Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Does advanced notice really do any good?

Katj at brokenclay.org shares some revealing insights into a recent travel experience. First she reports that the ruling that people with disabilities won't be submitted to shoe searches at airports is not really getting down to those on the frontlines. Second, she discusses her experiences with prior notification of her needs and what that really gets done when the time comes to actually travel. You hear and see that all the time, "advanced notice required" when you're traveling and have a disability. It always strikes me as supremely unjust. Now I know that it's not even useful, much of the time. I can't believe that personnel can't be trained to handle a passenger with disabilities in the proper manner when they come upon one. Katja's statement that advanced notice makes little difference in how she is assisted just makes the advanced notice requirement even more preposterous. And lastly there's the unaccompanied traveler with disabilities. Katja relates how some personnel appear to be just floored that she travels unaccompanied. This is another frequent request of especially some overseas airlines, you must have someone with you -- I assume so the airline folks don't have to bother with some assistance here and there. It's a sad reality that many people can't even conceive of someone with a disability being independent enough to travel alone. Really sad. It also shows that establishing people with disabilities as full participants in society has a long way to go. (Photo by courtesy of morgueFile.com)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Quick hits 10/30/06: Hotel bathroom bulletins

Candy Harrington plugs a nice feature she found at the Cleveland Intercontinental Hotel.

Scott Rains posts on finding the difference between stylish and sterile at Hilton hotels.

Wilderness Inquiry caters to all abilities

The New York Times reports: "Wilderness Inquiry, a not-for-profit outdoors adventure organization that caters to participants of all ages and abilities — including disabled travelers — is offering a new 10-day tour to the south of Costa Rica. Excursions include Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. Fees start at $1,945, and include meals, lodging and ground transportation (www.wildernessinquiry.org)."
That's a pretty quick treatment of the subject of WI and adventurers with disabilites. But a commitment to people with disabilities seems to run deep in the history of this organization, from a quick look at their website. They organized their first canoe trip for people with disabilites almost 30 years ago. The phrase "of all abilities" is frequently found on their site.
Nice job, Wilderness Inquiry.(Photo of Wildnerness Inquiry group courtesy of Wilderness Inquiry)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thriving hostel in Oregon has an accessible room

The Northwest Portland International Hostel is doing well, says oregonlive.com. And among the hostel's accomodations is a fully accessible room on the ground floor (shown here) named "for Sandy Diedrich, a longtime Northwest Portland activist and former president of the Oregon Council of Hostelling International, who relies on a wheelchair." (Photo of exterior and accessible room courtesy of Northwest Portland International Hostel)

Toward better railway accessibility in India

Efforts to improve access to rail lines in India seem to be on the move.
Sounds like you might have a a hard time getting around on the Mumbai transit system if you visit there and use a wheelchair or have other factors that affect your mobility. But Neenu Kewlani is fighting for improvements.
And this from The Hindu: "To ensure a barrier-free environment for disabled persons travelling in trains, the Madras High Court has issued a set of guidelines for the Railways in general, and the Central and Egmore railway stations of Chennai in particular." (Photo of railroad station in Keral, India by Kumar via morgueFile.com)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Inclusive travel blogger shares recent flight experiences

Do you think traveling on planes as a wheelchair user has become routine? Better check out Scott Rains' post on his recent experiences. Here's a sample: "Other than having my wallet stolen by the United Airlines employee who carried my backpack into the cabin and the crew in Sydney that wanted to pass me across the gap between the jetway and the airplane – strapped to a narrow aisle chair – getting on and off a commercial flight has become about as routine and uneventful as loading any other piece of luggage."
Getting on and off a plane shouldn't have to include diplomacy, finessing of personalities and waiting waiting and more waiting. It should be intuitive, natural AND, dare I say, convenient for all passengers. But as long it remains trying at times, I trust Scott will have some of the best advice to offer.
(Photo of jetway and airliner by Clara Natoli at morgueFile)

Caribbean tourism strategy getting more inclusive

Ministers of tourism for Caribbean nations are meeting in Freeport, Bahamas on shared issues. From Travel Weekly: "On the hotel front, a certification program for disabled-friendly hotels will include ratings for properties 'to help the physically challenged identify properties catering to their specific needs,' the minister said."
That's a welcomed development, and evidence of the growing trend of including people with disabilities in tourism's mainstream.
(Photo of Coco Cay, Bahamas by Jay Malpass, morgueFile)

Travel guide next project for advocate/ consultant

Michael Chenail has experienced a lot in life. He is a father, a competitive pool player and an avid outdoorsman. He has skydived.
His experiences as a wheelchair user for nearly half his life were the impetus for his consulting business, Compliance Alliance, started in 2003. In that role he carries the all-important message that accessibility will pay off: "Businesses that make more accommodations will reap the benefits," he told TimesDispatch.com. "It opens the doors to more people."
Next project for Chenail? A travel guide.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Better accessibility in Singapore

Scott Rains posts on a greater awareness of the need for accessibility in Singapore to make it a "more gracious nation." (Image is a street scene in Singapore)

Cyprus hosts accessible tourism conference

Mansystems (Cyprus), JBR Hellas (Greece) and ΜΗΙ Turismo (Spain) get tourism for people with disabilities. That's why they recently organized a seminar on accessible tourism in Cyprus. They understand the demographics, the business opportunity and the underlying principle of universal design. But perhaps the best news to come out of the seminar? " Due to high interest, the seminar will be repeated in 2007." The images are of scenes from Cyprus that may have varying degress of accessibility.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Better train access east of London implemented

The East of England Tourist Board is encouraging additional tourism to its region. A multi-million investment in new rolling stock for a train line from London to Norwich that includes improved accessibility may help.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Should the obese be treated as disabled by airlines?

New York Times News Service filed this interesting piece about what he terms the war of the armrests -- the plight of very overweight airline passengers. For this blog the operative question raised by the piece is: Should obese people be accomodated as having a disability?

The technical answers appears to be no. The ADA doesn't apply, airlines point out, the Air Carrier Access Act is their law. And the act doesn't require, for example, providing two seats to a passenger who can't fit into one.

The other side argues obesity should be accomodated just like other disabilities. "'It's not a lifestyle choice or a social choice,' said Joseph Nadglowski Jr., president of the Obesity Action Coalition, a Florida-based lobbying group. Nadglowski added that airlines 'make accommodations for others with other health conditions,' so why not the same for the obese?"

That the law doesn't apply currently is a non issue for me. The real question is should it? Obesity seems to me to be a disability as defined by the ADA. (Personally I'd say a good starting point would be having the ADA apply to airlines.) The airlines choose the size of their seats to maximize profit, which of course is understandable. For the airlines to argue that they shouldn't have to provide a larger seat to a larger customer that can't fit in one seat doesn't seem that different than a shop owner arguing that they shouldn't have to build a ramp because stairs are cheaper and therefore better for their business. The law doesn't tolerate that second scenario any more.

But enough of my opinion. My question for you is should very overweight airline passengers be accomodated as having a disability? Comment!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Accessibility improved at European ski area

Skiing season is getting started at the Hochfugen Hochkaltenbach skiing area improvements include "Europe's top performance feeder lift" and a depot area at the bottom stage that has been "completely revamped and a new 2,000 sq. m ski hire, depot and service concept created, designed with the specific needs of disabled visitors in mind," according to an item at easier.com.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A tent for campers with wheels

Me, I'm not one for camping. But if you are a wheelchair user and a camper, check out this post at Rolling Rains.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

More accessible Metro

Detroit Metropolitan Airport will conduct a survey of its accessibility, appoint two employees to address accessibility concerns, consider a volunteer board on accessibility policy and add accessibility information to the airport website. Did airport officials just get feeling proactive? Of course not. The action is being taken to ward off legal action threatened by a group of Detroit advocates for the disabled. With the moves by the airport, the advocates have dropped their plans for a lawsuit. "This is a really great blueprint that is going to bring Metro Airport up to the same standard that other airports are functioning at," said attorney Richard Bernstein, who is blind and spearheaded the advocacy group. Congrats to Bernstein's group for providing the needed push.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Let them access your mind

Candy Harrington reminds that there is still time to make comments to the Access Board on new guidelines for cruise ships. If your a cruiser, let them know what needs to be done. Candy says: "Comments can be e-mailed to pvag@access-board.gov, faxed to (202) 272-0081 or mailed to Office of Technical and Information Services, Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, 1331 F Street NW, suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-1111. Be sure and include Docket No. 2004-1 in all of your correspondence on this subject. Comments sent by e-mail will be considered only if they contain the full name and address of the sender in the text." Comments will be accepted until Nov. 13.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

For the path otherwise not travelable

Looking to wheelchair off road? The Boma may be for you.

Ryanair insights

I don't really know that much about Ryanair expect for its contentious relationship with travelers with disabilities. This preview of a profile of the company's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, is illuminating, however, even if you don't buy the larger piece (I didn't.).

Handle with care -- PLEASE!

Matthew Rys had a bad experience to say the least with his new wheelchair on a trip. On his trip down to Florida, it was stowed with the baggage and he was "saddened by all the broken parts" on the $30,000 chair. He filed a claim and in the meantime made due in order to continue the trip. Eventually arriving back home in Chicago at Midway Airport "the whole family watched in horror as the wheelchair came rolling down a conveyor, only to smash to the ground below. This time, it was almost inoperable."
It took a while, but it part thanks to the positive power of the press there was a happy ending. The Fixer column of the Chicago Sun-Times contacted AirTran Airlines on his behalf and a check to replace the chair found its way to Rys -- after only about seven months of waiting.

An extension of one's self

This LA Times article is an interesting look at the issue of service animals on planes.

The airlines' position, by the way, is all too familiar. It costs too much to accommodate everyone.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

In the name of safety?

Ahed Mohan was not allowed to board a plane in Bangalore because airline officials thought he would be a threat to the safety of passengers.
What raised this alarm? Ahed is an 11-year-old boy with autism.
Eventually Ahed and his family were allowed on the flight after 45 minutes delay.
In the final analysis, this article at ndtv.com says it best: "While so much is being talked about making airports disabled friendly by constructing ramps, what is required now is change in mindsets (rather) than concrete structures."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A good Choice

Choice Hotels is to be commended for its support of the Daisychain Foundation in Ireland. Says the Kilkenney Advertiser: "This year so far, the'Time for you' programme (a Daisychain project), has provided over 1,000 complimentary bedrooms at Clarion Hotels, Quality Hotels and Comfort Inns to families who are living with an intellectually or physically disabled child. Over 250 two-night breaks were taken throughout Ireland by parents and siblings of children with disabilities, some taking the opportunity to travel with or without their child."
I know everyone has their own situation, but my sincere hope is that everyone who benefits from this program will take the opportunity to try travel with their child who has a disability. It may open a whole new world for you.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Staying in Seville

The Hotel Las Casas de la Juderia, Seville, Spain, sounds quite interesting from this review. And it has accessible rooms.