June 2005 Archives

Interview with Designer Marcie Harris

Top Designers of 2004: Interview with Marcie Harris is a quick romp through Green Design, Universal Design, and the constellation of attitudes and practiices that make for good design.

<img alt=

Have you ever found something so good that you want to keep it all to yourself?

OK, I plead guilty to that charge when it comes to the work of Shared Adventures in Santa Cruz, California -- and especially their signature event "Day on the Beach."

<img alt=

Each year this event springs out of chaos into a mellow-vibed, but logistically astounding, occupation of Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz. More than three hundred volunteers show up to help more than 150 people with disabilities experience water sports like: surfing, kayaking, outrigger canoeing, beach wheelchairs. This year a sneak appearance of the new Vexel Quovis will be added to the usual line-up of great bands and food.

Docklands Australia Sailability Logo

Sailability is the pioneer organization making sailing availble to people with disabilities. At their web site you can find an ever increasing list of places to sail:


If Australia is on your travel itinerary and sailing is your sport take note. With a new sailing event scheduled for the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition there is some renewed interest in the remarkable, unsinkable Access Dinghies.


Aussie Design for 2008 Paralympic Evaluation

Appreciative Inquiry

Return to the very first posting in the Rolling Rains Report and you will find that this site is about "seeing-that-transforms." Until now I have not made explicit, although some have guessed, that this quality of seeing encompasses the practice known as "Appreciate Inquiry:"

From Pilgrimage: Mindfulness on the Journey January 1, 2004

This site is about seeing. The topic may be travel but the "revolve" is the-seeing-that-transforms.

Not literal sightedness, of course. In fact, I expect active interest by readers using Jaws for Windows or other tools that accommodate visual impairments and make their participation possible.

The seeing I mean here is the seeing of mindfulness.

The discussion will frequently be about business. Specifically, it will be about the business of travel and hospitality. It will look at the economic sustainability of doing busness with the ageing and/or disabled sector of the traveling public. It will look at profit, product development, marketing, competition.

But if this site ever loses grounding in persons - substituting statitistics or truisms for real travelers - then it will have betrayed the author's purpose.

That purpose is pilgrimage.

A pilgrim moves through time and space with an enlarged capacity for "seeing beyond." It may be seeing beyond the daily inconveniences or seeing into an actively imagined alternate present or promised future.

With this capacity comes the ability to hold a gaze of reverence; to appreciate.

Organizations can choose a path of self-definition that involves aligning themselves around the “unconditional positive question.” Design for People: Multi exemplifies this approach -- and the resulting creativity not only in design and implementation but in their innovative crafting of language and at the level of conceptualization of their mission and potential.

As post-tsunami work evolves in the Indian Ocean basin, can it adopt the "Opportunity Audit" approach to reconstruction that Appreciative Inquiry allows?

I am hopeful that the gathering of the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) ,/a> in Thailand this October will, through the efforts of people like Topong Kulkhanchit, Regional Development Officer for Disabled Peoples' International Asia Pacific Region, allow the tourism industry such an opportunity.

Time to Get Used to Usability

"It's too easy for designers and their managers to treat accessibility as an unnecessary and expensive add-on that reduces functionality, but that's no longer an option." -- Bill Thompson, BBC

"Wrap Rage", a term describing user frustration with impossible-to-open packaging, got an airing at Cambridge University during a recent conference on human-centered design. There was also some candid wake-up calls issued that have relevance to the travel and hospitality industry.

Prof Clarkson looked at the market for usable products, pointing out that the number of people who don't count as "able-bodied" is large and getting larger. these people have a lot of money to spend, at least in the developed world. The estimated 54m people with disabilities in the US spend $1 trillion a year - and even in the UK there are 10m disabled customers who have £10bn to spend.


'Come On-A My House' by Ed Smith

Ed Smith posts an interesting, firsthand account of Visitability in his CBC column in the "Disabilty Matters" section. See 'Come On-A My House'

Silvina García Larraburu, in an opinion piece at Noticias de Bariloche in the town of Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina, argues for Universal Design in the development of this world-class tourist destination.

What I prarticularly appreciate about the article, aimed at the local government and tourism industry, is the observation that, "It is essential to consider design in its context and not simply its individual components." Rather than the "reluctant compliance" model this is a call to liberate the imagination to form an appropriate "design response."

It is this contextual awareness of a place as "destination" for a traveler -- beckoning, chosen, temporary, disruptive to one's usual routines, and thoroughly entangled with the practicalities of mobility -- that grounds an Inclusive Destination Development approach.


Hacia un Perfil Turístico Integrador


gauteng provincial government logo.jpg

"Let's meet in Gauteng, South Africa. Blue IQ has a project there called Dinokeng that needs your input on Inclusive Destination Development," reads one of my emails. South Africa has a notable history as an inclusive destination. It is encouraging to learn that Dinokeng will increase the choices avilable.

Silvina García Larraburu, in an opinion piece at Noticias de Bariloche argues for Universal Design in the deevelopment of this world-class tourist destination.

What I particularly appreciate about the article, aimed at the local government and tourism industry, is the observation that, "It is essential to consider design in its context and not simply its individual components." Rather than the "reluctant compliance" model this is can be a process that liberates the imagination allowing it to form an appropriate "design response" during the earliest phases of development.

It is this contextual awareness of a place as "destination" for a traveler -- beckoning, chosen, temporary, disruptive to one's usual routines, and thoroughly entangled with the practicalities of mobility -- that grounds an Inclusive Destination Development approach.


Hacia un Perfil Turístico Integrador


Barrier Busters

Barrier Busters, is a grassroots group in Anacortes, Washington. They have as a goal to improve access in town for seniors and people with disabilities -- improving the quality of life for residents and tourists.

They also have a sense of humor!

After my June 22 comment that Skytrax ought to include photos of airport restrooms. Barrier Busters wrote to tell me they are doing just that for Anacortes WC's -- photos provided by the mysterious photographer "Latrina."

Barrier Busters


Another example of Universal Design migrating back from single family dwellings into multiple family dwellings in the US -- and eventually on to the tourism and hospitality industry: University Neighborhood Apartments in Berkeley, California. One would hope that the affordable housing sector in the US, as in Brazil under Edison Passafaro, would fully embrace Universal Design as mission-critical.

Skytrax features airline and airport reviews by staff and readers. Going somewhere new? See how the airline or airport ranks. Or see if it is listed in the phot gallery. I'll bet there would be a rapid improvement in restroom quality worldwide if they added a "WC" category to the Photo Gallery.



The following article on Inclusive Destination Development in Dubai was submitted to WheelMeOn.org.

In the interest of full disclosure, as I publish a press release verbatim, I want to go on record that I consider Candy Harrington's groundbreaking book, Barrier-Free Travel; A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers, to be the best single resource in English on Inclusive Travel.

And the new edition is even better.


O.K., Vexel Quovis is coming to the USA...but what is it?

I'll tell you as soon as I drive one.

And you can find out, when you see it firsthand, at the next Inclusive Destination Development event in Santa Cruz County, California -- the 13th annual Day on the Beach

The director of Social Welfare in Valenica, Spain has released, Parques Accesibles de la Comunidad Valenciana, a handbook on accessible public space utilizing Univesal Design in Valencia, Spain. As she, Alicia de Miquel explains, "We have moved ahead in the elimination of arcitechtural barriers." With this Universal Design approach Valencia has moved human rights to the design phase - not as an add-on afterthought.

Congratulations, Valenciano/as! Another reason to visit.

Accessible Florida

Florida is a gateway to the Carribbean and South America. It is a destinatiion for Disney fans and beach-lovers. Wheelchairs on the Go: Accessible Fun in Florida by Michelle Stigleman and Deborah Van Brunt takes an in-depth look at all the state has to offer for wheelchair users and slow walkers:


Have you ever had the urge to just drop everything, jump in the car, and head off somewhere on a whim? I just did -- Santa Fe, New Mexico for Santa Fe Design Week!

Terri O'Hare of O'Hare Communications sent me this announcement about a spontaneous expression of pride and artistry in Santa Fe. The artistis' canvas? Reserved parking spaces for people with disabilties. Read more:

Accessible Art: Design Week Artists Paint to Raise Awareness

Do you want to travel to increase travel to Valencia, Spain? Hyderabad, India? Piriapolis, Uruguay? Pattaya, Thailand? Below is a helpful compilation of facts from the First International Tourism Development Forum for People with Special Needs in the Middle East.

Covering Disability Issues

Beth Haller has compiled a useful online resource for journalists:


Dubai Makes a Move Toward Inclusion

Not long ago I continued with the topic of "Theme Parks, Imaginary Worlds, and Real Access" and asked if the DubaiLand theme park would subscribe to Universal Design principles.

What follows is not a direct answer but one that bodes well for the future of Inclusive Destination Development in Dubai. I develop on this news in the article A Fair Sheikh for Travelers with Disabilities.

Campeche, Mexico: Turismo para Todos

Inclusive Tourism has been a development goal of Campeche, Mexico this year.

Inclusive Destination Development in the Carribbean will get a boost as the next phase of St. John's Estate Concordia project takes place startng July 24.

Earthplace nature center in Westport, CT is a nature center feauring Universal Design in their trail system -- Wheels in the Woods. For an example of outdoor access see:


If the Universal Design is the carrot, ADA is the stick.

Mom always said, "Eat you vegetables!" It appears that someone at the apartment complex developer Archstone-Smith didn't listen to mom. Someone, somewhere is saying, "Ouch, hubris hurts!" (Retrofitting is expensive but inclusive design is free.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 8, 2005) The Equal Rights Center
(ERC), the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and
the United Spinal Association along with their counsel, Cohen, Milstein,
Hausfeld, & Toll, PLLC and the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil
Rights and Urban Affairs announced today what is by far the largest
settlement of a lawsuit challenging defects in the design and
construction of multi-family housing under the Fair Housing Act and the
Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a week where Inclusive Destination Development is getting its day in court, one can only hope that other industry players will transcend the reactive stance to ADA compliance and seriously study the evidence that demonstrates the profit to be made by including the senior market and those with disabilities and adopting a unified design response through Universal Design.

The Pump Guide Logo copyright Michigann Paralyzed Veterans of America

Vacation travel alone by car gets anxiety-producing as the gas tank approaches empty -- even more so if you have an ambulatory disability and can't use self-serve pumps. Tom Greenwood of the Detroit News understands that and keeps his readers informed of a solution in Michigan that ought to be replicated elsewhere.

Thanks to the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America, disabled drivers can plan their vacation route to include gas stations where they can have fuel pumped for them at self-serve prices. The MPVA provides this information because there's no technology to aid the disabled with the inconvenience of self-serve gasoline.



Why Dubai?

Dubai keeps getting good press as an accessible destination.

Al Tiqah Club Logo

Air Emirates maintains its reputation as disabled friendly. Inclusion seems to be a national goal with examples like the Tri-Dubai triathletes and the Al Thiqah Club. Concept Media, a Dubai-based publisher produces the cross disabilty magazine "Challenge." This Spring they celebrated their first anniversary.

But, leading from behind the scenes, impervious to the doubts of his detractors, Sheikh Mohammed, leads a steady course toward Dubai's emergence as, in his words, "the world’s finest hub for finance, business and tourism." Inclusion is part of that vision.

In the full text of his address below to the "Dubai Government Excellence Programme Awards ceremony" in April, 2005 note how he recognizes the important contribution of people with disabilities. With leadership like that, Dubai may reach its goal of attraction 3 million tourists with disabilities.

"Freedom from One Generation to Another"

I have been quite pleased with National Public Radio this past week for airing stories that educate on Inclusive Travel and Universal Design without ever actually using the phrases. When topics like this move beyond topical publications like the Rolling Rains Report, and do so without the jargon, it is a sure sign that the concepts have spread into popular culture and cease to be a novelty.

Today's story on a group of disabled WWII veterans traveling from Michigan to the WWII Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC is at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4684360

One Step Forward. Two Steps Back?

This unfortunate news item comes from Dave Reynolds at Inclusion Daily Express.

ADA and Foreign-flagged Cruise Ships

A limited victory for ADA on cruise ships. See several reports below.

Once again, let me reiterate, that the obsolete traditions of inaccessibilty masquerading under the rubric of "seaworthiness" must be fundamentally reconsidered from the perspective of Universal Design.

While today's weak implementation of ADA will be exploited by the less imaginative in the industry as a time to retreat into a frenzy of loophole chasing, those who understand their market, and its growth potential as Boomers age, will observe the constuction industry's shift to barrier-free, universally designed private homes -- and follow suit.

As Universal Design becomes day-to-day "normal" in people's homes, why imagine they will pay to be incovenienced on ships that exclude them by design? As Universal Design is recognized for what it is - simply "good design" - what industry exectutive could be foolish enough to pilot his or her career onto the shoals by approving inaccessible design in even one more additional cruise ship?

Inclusion projected from the design phase incurs no costs. Retrofitting expenses on any inaccessible passenger ships built from this day forward ought to be drawn from the salary line of those who gambled on salvation through loopholes - and lost.

For another opinion, one perhaps casting a bit more "light" than mine does "heat", I recommend Candy Harrington:

"And the Verdict Is In (Kind Of)"

Student Travel & US Policy

Some experiences are predictably transformative.

The opportunity to be an international exchange student twice in high school and once as an undergraduate, together with the privilege of studying abroad at Oxford as a professional make my life a testimony to the permanent significance of quality student exchange opportunities.

The Association of American Universities and the American Association for the Advancement of Science are leading a coalition of 40 organizations who recognize the crucial importance to the United States of student and researcher exchange.

Accessibie India

From Global Access:


If the mystical land of India seems beyond the range of your disability needs, two disabled Indian men want to convince you otherwise. Anjalee Aggarwal and Sanjeev Sachdeva, who both have muscular dystrophy, believe that barrier-free tourism plays an essential role in integrating disabled people into society. In 1996, they started Samarthya to help organize tours for disabled travelers of historical, tourist and religious places in India.

To learn more, visit http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=130421

Or contact Samarthya at anjeevsach@hotmail.com

UN work on establishing the rights of people with disabilities continues. A workshop will be held in Bangkok Thailand, on 5 July 2005 examining Community-Based Rehabilitation as a tool for poverty alleviation of persons with disabilities. The World Enable coalition site contains a useful bibliography of resources on the topic at:

http://www.worldenable.net/cbr2005/materials.htm The purpose of the workshop is to further develop the Joint Statement on Poverty Alleviation among Persons with Disabilities Look at this in tandem with the concepts of Pro-Poor Tourism:



The World Health Organization reports:

More than 1000 million people will be over 60 years old by 2025, the vast majority in the developing world, and this figure is expected to double by 2050.

Travel & Disability at Suite 101

The newest article at Travel & Disability at Suite 101 is a review of one of the categories in the link collection. Sites by Travelers with Disabilities: Links at Suite101.com reviews the links found listed as "Sites by Travelers with Disabilities."



Ilene Zeitzer interviews Judy Heumann, World Bank Advisor on Disability & Development in a piece that was originally published in, "Change from Within: International Overview of the Impact of Disabled Politicians and Disability Policy Bodies on Governance". The interview was part of the final report of the International Disability Exchnages and Studies (IDEAS) Project for the New Millennium, 199-2004 and was a joint project carried out by the World Institute on Disability (WID) and Rehabilitation International (RI).

Ilene Zeitzer is President of Disability Policy Solutions

Universal Design is gaining a high profile at the Canadian National Institute for
the Blind.

When the new permutations and turns of phrase begin to surface as quickly as they are doing now it is one more indication that Universal Design has entered into the popular imagination.

Read Joyce Krisko's article today at TheMatureMarket.com, "The Housing Choice for the Future."