10 million people registered as disabled in the UK, of which Visit Britain estimates roughly 2.5 million are regular travelers."

2.) "... much progress (in accessibility) has been made by the UK's larger hotel chains, Best Western being a notable example. While improvements are due in part to government legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, many chains have not only improved access but use mystery shoppers to test its effectiveness."

3.) " Of the UK's 10 million registered disabled ...' only around 5 per cent actually use a wheelchair. The remainder comprise a range of disabilities, and improving access information for these groups represents a real challenge for the future.'"

4.) Denmark is a leader in accessible tourism. "West Jutland, for example, has undertaken major works on wooden footpaths to make sure all its beaches now have disabled access."

Tourism for All is behind this. Nice work.

Servicing service animals

Perhaps the lodging world will become more friendly to service animals as a result of the California Hotel & Lodging Association Education Foundation 's distribution of a DVD on how to accommodate service animals. "We Welcome Service Animals is a national education and outreach campaign created by the California Hotel & Lodging Association Education Foundation to teach people in the hospitality industry and in the law enforcement community how to improve service to guests and patrons with disabilities who depend on service animals for assistance," this press release says. The group's website has a page on the program that has some useful information even if you don't buy the DVD.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ryanair not wheelchair friendly?

I like to stick to news -- you know, new revealing information -- on this blog. Some might argue that a post that could be summarized as "Ryanair hassles someone over a wheelchair" isn't news, it's old hat. But I include this link anyway.

Big victory, maybe little gain

Remember the landmark US Supreme Court decision that ruled foreign cruise lines operating in the US had to follow US accessibility standards? According to this article, the US Access Board hasn't issued any guidelines to said cruise lines. So it's likely little progress has been made. In other words, you'd better still check out just what accessible means on a cruise ship. Some very good food for thought in this article as well about what details you might want to nail down before taking a cruise with a wheelchair.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fly Now! in S.C.

Fly Now!, a traveling exhibit of airline posters, will be on display at the Anderson County Museum in Anderson, South Carolina through Oct. 5. The posters are from the Smithsonian. The museum is accessible, or so says the article.

Take the discount

From The Hindu: "Paramount Airways is planning to launch its third Madurai-Chennai service with a link to Hyderabad on Friday... The airways would offer 50 per cent discount on full fare to senior citizens and disabled passengers, ... adding that travel for disabled children below 12 years would be free."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

For the determined

Think that the Great Wall of China is not a destination for a traveler with a disability? Inclusive travel blogger Scott Rains has some video for you.

Almost accessible

This Q and A reveals the two biggies in San Antonio tourism -- the Alamo and the Riverwalk -- are nearly, but not completely, accessible.

Ramping to the beach in Oregon

At least a couple of Oregon's beach wonders also have ramped access. Sigh. Why does that have to be a secret you have to read about and not a given you can expect?

And here's the upside ...

Australian Ken Haley, author of Emails from the Edge: A Journey Through Troubled Times, offers these two upsides to traveling in a wheelchair:

"Apart from being an obvious talking point and means of introduction, one of the few benefits of being in a wheelchair is that you get special service at airports. You're never left in a queue."

"And you never get burnt feet."

Getting Around Seattle -- with talking signs

Seattle will be the site for a model Remote Infrared Audible Signage accessibility project. With RIAS, explains this Yahoo News article: "Talking Signs® is an orientation and wayfinding accessibility system that allows blind travelers to locate and identify landmarks, signs, and places of interest. It utilizes speech messages stored in labeling transmitters which broadcast directional, repeating human voice messages that are silent and invisible to the general public. However, travelers unable to see or read print signs scan the environment with hand held receivers and hear the messages to locate restrooms and other sites in buildings; identify approaching buses, locate bus shelters, and hear 'walk' and 'wait' announcements at crosswalks." What a great tool.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Spirit willing, knowledge lacking

I can relate to a sentiment expressed here by John Horan about his recent expereicnes with rail travel in Germany. No I haven't ever attempted to cart a tricycle on a train form England to Germany for a cyciling tour. -But I have encountered the gap between the accessibility of a systems facilities and the preparedness of its staff to be helpful. He foundthe rail cars to be wonderfully appointed for a traveler with a disability. But the staff, though willing to help, acted like they had never encountered the situation before. That reminds me of my experience using New Jersy Transit last year with my son who uses a wheelchair when we were visitng New York City. The stations etc. had the accomodations. But the staff, while nice and all, was not together on helpful procedures. The engineers didn't know how to get lined up with the ramps on the platfroms. The plates that bridged the gap between the platforms and the train cars were locked up. A conducter didn't know which stops had wheelchair access to get off and which did not (luckily I did!). Horan's solution sounds quite similar to mine offered at the time: "The German railway staff want to help, but they didn't know how. What they need, then, is for more disabled people to take a risk and use the German railways so that an unfamiliar situation becomes a common one."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Paraboating premiere

Ziggy highlights a vessel that might bring kayak like recreation to more people. The Alligator paraboat.

Not discount buses too!

A New York Times article, as a sidelight in a story about discount long haul bus companies, has this to say about the upstarts:

"Federal investigators are believed to be focusing on 8 to 12 of the companies and their compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires bus lines to provide access to people in wheelchairs."

Sounds like some of the discount bus companies are following in the footsteps of some discount airlines overseas in their willingness to accommodate travelers -- their customers -- with disabilities.

Getting better in Beijing?

Dr Du Jiang, director-general of the Beijing Tourism Administration, says in this interview that improving facilities for visitors with disabilities is a priority. Alas, he doesn't have much else to share on the topic.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Malaysia make-up

Anthony Thanasayan says there is a lot of work to be done just to lvie up to the promises of government officials to make Malaysian public transportation -- even new projects -- more accessible to those with disabilities.
Reasons Thanasayan: "Think about it, folks. How are disabled Malaysians – estimated to be more than 10% of the population – ever going to hold down jobs if they don’t have access to facilities to travel from one place to the other?"

Getting around Nachlaot

If you're planning a trip to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot, Jenny Ki Tov can help you get around.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Accessibility defined

Katja at sums up perfectly what accessibility should be like:

"I want accessibility to just be there, like air."

Let's keep working to get there.

Myrtle Beach comitted to better beach access

Since starting this blog, I have long noticed Myrtle Beach's commitment to creating accessible beach entrance points. The commitment continues. This article says "Myrtle Beach has budgeted $250,000 this year to get anywhere from 15 to 22 new"accessible ramps. Other communities in the greater Myrtle Beach area show similar commitment. I have often wondered why there isn't more of a push to have beaches be more accessible to those with disabilities, especially as these facilities are reconstructed due to age or storm damage. I applaud Myrtle Beach for making this a priority.

And by the way, the lead of this article says this:
"Out of about 400 public beach access sites along the coastal Carolinas, at least 70 are handicapped-accessible, according to officials from seven communities surveyed by The Sun News."
Coastal Carolina is frankly my favorite beach locale in the country. And I guess it's a matter of perception, but that lead seems to be written as if 70 of 400 was a good record. I don't think so. What about you?

More elevators, no shuttle

A £19 million ($35 million US) expansion of the Edinburgh, Scotland airport includes elevators for people with disabilities. And no more shutle buses to planes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

More on Qantas

Another traveler that uses a wheelchair runs afoul of Qantas' restrictions. This time it's the chairman of the Far North Queensland Regional Disability Council.