July 2006 Archives

Topong Kulkhanchit of Disabled People's International is a tireless advocate for justice. His travels through Asia are extensive. He was one of tne of the organizers of the 2004 Taipei conference on accessible travel and the 2006 international conference on peace through tourism in Thailand. He is the lead organizer for the 2007 follow-up to the Taipei conference to be held in Phuket, Thailand.

Below Topong circulates an open letter to his colleagues in Vietnam urging adoption of Universal Design, as incorporated in numerous UN and regional documents, in upcoming infrastructure and major public works projects.

Spanish disability groups and the government of Spain have developed new guidelines for the implementattion of Universal Design in transportation infrastructure, buildings, public facilities, and public services. The proposal includes retrofitting construction by the Instituto de la Vivienda (Ivima) to remove architectural barriers. (Article in Spanish.)

Wheelchair Dancer has some new thought-provoking posts up on disability and identity:

Wheelchair Dancer: Transabled- Pretending

Wheelchair Dancer: The (Dis)ability Status Game

An EU Culture of Mobility


Connecting Ability and Disability in AEGEE launched the Bridge project in Wroclaw.The event, "The disabled and the facilitator - a complex relationship", took place on 14-17 April 2005 with the support and participation of a number of people with different disabilities, and disabled people's organisations.

Accessible Sounds


In New Jersey this weekend and looking for a wheelchair accessible park and an outdoor concert? Blues harmonica player James Cotton plays at Duke Island Park this Sunday. There's no indication that the event will be sign language interpretted but you can read, hear, and see video snippets of the process at one of Paul Simon's concerts. The story is at NPR.

Thanks to Darren Hillock at Get Around Guide we have news of accessibility at Loch Lomond

He also picked up a good story about a Boy Scout's good deed and an interview with Jeanne Amendola who was just appointed to the board of the Able Trust.

Temple University's post for the anniversary of the ADA is an extensive review of the voices in the disability community. Reading through reveals one insight after another. Blue, at The Gimp Parade, refers back to a post from June 2005 on the opposite of Universal Design -- exclusion by design in The Excuse of Architecture

Tom Chun, northern Californian, scuba diver, wheeler, and now "International Man of Leisure", checks in from his around the world tour.

Things to do: http://www.space-coast.com/do/
Park w/wheelchair;
Oceanfront Cottages & Homes claims wheelchair accessible properties: http://www.innseekers.com/InnDetails.cfm?ID=29371

Canova Beach & Park - East end of Eau Gallie Causeway, Melbourne

Three dune crossovers with one wheelchair-accessible, restrooms, picnic shelter, grill, outside showers, community building and lifeguards during summer. pavilion reservations (321) 952-4650

Coconut Point Park
, 3535 SR A1A, south of Melbourne Beach.

Two dune crossovers with one wheelchair-accessible, picnic shelter, restrooms, outside showers, surf fishing, surfing and sea turtle nesting site. (321) 952-4650

Candy Harrington at Emerging Horizons is often first to break important stories related to inclusive travel and accessibility. Even when she's not she does an excellent job of digging deeper than most people. Her July 19 post, Air Asia Discriminates?, delves into the latest case of airline industry nosediving on accessibility.

Gerald Ensley, Senior Writer for the Tallahasee Democrat, has a story to tell as a Temporarily Able Bodied person (TAB) who has crossed-over.

Especially interesting to me is Gerald's epiphany while engaging in the subject matter of the Rolling Rains Report -- traveling with a disability:

It was a vivid lesson in how necessary those accommodations must be to people with disabilities - and a reminder that all of us are just an unexpected injury away from needing them ourselves.

On July 7 I mentioned Vasile Stoica's trek and his site. His site is now up -- and looking very good!

Vasi Stoica



Your comments are needed by July 28, 2006 - this is a new extended deadline -- on important proposed changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transportation regulations.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing positive changes that are being very strongly resisted by most public transportation providers. Disability advocates' support is crucial to the outcome. DOT is also seeking comment on other questions of importance to the disability community. Topics in this rulemaking include:

* Should transit agencies be required to make reasonable modifications of policies, practices, and procedures in order to avoid discrimination, such as when providing ADA paratransit to individuals who need assistance beyond the vehicle to reach the facility door?

It appears that some transit agencies have responded to this proposed change by ALREADY stopping service to paratransit riders beyond the vehicle (that is, no assistance to or from the building). If this is true where you live, submit a comment to let DOT know.

Also tell DOT if you or people you know would be unable to use the ADA paratransit service, if this type of assistance was not available.

* Should rail systems provide full platform access?
* Should DOT use a Department-wide coordinated approach to interpreting disability policy questions?
* Should transportation providers that acquire used vehicles be required to make efforts to obtain accessible vehicles?
* Is there a problem with the exclusion of wheelchairs that transportation providers say do not meet the "common wheelchair" description?

Canparaplegia logo

The Canadian Paraplegic Association maintians a helpful website. One portion is a good listing of inclusive travel destinations and services.

Here is a link to a recent piece on van rental in Nova Scotia. Below is the text of a draft Code of Practice developed by the Canadian Transportation Agency dealing with terminal accessibility for persons who travel in Canada by air, rail or ferry. Public comment is requested until July 28.

Spas on Cruises


Anitra Brown has a page over at About.com listing onboard spas available to passengers with disabilities. The ideal would be to see it someday containing examples from every cruise line in existence. In the meantime, she lists those who are with the program at http://spas.about.com/cs/crspasfordisabled/index.htm

Here is a European lodging resource put together by the Swiss Federation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

OZIV (Österreichischer Zivil-Invalidenverband Bundessekretariat) has gathered some useful information here if you are planning to travel in Austria (and can read German.)

"We intend to adapt ourselves every day," explains Ana Montesdeoca director of El Hotel Dorado Beach, en Arguineguín, Canary Islands. With an annual occupancy of 500 vacationers with disabilities and the support of inclusive travel advocates like Spain's Fundación ONCE we can believe that she means what she says.

To which we say, "Muchisimas gracias!"

braille google logo

Travel information became much easier to find with the advent of the web. Google is making it even easier with Google Accessible Search. Leave it to T. V. Rahman to keep pushing digital frontiers for our community!

The war in Iraq is sending home injured soldiers who may represent a future wave of elite disabled athletes. Injured troops are given sports training as soon as possible. The military and medical communities believe sports not only rebuilds confidence, but also pushes injured veterans to re-learn physical skills that war took away from them.
Michelle Hiskey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A quick Google locates stories illustrating the breadth of activity involving travel and recreational activities that this niche is involved in.

Sticks & Wheels


Sticks and Wheels.com tells you aboutthe book of the same name on accessible adventures in British Columbia. The site also had a note about Hidden Grove Legacy in Sandyhook is building an accessible trail to old growth forest.


The summer 2006 IDEA Center E-Newsletter is now available.

This month’s contents include:

· Information and links to the numerous articles, lectures and conferences IDEA Center staff have published and attended
· A report on the National Endowment for the Arts Symposium on the Universal Design Identity Project
· Information on cabin prototypes designed in a University at Buffalo graduate architecture studio
· Opportunities to participate in universal design research
· A link to the Global Universal Design Educators Online News

turismo_para_todos logo

Vera Cruz, Mexico was the site of the 7th National Conference of the Tourism for All Network of Mexico. The reports are here.

Thank sign

"Hail Mary full of grace, help me find a parking space!" goes the old bit of Catholic humor.

This sign, brought to our attention by Penny Richards at Temple University's Disability Studies Blog makes you wonder if being first is all its cracked up to be.

The work of the Latvians who created these signs is discussed at AdverBox. The campaign seems like a compliment to Gimp Eye for the Clueless Guy

If the first sign in the campaign calls to mind a prayer...

Blindpeople: Traveling Alone


The author of Blindpople Blog has a posted a request for tips about travel. Head on over if you have some helpful hints.

To follow other posts at Blindpeople look at the main page here.

Don Norman is a hero to many of us who work in Human Computer Interfaces and design in general. So, it was particularly interesting to find some of his writing had shaded into a topic that is often covered in the Rolling Rains Report -- airplane passenger cabin design.

After recounting an inconvenience in the air with humor he concludes:

Kudos to Lufthansa for wonderful flight attendants, for a marvelous meal and for trying so hard to make seats that truly deliver. If it is the thought that counts, Lufthansa wins. If execution also matters, well, they need to call in the human-centered design experts.



Grasping the seven principles of Universal Design is a first step in expanding inclusive, accessible tourism. A first generation of entrepreneurial specialized travel agencies and tour operators set deep roots for inclusive travel and understanding grew.

Studies such as "From Anxiety to Access" by Simon Darcy and the regular surveys of Eric Lipp's Open Doors Organization were the first to illuminate relationships between travel industry sectors and the market niche that would travel more is Universal Design were adopted by the hospitality and travel industries.


"easy travel"

The Rolling Rains Report has pursued a sequential

"Entrepreneurship has become a consequence of disability discrimination in the workforce," said John D. Kemp, senior vice president of strategic development for New York City-based HalfthePlanet.com. "Starting your own business is a very viable alternative for people with disabilities. It fits well with the whole notion of turning your third bedroom into a small business."


The Abilities Fund is the first and only natiowide community developer targeted exclusively to advancing entrpreneurial opportunnities for Americans with disabilities. Services of the Abilities Fund are designed specifically for individuals with disabilities interested in business ownership and the organizations that serve them. Thier focus includes:

-Entrepreneurs with disabilities
-Microenterprise development organizations
-Vocational rehabilitation agencies and other disability-related organizations

Being There in Bamako, Mali


Boots n All Travel askes the question, " Why go to Bamako, Mali?"

Their answer:

* Find anything you want at the Grand Marché Market
* Take a camel ride to Timbuktu
* Ride the river down the Niger
* Hike to cliff dwellings
* Spend the night in a desert camp under the stars after a long camel ride
* Check out the Djenne mosque made out of mud bricks
* Explore the desert in west Africa
* Go where the tourist track doesn't


Go ahead. Make his day! Visit Cebu on Wheels and see what he has to offer.

Big Bog



FreeWheeling Info


If you have not yet discoverd the blog at Freewheeling.info you ought to give it a try. Here is a post with some insights on travel in Europe. There is plenty more on the site worth exploring. Take a look.

Truckee, California is worth visiting on its own. It is also home to Candace Cable a nine-time gold medal winner in winter and summer Paralympic competition.

Looking for a motivational speaker? See her site or these news items.

The North Tahoe-Truckee area is home to many extreme athletes who are disabled, including Mark Wellman, who was the first paraplegic to climb El Capitan and the only paraplegic to climb Half Dome.

Those who followed my recent road trip from peak to peak through the Cascade mountain range know that I have an appreciation for natural beauty. A cruise down the Inside Passage from Alaska in 2004 provided day after day of such beauty but held a partiicularly unexpected pleasure -- getting to know tour guide Terry Breen.

It was immediately obvious to my wife and I from the first time Terry came on the ship's loudspeaker narrating a portion of the cruise that we were listening to someone of intelligence, wit, and experience. Meeting her in persn and corresponding with her over the years confirmed that first impression.

You can meet her too at Terry Breen's Cruiser Friendly Blog

Vasile Stoica is on the Move!


Vasile Stoica is on his way to somewhere I'd like to visit -- Finisterra, Galicia. the difference is, he's going by land - by wheelchair actually - from his home country of Romania!

Once he gets his site going too you can follow his progress at www.govasigo.ro

Stoica, 36, is the holder of a Guiness Book record for the longest distance in a wheelchair in a day - 128 kilometers. He is also the first to have crossed the U.S. from Los Angeles to Chicago in a wheel chair on the famous Route 66.

Suffering from a congenital paraplegia, Stoica, who was born in a poor family with seven children, underwent thirteen surgical operations before he was seven, but his condition didn't change. "I am a normal person and I have no problem with being in a wheel chair except that there are not many facilities for people like us in Romania like they do in other countries," Stoica said on Friday, adding that one of his goals is to raise people's awareness towards handicapped persons.


"Free2Pee" - Part II ?


This post from the DS-HUM Listserve:

I'm trying to get word out on a new site I've set up called Worldwide Accessible Washrooms. I'm hoping this page will become a comprehensive list of wheelchair accessible washrooms throughout the world. I came up with the idea on a recent trip to Europe, originally just taking notes for myself, but then thinking that the info could be useful to other travellers or inhabitants of different areas. Please check out http://ca.geocities.com/mcsting@rogers.com/index.html and email me with any additions you may be aware of in your area or in places you have travelled to. There's not much on it now, only some listed in a few cities in Italy and Canada. Hopefully it will grow soon with your help. I'd appreciate any input you can give me. Thanks a lot!



The publication of the special forum on travel, disability, and Universal Design in the Review of Disability Studies marks the first sustained look at travel and tourism through the lens of Disability Studies. Below is an abstract of the lead article, "Toward a Global History of Inclusive Travel." The entire work is available the Review of Disability Studies.

With the project of a global chronicle of the development of inclusive travel underway through the work of Laurel Van Horn and José Isola I invite Rolling Rains Readers to submit comments, updates, and contributions of their own.

"While the history of accessible travel and tourism is intertwined with the disability rights and independent living movements, sharing their triumphs and setbacks, it has its own landmark events, advocacy organizations, heroes and villains." So begins the first article of volume 2, number 2 of the journal Review of Disability Studies.

The piece is entitled, "Toward a Global History of Inclusive Travel", by Laurel Van Horn, M.A. of the Open Doors Organization and by José Isola, President of the Peruvian Polio Society. In my opinion, one of the landmark events in the progress of inclusive travel is RDS' decision to publish this volume. I am proud to have had the opportunity to edit it - and moreso to have been associated with the scholars whose work is the heart of this issue of the Review of Disability Studies.

Congratulations to those who researched, wrote (and rewrote) for this first examination of travel, disability, and Universal Design from within the field of Disability Studies!

The Multiplier Effect


The Alviso Marina on the San Francisco Bay Trail system is not the perfect example of outdoor accessibility. Gaps in planning could be pointed out. What is noteworthy is the way that development was strategically implemented to leverage maximum impact.

By starting with a small municipally funded improvement project, regional and finally federal monies were secured to add something valuable to Alviso, California with tangible benefit to the entire Bay Trail system.

For those who read German, Christianne Link in her Behindertenparkplatz Blog asks an important question, "Wie barrierefrei ist unser Hotel?" - "How barrierfree is our hotel?" For those who would rather follow using Katya Stokeley's translation at Broken Clay Journal try here.

It is always a pleasure to share stories of excellent customer service!

Patient-Consumer Parade


The Patient-Consumer Parade published a blog carnival on the topic, "Why must we be ‘patient’? The blog is here and worth reading if you are not yet a regular there.

Penny Richards rightly points out on the Disability Studies blog at Temple University that the Rolling Rains post selected for honorable mention, Lithia Park Provides Wildlife Adventures, is a stretch. Then she offers an important observation in the form of a question about the carnival:

This is planned as a weekly event, so submit your "best writing about being a medical patient or healthcare consumer." The criteria must be fairly broad: for example, I'm not really sure how Scott Rains' travelogue at Oregon's Lithia Park counts as a "patient" experience (using a wheelchair, by itself, doesn't give you permanent and constant patient status, right?)

Excellent critique, Penny. Thank you for engaging the question! Constant vigilance for "medicalization" of disability is a key survival skill for anyone with a disability.

As an optic, vigilant monitoring for the inappropriate medical/patient power dynamic cuts to the heart of many problematic public, non-medical social interactions. Sometimes thoroughly understanding and explaining the classic distinction between "handicap" and "disability" is enough. Observing that pseudo-medicalized social relations is a likely cross-cultural power dynamic has made international travel easier on various Rolling Rains trips. The point at which it becomes possible to expose the fallacy of wheelchair users having "permanent and constant patient status" is always a point at which I introduce the concept of Universal Design.

The beauty of that intellectual dance step is that Universal Design embodies, in concrete fashion, the heritage of pan-disability culture.

The UD concept grew parallel to - and out of the same value base as - the disability rights legislative thrust that gave US citizens section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act (where the spinal cord injury community, to take one example, learned decisively that it was a major consumer powerhouse) and eventually the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Blogmaster Trapier clarified that

To answer your question, you're absolutely correct; using a wheelchair doesn't necessarily make you a "patient". But it does make you a healthcare "consumer," just as using a car makes you an automobile consumer or riding a plane makes you an airline consumer.

The purpose of the Patient-Consumer Parade, then, is to bring people together who 1) think of themselves as purely "patients," 2) consider themselves healthcare "consumers," and 3) are someplace in between!

Disability Studies, Temple U.: A Parade, and a Podcast

access dinghies logo
"Sailing for Everyone" is the kind of motto that is only possible when folks like Access Dinghies and Socio Engineering Research institute get together.

You can find the seven priciples of Universal Design applied to sailing at Access Dinghies.


northern british columbia

Northern Health Connections provides transportation to medical services. Their territory, northern British Columbia, covers 600,000 square kilometers and includes 300,000 people. What is particularly farsighted about the assisted travel program that they will launch this month is the extent to which they have made their busses accessible.

The service will have custom-fitted coaches and buses. All of the new vehicles will be wheelchair accessible. Highway coaches will also have wheelchair accessible washrooms, a first in North America.

This region is a beautiful part of Canada. Integrating Universal Design into the regional healthcare system will be a boon to residents -- permanent as well as summer -- and provides a powerful impetus to the local travel & hospitality industry to become inclusive.

Something You Already Knew


Universal Design and barrier free homes used to be reserved for senior housing and nursing homes, but now it's the design trend for the future.
So says NBC News in Madison, Wisconsin.

It's the right design trend for hotels, motels, and cruise ships too.

The Rolling Rains Report occassionally has taken up the topic of clothing and accessories in the context of travel but Wheelchair Dancer has a more thorough discussion in which she muses on Universal Design in fashion as well.

Notice also her travelogue on a Wonderful 4th of July Trip.

Social inclusion, adventure travel, agroturism, an ecoturism all converge in the tourism economy of Brazil. Below is a report (in Portuguese) on the maturation of this trend.

Bollywood Travels?


If you are a Bollywood movie buff planning on a pilgrinamge to Mumbaia (Bombay) Lonely Planet has this advice:

Disabled Travellers

Mumbai's crowded public transport, crush of people and variable infrastructure can test even the hardiest traveller. If you have a physical disability or you are vision impaired, these pose even more of a challenge. However, seeing the way the mobility-impaired locals whizz through city traffic in modified bicycles proves that nothing is impossible

Artists in Residence

Meet J. L. Chuites, leather sculptor and teacher of the leather arts. j l chiutes

Intimate Apparel, The Winter's Tale, and The Importance of Being Earnest were the productions that drew me to Ashland, Oregon and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival - theater (& accessibility) tales for another post.

Surprise and paradox abound in Ahsland. Beyond the bear who frequents Lithia Park (who I did not meet) I encountered a deer -- who seemed to be watching the Wendy's longingly from the bushes one morning at breakfast time. But the unique ecosystem of Ashland is the performing arts and artisan class.

From an announcement forwarded via Disabled Peoples’ International Asia Pacific Region:

EU boost for disabled travellers
By Alexia Saoulli

CYPRIOT disabled organisations yesterday welcomed EU legislation that will protect wheelchair users from discrimination when travelling by air.

The regulation was adopted by Transport Ministers in Luxembourg on June 9 in an effort to end daily discrimination against disabled passengers by airports and airlines.

“This move is an important step, because all airports and airlines will be forced to adhere to obligations regarding disabled travellers, instead of it being up to the sensitivity of each country,” said Dimitris Lambrianides, president of the Cyprus Paraplegics’ Association.


From the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Box Office, safely above Lithia Park, the ticket sellers attend to playgoers sometimes offering friendly advice, "Watch out for the bear in Lithia Park."

The first time I was here - recently sprung from the hospital by my best friends from high school - the strategy for deterring overnight camping in the creekside park was signs. Now they seem to have turned over enforcement to the forces of nature!

We saw no bears. Then again, we did stop meandering the trails of Lithia Park before curfew having experienced the terrifyingly convincing bear growl during the death of Camillo during the matinee performance of "A Winter's Tale" in the Angus Bowman Theater. I wonder where they got that recording?

Mt St Helens Recovery


The drive to and up Mt St Helens offers quite a vista. It is a reminder of the awesome power of a volcano to see "matchsticks" laid out like a repeating pattern on the slopes only to discover up close that they are age-bleached trees - some twice as big around as telephone poles - blown down by the blast.

After a long drive to Ashland, Oregon for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival lodging is the first order of business -- quickly followed by food.

Don't expect to just drop in here during the festival and easily find lodging. Plan ahead. Making plans I chose the Windmill Inns because of the 110% service motto (and because I procrastinated reserving an room at one of the few bed & breakfasts with wheelchair-friendly rooms.)

When it comes to dining in Ashland Duane seems to be the man to know. See his site Duane's Ashland Restaurant Review

Along the Columbia River Gorge there are plenty of interesting and challenging site for rock climbing. What I didn't expect was that the same techniques would prove useful trying to climb into bed at the Red Lion Inn in Portland.

red lion inn -gymnastics

Captivated by the "shoulder-height-bed" craz,e Red Lion on the River is not recommended for folks of short stature, those with difficuty climbing or wheelchair users traveling alone.