October 2005 Archives

Tourism: The World's Largest Industry

Tourism is the world's largest industry.

As such, the Rolling Rains Report daily emphasizes its accountability for inclusion of those with mobility limitations, disabilities, or low stamina and advocates for industry adoption of Universal Design. Still too often, especially in developing countries, those who would most benefit from public and private infrastucture incorporating Universal Design are poor or underemployed.

Advocates for sustainable development are allied in this effort, as outlined in the the Rio Declaration: Universal Design for Sustainable and Inclusive Development. Counterpart, a 40 year old development organization exemplifies the multifacted approach that is necessary:

Lelei LeLaulu, president of leading development agency Counterpart International, hailed WTO's proposals to the United Nations summit in New York last week as practical and fundable ways to use sustainable tourism to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Two Conferences on Peace Through Tourism

Two conferences addressing peace and tourism took place during October 2005. Only one addressed social inclusion and inclusive travel.

AARP Passport for Senior Travelers

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- AARP Services, Inc. announced the results of a travel study at the Adventure Travel World Summit. Yes, AARP and adventure travel. AARP Services' travel study finds that 55 percent of baby boomers consider themselves adventurous and 77 percent feel they are more adventurous than their parents. The study finds that boomers are choosing activities including motorcycling, white water rafting and salt water fishing. The study also found an increase in the number of baby boomers booking travel online. In conjunction with the online booking trend, AARP Services is launching a travel website called AARP Passport.

If you visit the oficial tourism site for Parkerburg, West Virginia you will see some interesting attractions listed as well as this quote:

America's Number #1 Road Atlas has selected Greater Parkersburg as one of five U.S. driving tours to take in 2006! Download a copy of the tour itinerary here.

Dig a little deeper and you will read that, "More than half the U.S. population lives within a day's drive of the Historic River Cities of Ohio and West Virginia."

What they forgot to tell you is here -- that if you use a wheelchair, Parkersburg has its sights set on being a very comfortable place for you to get out of the car and spend some time!

Dave Reynolds at Inclusion Daily Express caught the following story about one grassroots effort in Chicago to make that city a more inclusive destination.

An article in the Sauderton Independent, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania begins withh this prophetic observation:

The generation responsible for overcrowding schools and overburdening the transportation system is getting older and soon is going to require housing and healthcare services, which may be either insufficient or unavailable, unless local business and service providers are prepared.

But this generation will be healthier, more active, and traveling more than previous generations. Is the hospitality & travel industry preparing a new set of products follolwing the principles of Universal Design?

An HHS press release lists honorees including:

* Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (Los Angeles, Calif.), the award-winning
television show, for extraordinary contributions to educate America
about disabilities and to demonstrate how universal design
innovative home accommodations, the spirit of community involvement, and
corporate creativity can help persons with disabilities enjoy lives of
promise, purpose and value.

Even so, KSL Channel 5 in Salt Lake City reports, Few Homes Accommodate Physical Disabilities

Katrina, Motels, & a Universal Design Makeover

Barbara McKee writes for the Albuquerque Tribune. An ongoing theme of her column is a Universal Design makeover of her bathroom. Today she offers an illumminating insight into the impact of Katrina on her project at " Surprise Ripples: Disasters touch even small home projects as costs accumulate"


There will be a report of preliminary findings on the impact of Hurricane Katrina presented at the University of Buffalo on Wednesday, November 2, beginning at 7:00 p.m. The program is entitled, “Examining Extreme Events: Hurricane Katrina's Impact on Critical Infrastructure, Societal Systems, Public Health and Environment”

A report, Standards and Anthropometry for Wheeled Mobility, is now available from a study the Access Board commissioned on wheeled mobility and human measures.

Sometimes, all that is necessary is a quote. Dan Bawden writes for Legal Eagle Contractors to make a point even better than I could do it myelf:

The Greater Houston Builders Association (“GHBA”) is one of the only locations in the country offering regular certification classes in Aging-in-Place/Universal design. “We designed the [Certified Aging in Place Specialist] CAPS certification for people involved in residential design and construction” says Bawden. It’s a welcome surprise that the CAPS training classes also bring in realtors, architects, ASID Designers, and occupational therapists.”

“As design-build remodelers, we discuss the wisdom of planning ahead with aging-in-place ideas with all our clients from the beginning - young and old” says Howie Sussman, a Project Manager for Legal Eagle, adding “Things like lever handle faucets, grab bars, raised washers, dryers, and dishwashers are good universal design ideas for everyone, from seniors to grandchildren. It’s a no-brainer”.

Realtors used to worry that “universal design” or “visitable” home would decrease a home’s value, having a “hospital-like” look. They are finding out that the opposite is true. “If attractive, non-institutional products and handsome design ideas are used, the value of that home actually increases”, according to Bawden.

Korea Discovers a Special Niche in Tourism?

It is no secret among wheelchair users that finding accessibile public restrooms can require an inordinate amount of time, energy, and logistical preparation. To use a popular geek quote entirely out of context, "Findability preceedes usability." Both, however, are essential - and most often urgently so when traveling.

So Korea's "Public Restrooms Law" and the "Citizens Coalition for Restroom Culture" may be the wave of the future -- ostentatiously beautiful and pleasant restroom. Kitchen & Bath Remodeling Specialists take note! The change in Korea has certainly been dramatic:

Today's post is a lesson in good press release writing!

With the popularization of Universal Design it is more common to see misuse of the term. Writers in the US frequently confuse UD and ADA.

None of the popular articles I have read in the past year list the seven principles of Universal Design - or even indicate that the UD philosophy consists of seven principles. They equate universally designed products that were created using the seven principles of UD or the use of such products in, for example, bathroom remodels, as Universal Design itself. None explain the history of UD as arising out of the disability rights movement and that it is thus an authentic cultural product and political expression of the disability community -- the uniquely authentic expression of the political will of a community containing more than 50 million people in the US alone.

Ryan Air Gets it Wrong -- Again!

The UK's discount airlines seems to have undervalued its clientelle, again.

The company split up a partly of blind passengers on their way from the UK to Italy "because the flight had more than its "quota" of disabled people". Inclusion Daily Express reports:

A China - Macao Itinerary

Accessible Journeys suggests an itinerary for China that includes Shanghai, Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Hong Kong and Macao.

You can find it at: http://www.disabilitytravel.com/independent/accessible-china.htm

Rebuild New Orleans

Lawrence Geller has a vision for rebuilding New Orleans. It revolves around destination development. It ought to revolve around Inclusive Destination Development. even the best laid "master plans" fall flat when they overlook the integrating power of Universal Design -- and the markets they open up.

Suggestions for rebuilding New Orleans appear to be coming from everywhere these days. They may make headlines, but, regrettably, they will lead to only more of the same. What is required is a "big picture" master plan from a latter-day Robert Moses, the visionary who remade New York City more than a half century ago. In order to maximize the potential growth in tourism, these three key tourist areas must be cohesively linked by a new light-transportation infrastructure to create a much more integrated and economically viable city.

The disability community in Mississippi is not pleased.
The fundamental law, "Nothing about us, without us," has been violated.


If southern Mississippi is to be rebuilt after Katrina as a liveable community it will be in spite of rather than because of the recent design fest that ignored the one design philosophy with historical roots in the disability community; the authentic voice in the built environment of people with disabilities -- Universal Design.

Tactile Wayfinding

Studies on travel and disability consistently report that wayfinding is a key unmet need of travelers with disabilities. Studies also indicate that those with visual impairments experience unique travel barriers and travel less as a result.

A research project of the Department of Geography, University of
Oregon offer some prommise in this area. They have received a grant to create Tactile Mapping Software and will make their product freely available..

World Usability Day: November 3, 2005

World usability day logo

Universal Design in the creation of online information and physical products is often captured by the term "Usability." Kiosk design, wayfinding sytems, and ergonomic luggage systems have all been discussed here as good examples of what in other contexts would be called usability or human centered design.

November 3, 2005 (all 36 hours of it according to event organizers) is World Usability Day. The official web site is here.

OXO is the champion of kitchen utensil Universal Design with its Good Grips line of products. I carry one of their ice cream scoops to every speaking engagement as a "show & tell."


Lowe's home improvement stores and OXO have teamed up to launch a line of 22 hand tools using the principles of Universal Design.

Beginning to feel like a revolution yet? World Usability Day broadcasting the benefits of Universal Design worldwide on November 3, Green Construction and Universal Design converging, and Lowe's arming both the professional and the Do-It-Yourself crowd with a 9-piece "Essential Home Tool Kit."

What's to stop bands of skilled volunteers from descending on New Orleans, or Biloxi, or Banda Acheh and using these appropriately designed tools appropriately -- to rebuild them with state-of-the art accessibility?

The Green/Universal Design Convergence

The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) has published Creating Sustainable Interiors which provides interior design professionals with an overview of environmentally-friendly design.

The book's author is Penny Bonda,

Bonda suggests that one day, “green design” will be as common as universal design, and codes will direct designers in the right direction. Until then, interior designers must find ways to achieve common-sense environmental solutions in the most practical way possible.

Valencia recently published a manual on creating Universally Designed parks and recreational spaces. This week they announced the allocation of 235,000 Euros to implement plans for such parks,

See http://www.panorama-actual.es/noticias/not180732.htm

Katrina, Trailers, and Universal Design

Quality in Tourism and Inclusive Travel

Turismo Polibea Logo

I am very pleased to see Turismo Polibea of Madrid, Spain increase its offerings in English. Spain has long been a strong proponent of Inclusive Tourism but their pioneering efforts have been somewhat overlooked by those who cannot access the information in Spanish.

Most recently at their siteLuis Grünewald of Fundación Turismo para Todos has published a study of quality in inclusive tourism. Much has been written about the nuts & bolts of Universal Design in travel but Grünewald joins a small group of authors such as Peter Rice of Australia in developing the concept of Universal Management.

Read : Quality in Tourism and Inclusive Travel

In light of the recent devastation in the US due to Hurricane Katrina the excellent work of David Dowall , Professor of City and Regional Planning and Director of the Institute of Urban and Regional Development at the University of California at Berkeley is all the more timely. He has produced the UC Berkeley and Chulalongkorn University’s Strategic Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development in Krabi Province in response to the tsunami in the region.

The team has also produced a documentary video:
or at:

See the report below.

Manifest Accessibility

The article "Manifest Accessibility" (reprinted below) appeared on March 7, 2005 at the Travel & Disability section of Suite 101.com. For a complete list of articles see the column to the left or go to the welcome page at http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/travel_with_disabilities

Monitoring the Mississippi Redesign Initiative


The possibility exists for some truly remarkable livability and Universal Design advances to be made in southern Mississippi - but they will not occurr automatically.

These items on Biloxi, Mississippi's post-Katrina plans appeared yesterday:

Five minutes for a more accessible rebuilt Biloxi

Rebuilding Biloxi with Local Wisdom and Universal Design


If Not Biloxi, Where? If Not Now, When?

The future is in Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, D'Iberville, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point and Pascagoula.


Hurricane Katrina will mark the inauguration of Universal Design as a new cornerstone of city and regional planning. "Liveable Communities," "Inclusive Destinations," "Visitable Homes," will find their first large scale concrete manifestation in the United States in these coastal Mississippi towns -- maybe.

The reasons are clear:

An estimated 20 percent of the United States population has a disability
making this the largest minority group in the nation. People with
disabilities have the highest rate of poverty of any minority group in the
United States. Geographically, nearly 40 percent of people reporting a
disability live in the South-twice the percentage of people with
disabilities in the other regions of the country.

Rebuilding Biloxi, Mississippi

New Urbanism is the wrong response to Hurrican Katrina.

Biloxi is being tested with the Tragedy of the Commons. Will it succumb to New Urbanism's superficial charms or will it hold to its own strong tradition of community?


Jim Barksdale, head of the Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal said in his open letter to the community last Sunday, "In the face of this tragedy, we have an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild and renew this region we all love so much. " He adds, "We can have all the best ideas in the world, but if they don't work for your communities, this whole process will be for naught."

Exclusion by design is one idea that won't work for Mississippi communities.

As we noted before in Eleanor Smith's article from Edge-Centric,

New Urbanists, whose ideas are influencing community design all over the country, tout walkable communities, decreasing energy waste from suburban commuters by revitalizing inner cities, and other socially advanced principles. Proponents repeatedly assert that such home-office-store communities, because of their density and proximity to shopping and public transportation, are excellent for older people who can no longer drive.

The contradiction is that, by and large, the homes constructed in these "ideal" communities are neither livable nor visitable by people with mobility impairments-- and not a wise choice for temporarily able-bodied older people, either. New Urbanist Design Glenwood Park Atlanta
New Urbanists have been the chief designers who, beginning in the 1980's, brought back the "classic" multi-stepped houses with front porches high above grade -- houses that are worse for disabled and older people than the typical house styles of 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's -- this at a time when the aging of the population is a widely reported trend, and younger disabled people are surviving longer than ever before.

Greg Smith, of Ocean Springs, Mississippi offers the right solution.


Biloxi flirts with New Urbanism today in a series of charettes reports the Sun Herald in Urban Design Sessions Start Today by David Tortorano. A better approach would be Lex Frieden's "Livable Communiities" initiative.

Lex Frieden, Chairperson of the National Council on Disability, reminds us of an over-arching planning and design concept for post-disaster reconstruction. With room to accommodate Universal Design, Visitability, and Inclusive Destination Development, NCD's program for Universal Livability is outlined in a letter to president Bush below and in the document, "Livable Communities for Adults with Disabilities."

Something Revolutionary from China

"Sun City apartments differ from ordinary housing. The universal design approach makes homes suitable regardless of the inhabitant's changing physical condition," writes Liu Jie in an article entitled "Aged Exports."

But it is not only the design of the facility but the design of the business and service model that makes the reciprocal metathesis concept of the Sun City International Aged People Community so revolutionary. Resident seniors are able to move internationally between Sun City apartments located in various countries around the world creating a new model for senior travel.

Ireland Online reports on a positive development for seniors and travelers with disabilities using European Union airports in the article

Airport agreement to end discrimination against disabled

The agreement on mobility access, which is to be adopted by each member state, prohibits operators from denying reservations or boarding to persons because of their disability or age.

Any person with a disability also has the right to receive assistance free of charge at airports and on board craft.

Three cheers for Greg Smith!


  1. He made it out of the Gulf Coast alive and with his attitude intact before Katrina hit.
  2. He keeps turning out quality work like On a Roll Radio and On a Roll: Reflections from America's Wheelchair Dude with the Winning Attitude.
  3. His melifluous voice resonating through the speakers of my car stereo this evening made me seriously consider doubling my pledge to KQED, the San Francisco Bay Areas' National Public Radio Affiliate as he said what no one else has said yet on national media - rebuild the Gulf Coast using the principles of Universal Design.

To hear the story go to NPR.

Grade the News on Restaurant Review Payola

Wired on Wheels logo.gif

When planning a trip to a new destination there are many sources of information. Wired on Wheels is one valuable source. Local newspapers are usually another.

But what happens when a newspaper review is tainted? Read an article on payola in restaurant reviews at John McManus' "Grade the News"


Wunago Travel

Wunago Contest Photo.jpg

Loren Worthington, founder of Wunago Travel does a great service to the Inclusive Travel community. Through Wunago he is expanding the market for accessible destinations and arranging travel for wheelchair users. They also have a fun contest. See if you can guess where these photos were taken.

What I appreciate about this article in the Daily Record by columnist Warren Boroson is that it puts in print what Universal Design promoters have been observing over the past several years, "These days, builders in general are being encouraged to pursue "universal design," so the houses they construct are safe and comfortable not just for the young and healthy but for the elderly and ill."

It also has some very good advice on how to evaluate the credentials of someone offering to redesign homes.

Let us hope that FEMA has such experts on staff as they redesign and rebuild the region devastated by Katrina. The failure to do so will be expensive in the short term as lost tourist trade, and even more expensive in the long term as poor design is retrofitted to accommmodate the aging baby Boom generation.

The "State of the Science Conference on Accessible Transportation" will be held in Portland, Oregon on October 31 and November 1, 2006. The event is sponsored by the National Center for Accessible Transportation at Oregon State University.

Tracking Progress in Inclusive Travel

At About.com the editor of the Business Travel section caught this NY Times article back in February 2004. See "Travelers with Disabilities: Hotels Are Starting to Get It"

Web 2.0 logo.gif

As the Web 2.0 Conference gets underway in San Francisco my contribution is an article at Suite 101.com exploring Common Times as one answer to the question, "What does Web 2.0 offer for the development of Inclusive Travel & Tourism?"

"Using Web 2.0 for the Benefit of Universal Design and Inclusive Travel"

Michael Bérubé Makes My Day

As predicted, Katrina has disappeared from the news stream.

As observed, recognized spokespeople within the disability community never made it into the published mainstream of Katrina chatter.

As feared, the government carpetbagging shenanigans held in check by the possibility of media coverage are about to play out unopposed.

Yet Michael Bérubé does not sleep - nor does he fail to observe what the somnabulent majority allows to wash over them.

Read Michael's "Disability and Disasters". Follow it with a reality-check chaser of Anne Finger's "Reflections on Hurricane Katrina" , Mary Johnson's " Rebuilding after Katrina: where's the ACCESS?", Candy Harrington's "More on Cruise Ship Evacuee Housing" , Dave Reynold's collection "People With Disabilities Among Hardest Hit By Hurricanes Katrina & Rita" and Frank Browe's manifesto ""Disability Meets The Boom."

Then call me in the morning.

Diversity Partners is one of the sponsors of the Universal Access in Travel Symposium and Expo slated for December 12 -14 in Baltimore. Condsider the following from their web site:

Consider the following facts:

  • There are nearly 54 million people with a long-term disability, who represent 20% of the U.S. population, and considered by the U.S. Government to be the largest minority group in the country.

  • More than 21 million families in the U.S. have at least 1 member with a disability.

  • More than 50% of the U.S. population over 65 has long-term disabilities
    Persons with disabilities have a combined income of nearly $796 billion, estimated to top $1 Trillion by 2006

  • Marketing programs aimed at people with disabilities can reach as many as 4 out of every 10 consumers, with an estimated spending power of over $220 Billion. (US Census Bureau)

interview photo

The Malayasia Star has run a series of articles on Inclusive Travel. Reporter Lee Siew Peng has interviewed travelers with various disabilities, compiled resources, and revealed her own experiences as a no-longer-temporarily-non-disabled person.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Stories of Hurricane Katrina rushed toward the six-weeks-after blackout (when the media summarily stops covering a story like this.) Mary Johnson of Ragged Edge Online and Edge-Centric Blog is perplexed. Where are the stories about the need for Universally Designed infrastructure and Visitable housing in the reconstructed area? Will the 17-member "Bring Back New Orleans Commission" build a livable, accessible city?

As New Orleans Rebuilds

New Orleans Mayor Mayor C. Ray Nagin announced a 17-member commission to advise on the reconstruction of New Orleans. The "Bring Back New Orleans Commission" is approximately 50% black and 50% white - with one Latino member. None have been identified as having disabilities and no member represents the tourism industry. The latter point was raised as a concern by J. Stephen Perry, president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Mr. Perry was among those expressing disappointment that neither he nor any other representative of the tourism industry was being granted a place on the commission, though restaurants, hotels and the entertainment sector account for 81,000 jobs in a city of roughly 450,000, according to data provided by the visitors bureau.

That was heartening news, however, for those locals who had feared that efforts to rebuild New Orleans would emphasize tourism at the expense of its other industries, including shipbuilding, oil and gas, and medical research.

NY Times, New Orleans Forms a Panel on Renewal

Visiting New Dehli? Eat at Nirula's!

Eat at Nirulas!

Aqeel Qureshi an Indian disability and inclusive tourism activist writes, "Changing the environment, persons with disabilities can also help themselves by helping the persons with disabilities." Aqeel was also a participant in the May 2005 International Conference on Accessible Tourism in Taipei, Taiwan.

Read his encouraging note below.