Opportunities Abound for Travel and Accessibility
My first column for Muscular Dystrophy News Today focused on the excitement of starting something new in life. I promised that future columns would focus on the many adventures awaiting us.
The hope of traveling and seeing the world is exciting. And companies are offering better information about accessible accommodations.
I am fortunate to have traveled extensively. Much of this came before the onset of my symptoms of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. But in the past 10 years, as I have become progressively weaker, I have continued to travel. I have also talked about travel and accommodations with many individuals with muscular dystrophy.
There are two important areas to focus on when traveling with a disability: first, getting to your destination and moving around the area where you are staying; then, the accessibility of the living space where you will reside.
We have seen positive movement globally on accessible travel. The more remote the area, the more limited the transportation options. But a growing number of companies focus on trips for people with disabilities.
Blogger Cory Lee focuses on “sharing the world from a wheelchair user’s perspective.” I signed up to receive emails from Cory after reading a few of his columns. His experiences in Iceland captured my imagination, and his tips on cruising are a must read. When I read about a wheelchair guide to Savannah, Georgia, that includes what to do, where to eat, and where to stay, I was ready to dive in.
The biggest gap in the “getting there” is still wheelchair accessibility on airplanes. The good news is that in many cities, once you arrive, accessible transportation is available.
There has been great improvement in the services and variety of living accommodations, but you need to do your homework. This means looking at online pictures of hotels and reading about the spaces. I like to call to find out what types of rooms are offered.
I recently came across Mobility Mojo, a start-up company in Ireland. “One in two people with a disability won’t travel for fear of something going wrong,” says Stephen Cluskey, the company’s CEO and co-founder.
I reached out to Mobility Mojo, but the services they have are for hotels and companies that offer living space. They directed me to the Virgin Hotels website as an example of a chain that uses their services. I decided to try it out.
At the Chicago Virgin Hotel website, I clicked on the hotel accessibility button. This took me to an accessibility rating. This hotel was 8.3, considered “gold level.” The gold level is described as having “outstanding examples offering superb levels of accessibility.”
The website offered specific information in three categories: general, bedroom, and bathroom. I sampled the information on the bathroom to get a sense of what was covered. It had pictures and an unbelievable amount of data. It gave specific widths for bathroom doors and the height of toilets. It also covered grab bars, clear space under the sink, lower mirror height, and more. I was impressed.
As companies such as Mobility Mojo enter this arena, accessibility will improve. Hotels will be competing for our business — and that is a good thing.
The best news is that we are moving toward a more accessible world. I realize that not everyone likes to travel. But for that 50 percent of the disability community that won’t travel for fear of something going wrong, there is now a chance for real adventures.
Happy travels to all. If you’ve used other sites to plan your vacations, please share them. I love to explore the possibilities!
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.