January 2008 Archives

Human-Centered Design Metaphors?

I appreciate what James David is writing on design over at The Groundswell Blog. Today he looks at the post The Revolution Will Not Be Designed by Alix Rule in his post Designing the Revolution.

Social justice inherently seeks systemic change to redress oppression. Rule’s objection to design thinking is that it serves as a”post-ideology” ideology, one which is stripped of considerations for “the long process by which consensus is built—a.k.a. politics.” Her case is that:

In particular, design metaphors obscure the ideological—and political—decisions involved in tackling societal issues. Depending on your perspective, “drunk driving” can be a symptom of some broader systemic failure (from un-walkable suburbs to deficient public education), a lapse of individual responsibility, or a right to be defended. The solution to the problem is inseparable from its conception. Conceiving of global ills as design challenges may sometimes be in order, but only when a consensus exists on goals, budgets and relevant values. Such is rarely the case.

Bluetooth as an Aid to Walking?

From the "What Will They Think of Next?" file comes this report at CNN on the use of Bluetooth technology as a substitute for the human nervous system. In effect, the technology that brings you hands-free cell phones frees a man without legs to walk. Here Joshua Bleill describes how his prosthetic legs work:

Bleill's set of prosthetics have Bluetooth receivers strapped to the ankle area. The Bluetooth device on each leg tells the other leg what it's doing, how it's moving, whether walking, standing or climbing steps, for example.

"They mimic each other, so for stride length, for amount of force coming up, going uphill, downhill and such, they can vary speed and then to stop them again," Bleill told CNN from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he's undergoing rehab.

"I will put resistance with my own thigh muscles to slow them down, so I can stop walking, which is always nice."

Hmmm, what do you get if you hit "redial" while you are asleep -- sleepwalking?

Malaga - Plan de Accesibilidad (Spanish)

Desde - www.malagaes.com 29/01/2008

El Alcalde de Málaga, Francisco de la Torre, ha presentado hoy el Plan estratégico de Accesibilidad Universal de la ciudad de Málaga 2007-2011. Este documento es una propuesta integral que ofrece una solución a los problemas que las personas con discapacidad puedan tener en Málaga. En él se articulan medidas concretas que resuelven todas y cada una de las facetas de la vida privada y social, no solamente para las personas con discapacidad, sino para el resto de ciudadanos malagueños que puntualmente pueden tener reducida su movilidad.

Around the World on a Skateboard!

Beth Haller has a blog called Media dis&dat. She has done a post on Kevin Connolly. Kevin traveled around the world on his skateboard. That's unique enough but Kevin was born without legs -- and he took along his camera to document people staring at him. From her site:

Connolly took 32,000 photos and has created an online exhibit, called The Rolling Exhibition at http://therollingexhibition.com/. It's a wonderful exhibit, which allows the viewer to see the world from a unique perspective. Many of the images are visually stunning because of the upward angle that captures aspects of the scene that one usually doesn't experience. I know its theme is the staring but the composition and subjects on the street make many of the images pure artistry. If this is any indication of his documentary abilities, I will be there to buy tickets to his first film.


Sandy Dhuyvetter's Travel Talk Radio

Ii was just on Sandy Dhuyvetter's Travel Talk Radio. It's always great to talk to Sandy.

Three empty wheelchairs beside a glacial lake

As a wrap-up question she asked about positive trends in the industry. Let me highlight five suppliers who represent what is up-and-coming in Inclusive Travel -- accessible yacht rentals and critical mass in Mexico and in the deaf travel market:

Rent Yachts and Take Small Ship Tours:

Sherri Backstrom
Waypoint Charter Services
1 888 491-2949

Visit Mexico as a Traveler with a Disability or on Fam as a Travel Agent:

Judith Cardenas
Cancun Accesible
Cancun Accesible (notice only one "s)
Teléfono +52 (998) 883 1978
Skype: Cancún.accesible

Adriana Ramirez
Mexico Accesible
http://www.accesiblemexico.com/ (notice only one "s")

Meet the Deaf Travel Market:

Maria Gilda L. Quintua
M.G.L.Q. Deaf Tour Assistance, Philippines
Text: +639108392799

Tabitha and MacPartlow
Passages Deaf Travel
Office: (757) 599-9181 Voice / TDD

Entries for WeCare Filmfest 2008

filmfestival logo

The following Call for Entries was sent to the Rolling Rains Report:

Dear all concerned,

This is to inform you that last date for submission of films and documentaries is FEBRUARY 9, 2008. If still you are interested in sending the entries for the above WECARE FILMFEST, please send them on or before the LAST DATE.

We have received a large number of films and documentaries from various countries including India on various issues of disabilities.



Sincerely yours
email: wecarefilmfest@gmail.com
website : www.wecarefilmfest.org

Americans with disabilities spend more than $13.6 billion annually on travel. The Open Doors Organization calculated that in 2003, persons with disabilities or reduced mobility spent 35 billion dollars in restaurants. According to the same study, more than 75% of these people eat out at restaurants at least once a week. But Karen at A Deaf Mom Shares Her World tells a story that gives these mind-numbing numbers some texture and reality.

Can it really that be that hard to spend our money? Maybe the misguided narratives about "plucky" super-crips "overcoming" their disabilities and achieving heroic feats that inspire TABs (look it up) have some validity. Buying a milkshake and completing the transaction with dignity intact rates high on the heroic achievement scale in this story of an encounter with Steak 'n Shake -- but her equanimity to the bile evident in the public comments about her post is where Karen's true strength of character is revealed. Insult added to injury:

So I told him about the Americans with Disabilities Act and I explained that taking orders through the window is an accommodation that I need because I can't use the speaker to place an order.

He kept insisting that orders need to be taken at the speaker. "If you had just let me know at the speaker that you needed accommodations then I could take your order through the window."

"But I'm DEAF! I can't hear on the speaker! When I drove up, the first thing that I told you was that I couldn't order back there because I can't hear through the speaker."

Read about her descent down Alice's Rabbit Hole here at Steak and Shake Denies Service

Press release:
ASTA logo

ASTA, [the American Society of Travel Agents] filed comments today with the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the issue of Oversales and Denied Boarding Compensation. ASTA provided the DOT with numerous recommendations for updating the more than 20-year old rules that currently govern the process of Denied Boarding Compensation practices.

“This is unfortunately an issue that affects most passengers at one time or another,” said Cheryl Hudak, CTC, ASTA president and CEO. “ASTA’s recommendations, if implemented, would reduce the number of instances in which airline passengers are involuntarily bumped and, in the event that an airline is forced to bump a passenger, create a more stable and acceptable process for doing so.”

In its comments, ASTA:

The European Union brings together a diversity of languages, cultures, and political jurisdictions. It probably comes as no surprise then to learn that the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) discovered 40 different sets of accessibility standards among its members.

Work to synthesize or even correlate such variety is time consuming and charged with political conundrums. One project undertaken by OSSATE makes a start at correlation. You may download the report here. Download file

Convidamos V.Sas. para participar da Reunião de Análise da Consulta Nacional do Projeto 00:001.64-001 - Transporte - Especificações técnicas para fabricação de veículos de características urbanas para transporte coletivo de passageiros, da ABNT/CEE-00: 001.64 - Comissão de Estudo Especial Temporária de Fabricação de Veículo Acessível, a ser realizada conforme programação a seguir:

Data: 11 e 12 de fevereiro de 2008

Horário: das 9:00 às 17:00

Local: Av. Paulista, 726 - 10º andar - São Paulo - SP

Pauta: - Projeto 00:001.64-001 - Transporte - Especificações técnicas para fabricação de veículos de características urbanas para transporte coletivo de passageiros - Análise da Consulta Nacional

Perusing the Bellingham Herald I found:

Greek Island sailing

Waypoint books custom charters to explore waterways around the world — including the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the canals of Europe. An independent charter broker representing thousands of luxury vessels worldwide, Waypoint has begun brokering handicapped-accessible charters in part due to company owner Sherri Backstrom’s own physical challenges.

A lifelong sailor and yachting enthusiast who has been diagnosed with a neurological disease, Backstrom started her company with the mission of helping people of all ability levels travel the world’s waterways.

To learn more about Waypoint Charter’s broker services for yacht and sailboat vacations, go to www.waypointcharter.com or call the Waypoint office at 656-5934.

John Macdonald describes himself as engaging in "the great Canadian indoor pastime of dreaming about warmer locations " in his piece, Daydreams of Warmer Places.

In a bit of algorithmic creativity that could have come straight from the chalkboards of Numb3rs
he offers:

A (attitude of staff) x B (building amenities) = C (customer satisfaction)

See his whole article here:


A nova lei, com data de 23 de janeiro, foi publicada no Diário Oficial de hoje, quinta-feira, 24.

Depois da transformação visual da nossa cidade, incentivado pelo Programa Cidade Limpa, agora são as calçadas que vão fazer a diferença. Além da estética, o mais importante é a acessibilidade. Se já é difícil circular na maioria dos passeios públicos de São Paulo, imagine para quem tem uma deficiência ou mobilidade reduzida - como idosos, mães com carrinhos de bebê, obesos ou pessoas com uma perna quebrada, por exemplo?

Kudos to Travel Age West Magazine!

It is always encouraging to see the mainstream travel press pick up stories on Inclusive Tourism as with this TravelAgeWest piece. It is especially satisfying when experts with the credibility of Ron Pettit with Royal Caribbean Cruises can talk about historic breakthroughs in best practices and Candy Harrington's insights are featured. For an excellent piece on our community as travelers read J. L. Erickson's full article

Nearly 4,000 cruisers hit the decks and staterooms of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas this fall for an eight-day cruise from Miami with ports of call including the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. But there was something different about this cruise: The entire ship was chartered for individuals with hearing impairments for a jaunt dubbed “The Deaf Freedom Cruise 2007,” led by Virginia-based specialty travel agency Passages Deaf Travel.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Ron Pettit, access manager, trade support and services, with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “I mean, think about it, we had a ship filled with more than 3,600 passengers with special hearing needs. It was a major thrill to do it.”

Airlines to Seniors: Drop Dead

Response to poor service by airlines has nurtured reaction from senior travelers as well. This is from Ed Perkin's piece at Smarter Travel, "Airlines to seniors: Drop dead":

What happened to airline loyalty programs?

The big airlines have also treated seniors shabbily through their frequent flyer programs. To be sure, the airlines kept showering you with miles during the year, and especially with miles you earned other than by flying—on your credit cards, as bonuses for various purchases, and such. But what they gave you with one hand, they more than took away with the other:

* All the big lines other than Northwest now cancel your accumulated miles if you don't show account activity within the most recent 18 to 24 months. And, this year, many of them revised the fine print to permit unilateral changes in program rules with only a 30-day notice.
* Continental and Delta tightened up on award rules, hiking the mileage requirements for some awards (Continental) or no longer allowing travelers to book any available seat for double to triple the usual miles (Delta).
* All the lines have been making it increasingly difficult to find frequent flyer seats at the base award levels, especially on the more popular vacation routes. And, in my experience, upgrades and premium-class award seats are almost impossible to score without paying double to triple the base number of miles.
* Several lines have hiked the various fees they charge when you try to book a "free" seat, including charges for bookings made fewer than 20 days in advance, charges for refunding miles for unused tickets, and charges for phone bookings.

Seniors are apt to be especially vulnerable to frequent flyer devaluations. Many earn miles more slowly than the average frequent flyers. Many prefer to use miles for long trips to popular destinations. Many prefer—even need—the extra space and comfort of business- or first-class seats. And many have to save miles over a period of up to three years to accumulate enough for those purposes.

Full article:

Sony Radio Academy Awards logo

Insight Radio is "Europe's First Radio Station for Blind and Partially Sighted Listeners" and they have a travel section:

Simon Pauley chats with Amar Latif from Traveleyes and Kirsty Major about a recent Traveleyes trip to Canada

Presenter Simon Pauley chatted with Hannah Williams about some of the holidays the charity organise for blind and partially sighted people.

What is it like to fly the "no frills" Skybus airlines?


Well, I don't know yet. (I haven't had much cause to want to go to Columbus, Ohio recently). Their web site sounds like they know how to follow the Air Carriers Act however.

One wonders if their system of allow passengers to explain their travel needs only through an online interface is sufficient. I have found no other airline that allows appropriate specificity of information that can be left in one's customer profile or included when purchasing a ticket.

A Câmara e a Provedoria Municipal das Pessoas com Deficiência da Lousã anunciaram ontem a apresentação, para breve, do plano de acção do projecto "Lousã: destino turístico acessível". Em causa está um projecto pioneiro em Portugal, que já mereceu rasgados elogios

Fernando Carvalho, presidente da autarquia, salientou o investimento efectuado no sector do turismo nos últimos anos, em especial na oferta de alojamento, referindo que «agora queremos agregar o turismo acessível para todos». «Pretendemos deixar de ter barreiras para aqueles com algumas dificuldades», acrescentou o autarca socialista, que anunciou para este ano alguns investimentos nesta área na apresentação do projecto.

Interview with Scott Rains on Xable.com

Here is a link to a conversation I had with Elio Navarro of Xable.com on Inclusive Tourism:


I have been calling it "the distinction between and sterile and style." Rita St. Clair of the Chicago Daily Herald sets it out at, "No need to choose between attractiveness and accessibility" in this brief nod to Universal Design.

Engineer, NITK's Technical Symposium will be held Feb 14 - 17, 2008. The subject of their "Last Word" discussion will be social responsibility. You will be ale to follow events through their blog. Will Universal Design be one of the approaches advocated?

The term “Social Responsibility” in the topic needs to be put in perspective first. It refers to the social relevance of various innovations and contributions of engineers to the nation. The topic, as professionals, are we giving back to the country, whatever we take from her? Are we doing enough to help the nation? This has been thrashed enough in many debates. Perhaps we should move beyond that to ask: If I’m an engineer, do I use entrepreneurial approaches to development / social innovation for my profit or to fulfill my social obligations? From a different viewpoint, even if we actually want to be “socially responsible” and contribute to the nation, how could we go about doing that? More significantly, is ensuring the social relevance of our actions a moral duty or just a little thing we do not need to bother about? Assuming that the need of social relevance is established, what should be driving our actions: Economic Imperative or Moral Imperative?

The following recommendations are the result of the CAT 2007 Conference held at UNESCAP in Bangkok, November 22-24, 2007.

- A write-up based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
- C. Mahesh

The process of drafting and adopting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the member countries of the United Nations has now brought the issues of discrimination and exclusion faced by persons with disabilities to centre stage.

The universal definition and understanding of Disability has rightfully moved from being a merely 'Medical' to a 'Human Rights' framework and heralded a paradigm shift from 'charity' to 'rights based' approach.

Prasad Phanasgaonkar of Mumbai runs a car rental agency. He also has Muscular Dystrophy. They built this lift-equipped van.

Check out their web site at http://www.samarthatravels.com/

I am extremely pleased at recent events in Rio de Janeiro toward inclusion in the tourist sector:

* Brazil will train 200 people with disabilities in tourism and
hospitality in order to meet the demand for improved service to
travelers with disabilities.

* Rio de Janeiro has contracted with the French organization Tourisme &
to do infrastructure audits and upgrades. They claim to have
standardized on EU protocols.

* Brazil has also launched an inclusive Destination Development campaign
of upgrading the accessibility of public restrooms

Consultation with the Brazilian disability community and those who monitor access and audit tourist destinations does not seem to have taken place beforehand. As a result the French contractor has presented their proprietary standards as EU standards (there are 40 legitimate standards in the EU and we all work diligently toward harmonization under the leadership of ENAT) and some accessibility claims are a bit exaggerated:

Through this visit [of Tourisme et Handicap] it was possible to verify that the situation is better than we imagined. Christ the Redeemer (Corcovado) and Sugar Loaf, for example, need only small adaptations to be totally accessible. The agency left with is the European Union norms that are going to guide the work, said the sub secretary who pointed to the Hotel Sofitel in Copacabana as ideal in terms of accessibility for people with physical disabilities.

In all, the trend is positive. After consultation with the Brazilian disability community results could be excellent.

Announcing Easy Access Chicago


What: Please join us for a press conference announcing the release of Easy Access Chicago, the first-ever comprehensive visitor guide for travelers with disabilities.

The Easy Access Chicago guide provides detailed information about the city’s accessible offerings allowing visitors with disabilities to make informed choices about their travel experience in the Chicago Area. A copy of Easy Access Chicago is available by calling the Illinois Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2CONNECT or by visiting www.enjoyillinois.com or easyaccesschicago.org.

Who: Eric Lipp, executive director of the Open Doors Organization, Jack Lavin, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Karen Tamley, commissioner of the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and Marca Bristo, president and CEO of Access Living invite you to this historic occasion

When: Thursday, January 17, 2007, 10:00 a.m.

Where: Wrigley Gallery at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street

RSVP: If you have any questions regarding the Easy Access Chicago event or to RSVP, please contact Eric Lipp at ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org. We look forward to seeing you at this important event.


Eric Lipp
Executive Director
Open Doors Organization


Jet Airways enters the spotlight as another company with a Stone Age customer service policy in an era of jet-set technology. Once again the morally bankrupt policy of discrimination causes severe damage to an airline's public image (and thus profitability). Note that the airline's apology specifies that "allowing" Ms. Jindal to fly is an aberration from their standard of discrimination but only "in her case."

Let's examine the case: She cannot walk. She cannot stand. The airline does not provide even the basic cabin equipment such as an aisle chair. Her husband had to drag her to her seat (which, presumably, did not have a movable armrest.) Her net worth is $1 billion dollars.

Take away: With a net worth greater than some small countries you too can be humiliated by Jet Airways while they are allowed to continue discriminatory practices. Perhaps not if Ms. Jindal's important complaint is dealt with justly by the DGCA - http://www.svayam.com/?q=node/411. The DGCA notice to Jet Airways on their practices of discrimination: Download file

She may be fit enough to run a $1 billion business empire, but Jet Airways found the wheel chair ridden Jindal family scion Sminu so unsafe to fly that it asked her recently to either sign an indemnity bond or deplane. The incident — which again highlights airlines’ apathetic attitude towards physically-challenged passengers — happened when 34-year-old Sminu Jindal, who heads Jindal Saw, was travelling from Delhi to Bangkok on Christmas with her husband Indresh Batra on Jet’s business class.

The Ordeal of Air Travel

Documentation of the rollback on service to air travelers with disabilities continues. This from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Plane travel can be frustrating for anyone, with the inevitable delays and cramped conditions. For anyone with a disability, you can double that frustration and times it by 10. The full extent of disabled passengers' frustration with airline services was revealed in a report last month released by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre.

Of 110 disabled people and carers surveyed about domestic air travel, only 14 found their experience positive. One man had his wheelchair badly damaged by baggage handlers, another wheelchair-bound passenger was forced to pay for a carer and then questioned extensively by staff about toilet needs - even though it was only a one-hour flight. Another passenger was refused boarding because his wheelchair was too large. No wonder that one woman, whose husband is a quadriplegic, simply described flying as an "ordeal".

A prefeitura do Rio pretende contratar empresa especializada em formação profissional para treinar 200 pessoas com deficiência física para atuar na área de turismo. O edital da licitação foi publicado no Diário Oficial nesta segunda-feira (14), segundo a Secretaria especial de Turismo.

O subsecretário de Turismo, Paulo Barros, explicou que, em muitas oportunidades, uma empresa pretende contratar um profissional com deficiência, mas não encontra candidatos com o treinamento necessário. Ele acredita que a demanda é grande nas empresas turísticas e em hotéis da cidade, seja para melhor atender aos clientes deficientes ou mesmo para cumprir a legislação que determina a obrigatoriedade de 2 a 5% de funcionários com deficiência em firmas com mais de 100 empregados.

"Essa medida ajuda a criar uma cultura favorável ao atendimento às pessoas com deficiência. Um profissional com formação adequada que seja deficiente atende melhor ao cliente que está na mesma situação. No 1º semestre, a intenção é que o curso treine 200 pessoas. Mas o número pode aumentar no 2º semestre de 2008", declarou Barros.

Kango.com is a travel site that is still in private beta but offers some well thought out features. Some of the initial reviews are positive:

Tim from Business of Online Travel talks about how Kango is the natural evolution of meta-search to solve the problem of too much information – Kayak aggregates price, Travelzoo aggregates deal and Kango aggregates content, reviews and travel information,”(Kango) takes all of the unstructured data out there from web based sources (TripAdvisor, Travelpost, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc) and combines it into a structured data result…into a contextual summary”.


But what tells me that they really understand industry trends and consumer needs is when I see them bring in experienced Inclusive Travel advocates like Craig Grimes of Accessible Barcelona and Accessible Nicaragua. See his piece at Disability Travel, Part I: Plan Accessible Trips

Travel Professionals of Color Conference

TPOC logo

Travel markets crossover and overlap. In some cases discussions of multiculturalism include disability cultures. While this conference does not seem to use the more inclusive definition it certainly addresses an important market in a focused way:

Travel&Tourism Suppliers who have an interest in reaching the growing Minority travel market can do so by displaying their products at the Travel Professionals of Color 6th annual trade show and conference being held in New Orleans, La., April 28, 2008.

Human Rights Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Disability Discrimination, Graeme Innes AM, today welcomed the release of the draft report on the review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.

The report was released by the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese and the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland along with an invitation for interested stakeholders to provide comments by the end of March.

“This draft report provides us with valuable information on the effect of the Transport Standard since it was introduced in 2002 and the degree to which the aim of significantly improving access to public transport has been realised,” said Commissioner Innes.

“It is clear that while some areas of public transport have seen significant improvements in overall accessibility for people with a disability in some areas, such as air travel, the general level of accessibility may have actually declined.

A draft report into disability access on public transport has found that standards might have actually declined in some areas.

The report is part of the five-year review of the Federal Government's Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport, which came into force in 2002.

The draft makes nine recommendations, including that the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) should have the power to refer breaches of the standards directly to the Federal Court.

The commissioner, Graeme Innes, says there are still significant challenges for disabled passengers, particularly in air travel.

"Some of that relates to customer service issues, and ... aircraft infrastructure issues where companies just aren't ordering or configuring aircraft which would be suitable for people with disabilities," he said.

CTV reports on a recent ruling in Canada:

Canada's major air carriers have been ordered to offer disabled travellers the same fares as everyone else.

Under a Canadian Transportation Agency ruling, travellers who need additional seating because of their disabilities will no longer have to pay more than a single fare for domestic flights.

While the report is informative the free-for-all in the discussion and comments following is very revealing of real attitudes toward disability. See Airlines ordered to drop extra fares for disabled

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities / Conseil des Canadiens avec Deficiences send the following press release:

Reaction to Landmark Canadian Transportation Agency Decision:
Disabled Canadians Jubilant to Have Transport Barrier Remove

Winnipeg, January 10, 2008 – Today the Canadian Transportation Agency
(CTA) released a landmark decision concerning the right of individuals with
disabilities to travel by air without having to pay for a second seat, for
an attendant or other use, to accommodate their disability.
In a historic
decision in the “One Person, One Fare” case, the agency has recognized the
right of these individuals to have access to a second seat when traveling
by air in Canada without having to pay a second fare.

“Canadians with disabilities are celebrating today,” said Pat Danforth,
Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities Transportation
Committee. Joanne Neubauer, one of the principal complainants in the
case, agreed. “We hope that this decision sends a strong message to all
transportation carriers,” she said. “Access is the rule.”

Grace Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General impressed us with her grasp of the current state and future needs of Inclusive Tourism with her opening remarks at the ADA Business
Connection Leadership meeting.

Accessible Cruise Question

It is a pleasure to see USA Today giving prominence to questions about Inclusive Tourism. Once again Linda Burbank tackles a timely question with a well-researched answer. The problem remains the failure of the industry to adopt Universal Design. On cruise ships the limits of space mean that we will need to think very creatively and not just "throw square footage" at the problem.

After some conversations at this year's SATH Congress, where I am at the moment, I am intrigued by hints of upcoming improvements in ship design for our market. Meanwhile, here is the question Linda addressed:

The Adversity of Knowledge

Several colleagues have recently commented about the uncritical adoption of an ethos of competitiveness in the travel industry - which is by its nature a people-centered enterprise. Excesses in the airlines industry reported here as violating the civil rights of travelers with disabilities are only one manifestation of an imbalance. Below is one reflection on the limits to competition as paradigm. Let me start with its conclusion:

Knowledge itself often does better in a collaborative environment than in a competitive one. Debates with a winner and loser are usually not very productive or conducive to genuine learning. Collaborative environments that embrace many points of view, especially where those views are in perpetual conversation with one another, overall are richer in what they know and what they understand. Within them, knowledge can be what it is and not what the dominant side would like it to be. Knowledge finds its integrity in the perpetual conversation where it is in play.

From here in Orlando at the SATH 2008 Congress by Jani Nayar:

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH) (www.sath.org) -- whose mission is to raise awareness of the needs of all travelers with disabilities and expand travel opportunities in the United States and worldwide -- has presented its Access to Freedom award to Roy. E. Flora, Chief Operating Officer of Atlanta, GA- based US Franchise Systems, Inc. (USFS) (www.usfsi.com), parent company of the franchisor of the Microtel Inns & Suites and Hawthorn Suites hotel brands. The honor was presented late yesterday at the 12th annual SATH World Congress in Orlando, FL.

Reprinted from 2005:

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - or ends with one.

It seems merely simple wisdom but turning it into a business model that is transforming the hotel industry required uncommon insight.

Ángel Luis Tadeo is a man who knows that a single step--or a single curb, raised threshold, or a doorway that is too narrow for a wheelchair--can prevent a journey. He had the wisdom, and business sense, to understand that this means that somebody (500 million somebodies worldwide by his calculation) is not receiving the product they need.

Pilzen (Plzeň) in the Czech Republic

When my Polish ancestors came to the United States from the old country they landed in Pilsen - a district of Chicago. As Director of University Ministry at Benedictine University I worked with some remarkable students to build a service learning relationship with that district, birthplace of Benedictine University's St. Procopius Monastery and now a Mexican neighborhood.

Watching the charming video called "Once" tonight with a Czech character I began to wonder how accessible the original Pilzen (Plzeň) is now in the Czech Republic. This encouraging piece on public transit came up in an Internet search:

As would be expected in the Czech Republic, Tatra cars dominate the tram fleet, which is painted in a pleasant yellow-based scheme. The ubiquitous T3 car forms the backbone of the service, operated in both one- and two-car formations. Very unusually - and maybe uniquely - some T3 cars have been 'diced and spliced' to produce an articulated set with a low-floor section. The method would appear to be to remove the rear portion from one car and the front portion from another, then sandwich the two remaining sections around a newly-constructed low-floor piece. This highly ingenious practice not only provides disabled access but would also appear to benefit capacity, too - an important consideration as Plzen's trams appear to be well-used.
- source: http://world.nycsubway.org/eu/cz/plzen.html

As trilhas do Parque Estadual do Jaraguá, na zona oeste de São Paulo, acabaram por passar por reformas. Nesta quinta-feira, uma delas começou a receber a visita de deficientes físicos. Um trajeto de 400 metros, batizado de Trilha do Silêncio, foi especialmente adaptado a cadeirantes, deficientes visuais, pessoas com pouca mobilidade e idosos. Exemplo que diversos outros parques deveriam seguir.



logo for El Cisne magazine

To read this site in Uruguay, El Cisne, you will need to know Spanish but, even for those who do not, it is encuoraging to see the site promoting inclusion in tourism with these articles in their Turismo section.

Venice by Wheelchair

Julia Malone & Pat Broderick are out traveling again. Read Julia's report on Venice at the Atlantic Journal-Constitution:

If there were ever a glorious tourist destination that seemed out of reach to someone in a wheelchair, it must be Venice — where going a couple of blocks often means crossing steep, stepped bridges.

Pat Broderick had always dreamed of going to Venice, Italy, but was daunted by accessibility. Surprisingly, it proved not to be that big of a challenge. Here she is at San Marco's square.

Just getting there can be a challenge that requires negotiating docks, stairs and, of course, boats.

Even for Pat Broderick, who has wheeled through Egypt, South America and Nepal, the watery island city of Venice had long remained an unfulfilled life goal.

But the intrepid traveler refused to give up on her dream. So the two of us took off on a quest to conquer Venice and its aura of inaccessibility.


Reviewing Our Legacy

As any idea or invention becomes disseminated through a society it changes. Similarly as ideas move from their cultural contexts and take root in another changes occur.

Here Shoji Nakanishi of Disabled People International (DPI) Japan re-clarifies the founding concepts and principles of the Independent Living Movement as it undergoes the two-fold process of mainstreaming in its host context and internationalization to new cultural contexts. The question arises, "Is the new faithful to the intentions of the original?"

See the Independent Living Movement in Developing Countries

The Disability Blog Carnival

Blog [with]tv will be hosting the next Disability Blog Carnival on January 10, 2008. The theme that will be presented is "Disability in the Media: Tell us of your experiences and/or your impressions."

Read more at the [with]tv blog post "Who Should Be Representing Us?"

As Inclusive Tourism and Inclusive Destination Development emerge further into mainstream thinking it is important the its implementation be truly "universal."

With the age inversion of populations in an increasing number of countries, the prevalence of older travelers, and the frequency of blindness as a consequence of aging the observations and guidance of those who have had long experience with blindness is a social asset of increasing value. Below is the document, Creating A Barrier Free Society, from the World Blind Union on the proposer implementation of the seven principles of Universal Design.

New Year's Resolutions -- 2008

As New Year's wishes come in from around the world it occurs to me that I hid my hopes for 2008 in the Vision Statement of a paper published last month in the journal of Design for All India. It is part of the article, "Prayaville, Thailand:Becoming a Destination of Choice for Travelers with Disabilities." (For those heading for their maps right now, don't bother, "Prayaville" is a fictional location.)

May more of us live in such a place!

Vision Statement

(This Vision Statement is written in the present tense to express the ideal goals of the project as if they were already reality.)

• Prayaville is a barrier-free city with an affirmative policy of inclusion of people with disabilities (PwD) that is evident in its infrastructure as well as its business and civic cultures.

• Prayaville is a city with a community of citizens, as well as long- and short-term guests with disabilities, who actively participate in civic life through government, business, education, media, and the arts.

• Prayaville is a destination of choice for people with disabilities because it has applied Inclusive Destination Development principles of Universal Design in developing its tourist assets.

• Prayaville has differentiated itself from other tourist destinations while positioning itself within the mainstream tourist route of Thailand and of Southeast Asia.