Accessible Travel: Resources for Explorers with Disabilities

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 @ 03:17 PM


Traveling with a disability may be difficult, but it is not impossible. Understanding current federal laws that protect those with disabilities helps guard citizens' rights whether traveling by air, accessing websites to book vacations or seeking accessible accommodations. Preparation and careful planning are essential for all travelers, but for the disabled traveler, this can mean the difference between a vacation in paradise, or a trip to hell and back. Wherever the destination, the disabled explorer must equip him or herself by understanding their rights, travel industry regulations and ensuring that the industry meets their individual needs. Making certain an intended destination is accessible and disabled-friendly is paramount to a successful vacation.

Resources for Blind Travelers

Whether traveling independently with a guide dog and/or cane, or accompanying a seeing person on vacation, there are certain safety measures blind travelers must take. Maintaining a sense of independence is important for those dealing with vision-loss, but the decision to travel alone is not one to take lightly. It is always safest to travel with a trusted companion; but if that isn't an option, blind travelers can journey independently as long as they take necessary precautions. Determine what assistance your preferred transportation choice provides, place of lodging and points of interest before planning your trip. Decide whether you will use provided assistance or truly travel independently. Find the layout of places you will visit and familiarize yourself beforehand. If flying by plane, select a boarding pass to save time.

Deaf Travelers

Deaf travelers often find that they can have successful journeys as long as they make arrangements ahead of their scheduled departure. Always notify travel-related industries you are hearing impaired, whether it's an airline, the hotel you will stay at or intended sites you will visit. Preparing for difficulty in advance can ensure you have eliminated trouble before it occurs. Arrive early to ensure plenty of time to let transportation officials know you are hearing impaired and will need personal notification when time to board. Make certain to have written verification for travel arrangements when applicable. Print confirmation records and keep them with you when traveling. Take extra care when traveling with hearing aids. Keep hearing aids with you and don't place them in checked luggage. Bring extra batteries and prepare for climate changes that may spell trouble due to increased humidity. Dry hearing aids regularly when visiting humid climates. It is imperative that workers, managers and officials know you are hearing impaired should an emergency arrive.

Wheelchair Travel Resources

Planning a vacation for those in wheelchairs requires plenty of research in advance. Determining which mode of transportation, choice of lodging or vacation destination is wheelchair accessible is of the utmost concern. A computer is invaluable when determining travel plans and ensuring that a company is accessible for those in wheelchairs. There are federal laws in place to ensure the travel and tourism industry does not discriminate against those in wheelchairs. When planning a vacation, consider more than what the company, airline or hotel chain says about their policies. Look for complaints filed by other members of the disabled community and weigh all information. When leaving for a destination, arrive early, as many companies prefer those in wheelchairs to pre-board and are given seats with easy access to restrooms and exits. Always have wheelchairs serviced, repaired or upgraded before embarking on a vacation or other travel destination.

Accessibility Resources

There are state, federal and local resources that members of the disabled community may access for further information regarding travel and tourism. Determining current laws, regulations, rules or policies that oversee the travel and tourism industry helps the disabled community protect their civil rights. When traveling out of state or overseas, check with the official travel and tourism board for their policies and make certain they coincide with U.S. laws. Technology has created greater access to shared accessibility resources, wheelchair accessible routes and lets members of the disabled community know the best places to visit.

General Handicapped Travel Resources

Disability does not mean that a person may never travel again. Every disability is different and individuals have various needs. When preparing a vacation or trip, one must ensure there are no hidden dangers and that an individual will have his or her needs met, regardless of what they are. Taking the time to research, carefully preparing for difficulties and ensuring the destination is accessible can prevent frustration, disappointment and a disastrous trip. Utilizing preventative measures can keep the disabled person mobile, independent and safe during their journey.


Tags: traveling with child with disabilities

Tips for the Holidays for Families with Special Needs

Posted by Patricia Manko on Fri, Dec 07, 2012 @ 08:59 AM

holiday girl resized 600We all could use a little help during the holidays! This is one of the reasons, a non-profit in San Mateo, CA created a Holiday Survival Guide for Families with Special Needs in 2010.   The guide provides parents with helpful tips and resources to utilize during this busy and stressful time of year. It will help you navigate the change in schedules to finding a sensory safe Santa to how to explain to the grandparents why your child may not eat grandma's stuffing. Here is a directory of topics covered in the Guide:

  • How To Thrive During The Holidays
  • Top Toys for Children with Special Needs (there are updated versions of this list available online)
  • Love, Laugh & Live: The Emotional Side of the Holidays 
  • Holiday Decoration Tips 
  • Santa Clause 101: Five Ways To Prepare For A Visit With Santa 
  • Reinventing Hanukkah For Special Needs Families

Click here to download a copy of Abilitypath's Holiday Survival Guide.

With, 2012.  

Tags: autism, holidays for special needs, traveling with child with disabilities

Air Travel and your Child with Special Needs

Posted by Patricia Manko on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 @ 01:20 PM

boy and plane resized 600Air travel today is a process few would describe as simple and stress-free. When traveling with a child navigating baggage check and security gives a parent a workout before even boarding the plane!

Here are two resources oriented for families of children with autism but useful for any parent to check into if you plan to travel by air with your child with a disability:

Wings for Autism  The Charles River Autism Support Center, in partnership with Mass port and logan and Manchester airports and the TSA are offering airport rehearsals for children with autism spectrum disorder.  The program is designed to allieviate some of the stress involved in taking a family vacation with a child with autism.  Families practice entering the airport, getting boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane.

  Click on the link below to register for the next rehearsal- November 3, 2012. 

Testing Autism and Air Travel  This article in yesterday's New York Times Travel section both details the experiences families of children with autism have had with commercial air travel and gives helpful tips on navigating the experience. 

Tags: traveling with child with disabilities

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