August 2008 Archives

Deaf411 is doing some very important research for those involved in inclusion and destination development Check it out:

DEAF411, Inc. is researching what makes a city "Deaf-Friendly".

We are collecting information about your city and would like to learn more about the city you live in, and develop information on what is needed before the city can be considered "Deaf-Friendly".

Take their survey here.

Visit them at


These are three articles resulting from our four-city Inclusive Tourism tour of India:

It's a Long Walk

Visability for Disability

Complete Access

Tips on Travel

E'Louise Ondash profiles the leading light in writing on travel and disability, Candy Harrington, with her article, New publication offers tips, ideas for accessible travel

Just because you use a wheelchair or a scooter or are a slow walker doesn’t mean you don’t want to travel. It does mean, though, that barriers can make it difficult and limit your choices of destinations. Veteran travel writer Candy Harrington of Ripon, Calif., (just north of Modesto on Highway 99) recognized that fact about a decade ago and decided to do something about it.

She founded Emerging Horizons: Accessible Travel News, a quarterly, full-color magazine that focuses on destinations and experiences made easy for those with mobility issues.

“I’m able-bodied, but I thought the topic was more challenging than the fluff I had been writing,” Harrington said in a phone interview. “I wanted something with a little more meat. It was a change-of-life-direction thing. I spent a lot of hours working, so I needed something to carry me through.”

When she began tackling the subject of accessible travel, “I didn’t have foresight that this would be a big topic in 10 or 15 years, but with aging baby boomers, it is.”

National surveys show U.S. high school students with disabilities, while increasing in the numbers enrolled in foreign language courses, still lag behind their non-disabled peers in the percentages who study foreign languages. U.S. students with and without disabilities are close to equal in the percentages completing foreign language courses at the higher education level. However, the data does not explain what languages are being studied, how successful the learning experience is, and what are the barriers and benefits for people with disabilities at all ages. Are you a person with a disability from the United States who is interested in taking a survey about foreign language learning and disability? The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange ( seeks your and other individuals with disabilities input and experiences.

Take a 10-minute Foreign Language survey online at:

Deadline to submit the survey: October 31, 2008.

Handicap et tourisme is looking for input to improve information available to travelers with disabilities.

Mr. Francis Siva is President of ILTC (Independent Living & Training Center of Malaysia) comments on
ongoing problems with inclusion of Malaysians with disabilities sparked by a recent Star Metro article on unfulfilled promises related to public transit - and thus inclusive tourism.

See Disabled in a Dilemma Over Inconvenient Travel Environment

O Botafogo é o primeiro time de futebol brasileiro a aderir a campanha de acessibilidade promovida pela Secretaria Especial dos Direitos Humanos da Presidência da República (SEDH/PR) e o Conselho Nacional dos Direitos da Pessoa com Deficiência (Conade). O compromisso será assinado amanhã (27), em cerimônia, às 18h30, no Othon Hotel, Rio de Janeiro. Os ex-jogadores Roberto Dinamite e Jairzinho (Copa de 70) também vão declarar adesão à campanha.

No próximo sábado (30), no estádio Engenhão, o time do Botafogo fará a sua primeira ação em prol da campanha: entrará em campo para enfrentar o Náutico na companhia de 22 crianças com deficiência. Cada jogador estará acompanhado de duas crianças. O time exibirá em campo a faixa "Acessibilidade: Siga essa idéia!".

A Post at BBC

You may want to read through this post at BBC and commentary:

So flying OUT of New York:

I skip the queues by inviting myself through all the 'elite access' lines for rich first class travellers, and no one seems to mind. We get to the bit where they screen your hand luggage.

Usually, I wave at someone to indicate a stick, they put the stick through the coneyer belt first and give it back to me.

On this occasion there is too much distance between me and the human being. It's noisy and crowded and I can't get her attention. So - possibly foolishly - I put the stick on the conveyor anyway and proceed: I can walk for a short while with no stick.

I get stopped by a VERY aggressive security type person who orders me to take my shoes off. I explain that I am willing to take my shoes off - always important to say that first! - but I cannot do that unless I am sitting down, and is it possible for me to sit down, please? She looks confused, I guess because I don't have my stick and am not at that precise moment looking obviously disabled. So I explain again.

So she shoves me into a side cubicle - glass fronted and locked so I can't get out(!) via the front, with her blocking the open side at the back and tells me to wait there. Now what I REALLY can't do with no stick is stand up for anything more than a few minutes, so tell her...

Full story:

The news is a few days old now but in anticipation of the Paralympics here's a tribute to Hilary Lister who has had to postpone her journey to circumnavigate Britain:

Hilary Lister, who is paralysed from the neck down, and her support team have been beset by problems since setting sail from Dover on 16 June.

Bad weather, technical trouble and injuries to crew members meant they had only managed to reach Cornwall on a trip scheduled to take four months.

Mrs Lister, 36, said: "The fates have conspired against us but I am now ever more determined to go again next year."

IssueLab on the Paralympics

IssueLab is a free online archive of social research by nonprofits

Stacy at IssueLabs reports:
Changing Lives through Sport -- A Report Card on the Impact of Special Olympics

This report is a nice, though brief, testament to the virtues and benefits of the Special Olympics. Though it sometimes reads like a mission statement, this ends up being less troubling than you would think since the mission is admirable and, as evidence shows, effective. More than 75% of Special Olympics athletes participate for longer than 5 years, and athletes, family, and coaches report impressive social, health, skills, and personal improvement. The Special Olympics clearly affect many people in many ways, but lest we forget they are at heart a sports competition the report offers the fact that, "During the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland, 38 individual athletes' performances would have bettered performances by athletes in the 2004 International Summer Olympics in Athens." It's not hard for me to imagine how the Special Olympics are doing great things for people with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) and "to impact the perspectives of society at large toward this population." Now, after reading the report, I don't have to imagine.


Multi-sensory travel is responsible and uniquely satisfying. I often advise clients to run through their travel products and destination development campaigns emphasizing various sensory modalities to see what enhancements or unique new products they can discover.

In general, this under-exploited product development technique results in simple concepts like sensory gardens. Together with the growing sophistication of green design and heritage tourism there is much potential waiting to be captured. Here is reference to serendipity occurring in one of those simpler projects:

When is the last time you had a sensory experience? So many of us go through life taking things for granted that we miss the wonders that surround us. We touch, smell, hear and see, but are we truly aware?

The idea that children respond to their environment inspired the creation of a special garden at New Bedford's Buttonwood Park. It is not limited to children's use, but it's proximity to a new handicapped-accessible playground certainly encourages youngsters and those who have limited mobility to use it.

I like this statement describing the UN's World Tourism Organization:

UNWTO plays a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.

Will we that fragment of institutional "Inclusive Tourism DNA" get transferred to Green Globe in this mating? We would all like to see more progress in the vision:

Universal Design is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Most simply, Universal Design is human-centered design of everything with everyone in mind.

Universal Design is also called Inclusive Design, Design-for-All and Lifespan Design. It is not a design style but an orientation to any design process that starts with a responsibility to the experience of the user. It has a parallel in the green design movement that also offers a framework for design problem solving based on the core value of environmental responsibility. Universal Design and green design are comfortably two sides of the same coin but at different evolutionary stages. Green design focuses on environmental sustainability, Universal Design on social sustainability.


Positive development continue from the ASTA India sponsored workshop series on Inclusive Tourism.

While Tourism Secretary Banerjee brings government to bear, and the Adventure Tour Operators' Association of India teams up with international experts on Inclusive Tourism at the Adventure Travel Summit and Fair in Brazil, numerous Disabled People's Organizations, tour operators, travel agencies, and Ashoka Fellows fill in with entrepreneurial vigor to open everything from convention centers, to luxury, family, and extreme travel to the disability community. Progress will not be miraculous or overnight but, if this wave of interest institutionalizes, it can be substantial.

Find more photos like this on Tour Watch

Review From Buenos Aires

Nelida Barbeito is an Argentine expert in travel and inclusion. She is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and English having done university-level work in Canada and speaking or writing frequently in Brazil. Recently she presented a workshop on inclusive tourism in Buenos Aires and has done this review of the Tango bar El Barracas.

The potential of this topic and conference from a Disability Studies perspective fascinates me:

Texts and Tours: Developing the Potential of Literary Tourism on 5th December 2008 at Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds

Organised by the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change and

LitHouses: The Literary Homes and Museums Group

Saroma Holidays

Satish Nair is justifiably proud of the new houseboat design of his company Saroma Holidays sailing the backwaters of Kerala, India. Watch for this market to open up on a global scale with help from many regulars at the Rolling Rains Report.

Find more photos like this on Tour Watch

We repeatedly emphasize the need for reliable travel information on the part of travelers with disabilities. This is one reasons that breakthrough projects like AccessAbility's get such an enthusiastic welcome here. The following press release demonstrates how even the airlines themselves are seemingly unaware of how dependent all their customers are on quality information -- British Airways was surprised by response to its simple

Press release - 18 August 2008 - British Airways

British Airways’ application for the new Apple App Store has seen massive uptake that exceeds expectations. It’s being accessed by up to 3,000 people a day worldwide. In the first month, UK users alone exceeded 15,000.

These statistics underline the importance of accessible travel information on the move and the readiness of consumers to utilise the functionality of new technologies.

The application allows users to access real-time departure and arrival information for updates if catching a flight or picking someone up. It also contains full BA timetable information and enables access through to

Chris Carmichael of BA’s innovations team said: “Customer reviews on the Apple App Store site have been great and they have given us lots of ideas for the future.

“We knew there was an appetite for this application and the take-up figures have been very impressive. The statistics underline which technology tools really make a difference to customers in making travel that much easier.”

Inclusão: Congresso discute acessibilidade no turismo
19/08/2008 00h04

Do JC OnLine:

A adaptação da estrutura do setor turístico às necessidades das
pessoas com deficiências será o foco dos debates do I Congresso de
Turismo Muito Especial de Pernambuco, que ocorre entre os dias 10 e
12 de setembro, no Recife Palace. Para quem se interessa em discutir
demanda, mercado, planejamento e oportunidades de acessibilidade no
turismo, as inscrições já estão abertas.

O evento, que é uma realização do Instituto Muito Especial, com o
apoio do Ministério do Turismo, pretende reunir cerca de 500 pessoas
no ciclo de palestras com representantes do Recife Convention Bureau,
Associação Brasileira da Indústria Hoteleira (ABIH), Associação
Brasileira dos Agentes de Viagens(ABAV), Empresa Brasileira de Infra-
estrutura Aeroportuária (Infraero) e da Empresa Brasiliense de
Turismo (Brasiliatur).

Candy Harrington's work is featured at the Daily Herald today in Ideas for planning an accessible vacation by Jane Oppermann.

Ricardo Shimosakai is organizing the following in Brazil.


NEC logo.gif

With a few minor injuries added to my body during transport in India ( laceration to my toe and a pressure sore ), damage to the wheelchair, and a few good frights all around I am a strong endorser of the movement to educate the industry on basic safety and evacuation protocols for customers with disabilities.

Here Bruce Bromley takes the lead in Australia with National Evacuation Chairs

Do blog de Fábio Adiron Inclusão : ampla, geral e irrestrita

A área da Deficiência anda em festa, pois há muito que comemorar, nos últimos tempos.

A audiodescrição (AD) é um dos fatos mais recentes: a Portaria N.o 466 (30/07/2008) concede o prazo de noventa dias para que as exploradoras de serviço de radiodifusão de sons e imagens e de serviço de retransmissão de televisão (RTV) acrescentem, na programação por elas exibidas, o recurso da audiodescrição, juntamente com a legenda oculta (closed caption) e a janela em Libras (língua brasileira de sinais).

Akhil Srivastava and


One of the enjoyable parts of returning home after an extended trip like the past three weeks in India s really getting to know all the extraordinary people I was able to interact with only briefly. Here is a link to the work of one such person, Akhil Srivastava and the group Antardrishti.

Deaf Tourism: Progress in Vietnam

Smile Tours is run by Hoang Thi Minh Thi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She is expanding her tour products to include itineraries for deaf and hard of hearing travelers. She has tour guides with ASL and ISL abilities. The field of deaf tourism keeps growing!

Meet Prasad Phanasgaonkar

Listen to Prasad Phanasgaonkar at the Mumbai Workkshop on Inclusive Tourism on August 30, 2008.

Driving Like India in the USA

Touchdown in the USA. A swift passage through Customs. On my own - and loving it.

With all my commentary about the driving style in India you would expect that reaching US soil I would be the model of good road behavior.

No so!

I made myself laugh as I realized that as soon as I was free to push my own wheelchair, without the attendant crowds of "helpers" who have swarmed me over the past three weeks, I sped through the crowd at JFK darting, dodging, and feinting like a New Delhi taxi driver. I must have looked like the teenagers from the 'hoods here in California who use the freeway traffic around them (all traveling at 70 + MPH) as "stationary" pylons while they play race car driver.

A couple generations ago my peers came back from India transformed by encounters with gurus and rhapsodizing on higher states of consciousness. I only seem to have turned into a second-rate livery jockey!

Aventura Especial (Video in Portuguese)

Today I meet with the president of he Indian adventure tourism association who has just returned to Delhi. One of the topics on the agenda is what is being done in other countries. Dada Morerira's Aventura Especial will be one example I will discuss. India will ned to emulate Brazil as it took national action to incorporate modules on working with people with disabilities in adventure tourism professional certification curriculum.

Wheeling in Nature

A roll in the park.

The "Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability" (APCD) Project is a technical cooperation project between the Government of Japan and the Government of Thailand, which is started in Bangkok on 1 August 2002.
The Overall goal of the project is to promote the empowerment of people with disabilities and a barrier-free society in developing countries in the Asia and Pacific Region.

• APCD will facilitate a regional network and collaboration among disability-related government and non government organizations (NGOs) by establishing focal points and associate organizations for strong collaboration and relationships in each country in the Region.

Thank You to Javed Abidi

Last evening I spent almost three enjoyable hours with Javed Abidi learning firsthand the history of Inclusive Tourism in India.

Javed is an Ashoka Fellow. You can find his profile here:

Free2Wheel Delhi - A New Look!

Free2Wheel Logo.jpg

Today I am the guest of Shivani Gupta of AccessAbility in New Delhi. Last night she, Vikas Sharma, and I stayed up to the wee hours scheduling my next few days and discussing projects. Today we do some site reviews for a court-ordered study, meet with the Tourism Ministry, and then disability rights activist Mr. Javed Abidi.

AccessAbility is lean, nimble, and producing valuable work.In just a week they have done a nice redesign of their city directory. Take a look:

Flight Across India

Captain John Abraham Regional Manager of WHL - Kerala reminded me as we debriefed last night that the circuit that I just completed in 4 nights is generally a 12 to 15 day itinerary. No wonder I feel like I ran a marathon. I did!

Today I fly from Cochin to New Delhi via Chennai. In Delhi I hope to have a chance to process all these compressed experiences (and pass along the photos & measurements from the several sites assessments I did per day)

Back on Dry Land - Cochin, South India


The backwaters of Kerala are endlessly fascinating.

This region where the agricultural land is below sea level as in the Netherlands and where gondola-like canoes are the transportation method of choice. Then there are their big cousins!

I just spent the night on the water in a kettuvalum. "Kettu" means "tied" in Malayalam. The hulls are made of boards fitted, tied, and sealed into a seaworthy vessel. Typically domed with a palm-frond living compartment these lumbering boats look like cartoon caterpillars crawling slowly up and down the main channels of the canals.

But after 6 PM you won't find them on the main waterways. The next 12 hours are given over to the fishermen who work he deeper waters while kettuvalums hug the shore. You are just as likely to find yourself anchored in front of a rice paddy or a small village once night time comes. I learned this morning that the traditional question the children as visitors on he boats is "May I have one pen please?"

Kerala has 98% literacy rate. If I had known before I came that ballpoint pens were the coin of the pre-teen realm here I would have stuffed my bags with them. Who can resist a cute kid shyly begging for a pen (and then running off to show her friends her new prize!)

Rima here had her choice between a white and a blue one. She chose the blue one.


NFS Communications and Publishing, Inc. is one of several agencies contributing to positive developments in marketing to people with disabilities in the US.

More power to you Erik. You're right - not me on those stairs!

I’m taking bets that my abs look more like those washboard midsections of tv gym equipment hucksters than they did when we started climbing to the hill stations of Kerala four hours ago.

There is a rhythm to driving in India. The driving rhythm has a danceable beat. At least that’s my working hypothesis since I have isolated no other pattern of rule-based behavior in what I have observed by sitting in the front passenger seat.

Moon Over Munnar


Padmanabhan, Executive Chef at Club Mahindra in Munnar, Kerala India got a workout last night. Not only did he make up some delicious Kerala dished ("medium spicy, please!"). He accompanied each serving personally as it was delivered to me. I was one of those meals that is a shame to have eaten alone: Kerala Fsh Curry with kingfish served on a specialty bread consisting of ground rice dough left to ferment over night. (His recipe uses yeast as leaven rather that the more typical toddy of fermented coconut juice for the sake of gusts who prefer no alcohol.)

It is not exactly fair to say I ate alone. Two fire dancers sent rapid-fire flares from their mouths into the sky on the terrace just beyond the restaurant. The excited response of children was visible, if not quite audible, over the pounding beat of hip hop, traditional Kerala, or techno beats depending upon their act. Unfortunately, I had come without my camera and it remained back in my room, the only fully adapted one in the Club Mahindra Lakeview Resort, and the room was up a flight of temporarily-ramped stairs connecting the second floor to the restaurant on a mezzanine level.

Mythic Travels

At this stage of my India tour my consistent travel companion literally comes along in my suitcase!

Ganesha, god education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth, is on his way to a good friend who asked me to transport him. I think he's doing his famous bit of "overcoming obstacles" as we travel (maybe so he can get home in one piece?)

Arwen Bird rents Kallak'ala Retreat - a private home in Netarts Bay, Oregon adapted to accommodate her needs as a wheelchair user. Head to the Pacific Ocean while you are there!

Find more photos like this on Tour Watch

Thank you ASTA-India!

Park Hotels Lobby.jpg

The four-city workshop tour on disability for the travel industry was a success. Endless detail and partnerships went into the design and logistics of this four-city whirlwind tour to raise awareness. All indications are that the message was enthusiastically received.

One example is that, as i write from my excellent room provided by our host the Park Hotel in Chennai (Madras) I will soon visit the Taj Coromandel down the road to do an access audit. The remainder of the day will be as guests of the Tour Guides association. Lodging for my last night here in Chennai tonight has been arranged by a generous workshop attendee, Geetha Menon of Parveen Holidays.

Interview on Family Travel

Below is a reprint of an interview recently done by The Family Center on Technology and Disability.

FEJIDIF ( Federación Provincial de Asociaciones de Discapacitados Físicos de Jaén ) ha inaugurado el Campo Nacional de Trabajo “Vía Verde del Aceite III” con la participación de un total de 10 jóvenes europeos. Hasta el próximo 28 de julio estos jóvenes de entre 18 y 25 años provenientes de Austria, Suecia, Bulgaria, Alemania, Murcia, Albacete, Vizcaya, Guipúzcoa, Murcia, Córdoba y Jaén compartirán trabajo, ocio y cultura en distintos rincones de la provincia de Jaén.

Sailability in India

Sailability India.jpg

Today's goal: Help spread Sailability while I'm here in India.

Sailing Venue:
84 Rd3 Banjara Hiills Hyderabad

Contact details:
Name: Dipak Pradipak
Position: President Elect
Phone: 914023355522
Fax: 914023355533
Mobile: 9490163957
84, Road No. 3, Banjara Hills
Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh 500034


From the European Commission comes 46 second captioned promotional video on new air travel regulations:

Are you interested in travelling by air? Would you like to receive assistance adapted to your needs? European legislation gives you rights on the ground and in the air, throughout the European Union. For more information, visit the European Commission's site

Did you know that "60% of ALL HOUSES built today in the United States will have at least one resident with a “long-lasting, severe mobility impairment” at some point in the lifetime of the house?"

None of us did until publication of the article cited below.

CGH Earth Hotels have been one of the generous sponsors of our workshop your through India. On checking into their hotel in Cochin we discovered that there was no grab bar next to the toilet. By the time I returned from dinner an hour or so later on had been installed. Then I noticed that my grip has deteriorated so much that I can no longer use spherical door openers. Returning from a meeting I discovered they had solved that issue as well.

Sometimes the eagerness to please that I encounter in India has the unitended effect of leaving me feel mobbed. Other times it leaves me with the frightened observation that those manhandling my wheelchair (with me in it) have no training whatsoever in working with wheelchairs or protecting themselves from injury when lifting.

The common element is that these "helpers" do not listen.

The staff at CGH Earth's Casino hotel listen. That makes all the difference in the world.

An International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs (IISE) in Trivandrum, created by the Founders of the Braille Without Borders Sabriye Tenberken, who herself is blind and Paul Kronenberg, is all set to train about 40 young visually impaired persons from different parts of the world with skills to set up their own social or environmental projects in their countries.

Send applications or

A Home Designed for Life

One measure of the penetration of Universal Design thinking into the mainstream is the rhetoric of articles on the topic.

This piece by Melissa Birdsong enhances the appeal of UD with good writing.

India and Disability

As we travel across India doing workshops on Inclusive Tourism for the travel and hospitality we are privieged to eet up with Indian pioneers like Anjlee Agarwal, Javed Abidi, and Shivani Gupta all quoted is the current issue of India Today magazine:

"India's attitude has been: No Census, no statistics, no problem," says Javed Abidi, a wheelchair-user and a major voice for people with disability.

A study stint in the US showed him how much more fulfilling life can be for people like him. He came back and started raising uncomfortable questions: "How many of us are there? Why are we kept out of the Census?"

After a long battle, the Government finally yielded and Census 2001 put the figure at 2.13 per cent of India's population. But Abidi, who heads the National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People, finds the figures debatable.

A World Bank report, People with Disabilities in India, claimed last year that for every 100 there are about eight disabled people in India. "If you don't see them that's because the system doesn't allow them to be visible," he says.

... Shivani Gupta became a wheelchair-user after a car accident at the age of 22, on the eve of leaving for higher studies in the UK. Over the years, struggling with the everyday challenges of taking her life forward, she has grasped the harsh reality:
The nation might be on a construction boom but easy access to buildings continues to be overlooked. "Builders install ramps, but in absence of guidelines, those are often all wrong," she says.

"We don't have any official guidelines on proper gradient, flooring, lighting, design, symbols and signage that make a place accessible." It was this exasperation that led her to set up AccessAbility, a firm that specialises in barrier-free design and employment solutions for the disabled.

Craig Grimes on Travel in India

Between jumping curbs and chasing luggage Craig Grimes has begun a travelogue on our tour through India to train the travel industry. Posts begin here: