Like any other type of person, people with physical disabilities enjoy traveling and vacations. For too long, the needs of the disabled community have not been recognized where traveling is concerned nor do the general public recognize that people with disabilities can and do travel. Fortunately, our world is evolving and accessibility is now a buzz word in reference to the disabled community. Many areas of our society are making steps to provide accessibility to those in need. One of these areas are in traveling with a disability.
Firstly, most urban areas in North America are running accessible transit systems, taxi cabs and trains. For example, in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa, a person using a wheelchair or mobility scooter can use a ramp system and ride most transit routes and with any taxi company while seated in their device. At this time, there is still a short route train system called the O-Train which is fully accessible in the same way. While still a work in progress, Ottawa is a model for accessible traveling within a city setting. All key tourism sites are easily accessed with minimal advanced planning.
On a larger scale, traveling abroad is developing. Most planes, trains and buses are not immediately accessible and require some advanced arrangements for traveling by wheelchair or mobility scooter. These modes of travel will involve assistance from staff to use and your device may not even be able to travel with you based on cargo limitations. At this time, I understand that boat cruises are known to be primarily accessible by wheelchairs or mobility scooters and oftentimes, require little to no advanced planning to board with these devices. It would probably be most advisable to create a “scouted itinerary” no matter the mode of travel or vacation destination to assure no gaps in accessibility.
With this in mind, one should know the accessibility of accommodations, restaurants and land marks to assure that these can be visited by wheelchair or mobility scooter.Outside of North America, there will be a broad range of accessibility issues as some countries and continents are far less developed for people with physical disabilities. While booking with a travel agent may be of great assistance, there will be some destinations that are challenging to near impossible for people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
To visit places with remote access would rely on one’s own abilities, bravado and creativity. A person with physical disabilities can easily choose to turn their travels into an activist vacation and educate others on creating accessibility. Physical disabilities are an international issue and experienced by all persons throughout the world. Adequate accessibility for people with wheelchairs and mobility scooters are not.
Depending on the chosen destination, a person using a wheelchair or mobility scooter may need to ask a couple of people to carry them up the stairs of a tourism site to view it in its entirety. This becomes a personal choice on how to create accessibility based on a comfort level. Remember, it takes some amount of courage for most people to ask for assistance in a foreign land and a person with physical disabilities is no different that way.
In closing, let’s simply ditch the stigma of people with physical disabilities not taking vacations. These dreams and journeys are entirely possible. Dare to dream them and make them happen.