When Traveling With Disabilities, Get Details On Accessibility
Recently, my wife suffered severe complications from surgery, and her recovery is ongoing. This taught me a lot about traveling with someone who has disabilities, and I'd like to share my experiences.
Many hotels, restaurants, and businesses claim to be "handicapped accessible", and I'm sure most try to be inclusive and welcoming. However, it can be disheartening to find, on arrival, that access is limited or frustrating. Simply having a ramp from the parking lot to the door is not enough. If a location can be "scouted" first, that's ideal, but if not, here's some questions to ask in advance:
Are doors to all areas you need to visit wide enough to accommodate your, or your family member's, mobility equipment? Wheelchairs and walkers come in many sizes.
Are there handicapped-accessible bathroom facilities, and is the route to them also accessible? (Trying to maneuver a wheelchair through a crowded restaurant in order to reach the restroom is not fun for anyone.)
For hotels, in particular: Where are the elevators relative to both a handicapped-accessible entrance, and our room? (It is also good to ask about the size of bathroom doors in the room -- some are too narrow to admit some types of mobility equipment, or the space outside the door doesn't permit pivoting.)
Can all facilities (pool, computer room, game room/arcade) be reached from your room via accessible routes? Again, it's not just a matter of the location itself having appropriate doors, ramps, and so on, but that you can actually get there without having to exit one door, circle the hotel from the outside, and then enter another door. (Based on actual experience -- the only internal path from our room to the computer center was down a flight of stairs.)
Special Globe works with the travel industry to help address these issues. Please contact us for more information.
From Parents, Travel Writers,